roots to cling to
& wings to fly!

Massage, Language & Connection Programme

The research behind the programme

The research behind the programme
The amount of benefits I found about communicating, singing and in particular singing rhymes to your baby was amazing. As of course is the wealth of research about the power of touch and benefits for baby. Here are some of the main findings, if you want to learn more please do click on the links.

The importance of singing to babies and children
A recent BBC New article about baby’s brains and nursery rhymes says that “The research indicates that babies need to feel safe, secure and loved for brain connections to be properly formed to enable them to learn effectively.” The research it refers to is baby brain scanning project at Cambridge University, led by Dr Victoria Leong. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-38002105)

Dr Leong found that when mothers speak to their babies in a soothing, sing-song voice which she name “motherese” that babies learn better and it is a good way for mother and baby to be in tune with each other (literally) she says “Although it sounds odd to us, babies really love listening to motherese even more than adult speech. It holds their attention better and the speech sounds clearer to them. So we know the more motherese the baby hears, the better the language development,” She goes on to say “The baby brain is set to respond to motherese, which is why it is such an effective vehicle for teaching babies about new information,” she says.

Bookstart, which is the early years programme run by the Book Trust, the UKs largest reading charity, sites a wealth of research that links the literacy benefits of rhyming with very young children, even in helping them progress with reading when they start school. “Rhymes are a uniquely child-friendly means of introducing babies and toddlers to the wonder of narratives and the imaginative potential that the stories found in books can offer” It goes on to say “Perhaps less obvious, however, are the dramatic benefits to literacy that are gained through exposure to rhymes. Research in recent decades has provided a wealth of knowledge on how sensitivity to rhyme helps children progress with reading.” (http://www.bookstart.org.uk/professionals/about-bookstart-and-the-packs/research/reviews-and-resources/the-benefit-of-rhymes/)

Pam Schiller, Ph.D in her article about Literacy; also discussed the link between rhyming and reading readiness. “The valuable role singing songs and reciting chants and rhymes play in laying the foundation for reading readiness. We know, for example, that these activities can help build vocabulary and develop sound discrimination. Both skills are crucial to the development of literacy”. Rhymes and communication are essential for brain development. “Experience wires the brain and repetition strengthens the wiring. This understanding should be at the heart of all interactions with children” This is exactly what rhymes offer, that repetition and solid group for learning and later developing literacy.  (http://www.earlychildhoodnews.com/earlychildhood/article_home.aspx?ArticleID=478)

An article in Psychology Today found babies in the womb can detect music and from birth are able to distinguish rhythmic patterns “In 2009, researchers from Hungary and the Netherlands reported that, by measuring their brain waves when listening to rhythms, day-old infants are able to detect differences between them. This wasn’t a learned skill. It was innate.” Kimberly Sena Moore’s findings state the link between music and infant development. She says “A fetus begins to process auditory signals at about 25 weeks. This is one of the reasons why newborns prefer to hear the voice of their mother–it’s the most familiar voice to them!..Singing is a super-charged way of connecting to your baby. It has the element of human interaction that little ones crave and need for their cognitive, language, and emotional development.” (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/your-musical-self/201107/does-singing-your-baby-really-work)

An article that looks at the link between rhymes and language skills and later education success, saying “Babies are particularly responsive when the music comes directly from the parent. Singing along with a parent is for the development of reciprocal communication.”.  The research was carried out by a consultant neuro-developmental education, Sally Goddard Blythe and found that ‘Singing traditional lullabies and nursery rhymes to babies and infants before they learn to speak, is “an essential precursor to later educational success and emotional wellbeing”, argues Blythe in a book. “Song is a special type of speech. Lullabies, songs and rhymes of every culture carry the ‘signature’ melodies and inflections of a mother tongue, preparing a child’s ear, voice and brain for language.” https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2011/may/08/singing-children-development-language-skills?CMP=share_btn_fb

The importance of touch
There is also a huge amount of research about the benefits of touch. We know that neo natal units have used kangaroo care in helping premature babies and some even suggest massage as there are links between touch and weight gain. There is also lots of evidence of the benefits of skin to skin contact with the mother straight after labour “There is good evidence that normal, term newborns who are placed skin to skin with their mothers immediately after birth make the transition from fetal to newborn life with greater respiratory, temperature, and glucose stability and significantly less crying indicating decreased stress. Mothers who hold their newborns skin to skin after birth have increased maternal behaviours, show more confidence in caring for their babies and breastfeed for longer durations. Being skin to skin with mother protects the newborn from the well-documented negative effects of separation, supports optimal brain development and facilitates attachment, which promotes the infant’s self-regulation over time” Raylene Phillips MD, IBCLC, FAAP (http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/806325)

Touch and massage also releases oxytocin, the love hormone, and decreases serotonin and cortisol levels, stress hormones. In this article, Calming stress in babies it explains some lovely ways to relate to your baby and help reduce their stress. One is nurturing touch, “Affectionate physical contact triggers the release of several stress-busting chemicals in the brain, including oxytocin (the so-called “love hormone”) and endogenous opioids (natural painkillers). These have a calming effect, and help switch off the production of cortisol. As a result, there is less physiological wear-and-tear on the body, and the brain is more likely to develop a long-term pattern of resilience to stress. Another is talking to “Like physical affection, friendly talk and sympathetic body language can trigger our brains to release “feel good” chemicals, like oxytocin”. The article explains the importance of reading babies cues which the Massage, Language and Connection course also promotes. http://www.parentingscience.com/stress-in-babies.html#sthash.0HBFdfYb.dpuf

An article asking if mothers touch can reverse the effects of prenatal stress found that “babies who’d experienced high-stress pregnancies showed no evidence of problems if their mothers reported giving them lots of caresses. It appears that affectionate touching protected at-risk babies from symptoms of an over-reactive stress response. The article goes on to say “affectionate caresses help babies develop better emotional health.” http://blogs.babycenter.com/mom_stories/can-a-mothers-touch-reverse-the-effects-of-prenatal-stress/

All of this shows how vital touch is to babies’ wellbeing, development and attachment.

Combining all these benefits of rhymes, language, and communication and of course massage is what makes this programme so unique and exciting. I look forward to your joining the course and learning the skills for yourselves.