It’s mid-morning in the heart of central Maitland and Xavier Earle is on the receiving end of a gurgling-inducing massage.
At this particular session Xavier, five months, is one of four Hunter bubs being treated to one of the world’s best infant massage techniques.
Endorsed by the World Health Organisation, the First Touch Program remains the only infant massage course in Australia recognised by health experts as the highest quality of its kind.
“Research shows that our earliest experiences with touch can affect every aspect of our lives,” Maitland doula and infant massage instructor Gwen Teasdale said.
“Infant massage uses gentle, tactile stimulation and loving verbal communication to deepen the relationship between parents and their baby. It is a shared experience, done with the baby not to the baby.”
Xavier’s mother, Miranda, also sees the program as an opportunity to bond with her new son.
“I see this as a good chance to spend a bit of time with my third child,” Xavier’s mother, Ms Earle, of Lake Macquarie, said. “And this is a really nice space to do that.”
New mum Jo Skafte has also joined the program to learn relaxation techniques and how to better deal with colic when it comes to daughter Lucca, nine weeks.
“I’ve never done this before but I thought it would be nice to learn some relaxation for my baby,” Ms Skafte, of Metford, said.
Baby massage has been shown to reduce crying, help improve settling and soothing and to gently support the baby’s development and wellbeing.
“It is also of particular interest to me that baby massage has been shown in research to help protect and promote baby’s mental health if mothers are recovering from postnatal depression,” Ms Teasdale said.
“And with one in seven mums being diagnosed with post natal depression there is potentially enormous benefits for these babies and a new support network for mums within the group.”
The course is being run through May and will be repeated in July. For more information and bookings phone Gwen Teasdale on 0414952713 or email email@example.com.