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When a baby I’m with begins to talk, to fuss, or to cry I go through a three step process. First, I take a long, slow, deep breath and relax my whole body. This directly counteracts the tendency to hold my breath and tighten up. Second, I set aside my own inner infant for a moment, recognizing that to truly hear this baby, I must clear myself of any projections or old memories that could interfere with my hearing this baby. Third, I connect with the baby, looking into her eyes if possible. If the baby avoids eye contact, I place my hands gently but firmly on her body and connect through my hands. I let my energy go to the baby, and tell her with my voice, my eyes, and my hands that I want to hear what she has to say.

 

Eye contact is an important part of doing a massage, and making a deep connection with your child. This mom and baby enjoy their special time together in an infant massage class in Spain.
Eye contact is an important part of doing a massage, and making a deep connection with your child. This mom and baby enjoy their special time together in an infant massage class in Spain.

 

Then I stay with the baby, keeping myself in a very relaxed and receptive state. I listen and respond verbally, and observe the baby’s body language. I watch her mouth and what she says with her eyes. I have noticed repeatedly that when the baby is intently listened to in this way, her crying takes on a different quality. The baby’s mouth will begin to move as if she is talking, moving expressively. The baby’s eye contact may become very focused, as if she intensely wants to communicate. When I am sure the baby feels heard and has said most of what she has to say, either I or her caregiver offer her the comfort of rocking, walking, or patting if the baby needs it to help her get sensorially organized again. Invariably, a baby who feels heard will sleep more deeply afterward and will further extend herself in trust the next time I see her.

by Vimala McClure

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