Ortal Goldshmid, January 10, 2020
Guiding Child'Space groups of babies and caregivers
Child’Space Groups are for every baby and parent. Guiding these groups have always been a joyful part of my work.
I can’t think of a better way than groups to create a social network for parents, building their confidence and attachment with their newborn and letting them experience how precious touch, movement, and play are for bonding and hopefully as a way of life.
My vision is that every parent and baby will have a Child’Space group to join in their neighborhood during maternity leave.
My colleague and I have created a guiding method providing structured group lessons for each developmental milestone, based on our group work experience. We have been teaching our guiding method In Israel and In the Netherlands, with the blessing of Dr. Chava Shelhav, and I am happy to say there are more and more Child’Space groups nowadays.
“The group was a wonderful reason to get out of home. I did fear at first from comparison and having to "put on a show", but I must say I felt safe and natural and made some great friends for my baby and me to spend time with”
One of the most important things to learn when guiding baby-parent groups is how to create a companionate atmosphere of acceptance for all participants, no matter what their parenthood style is. It is something everyone can learn.
"there were moments I feared I could break her with my touch or drop her when I am tired…the group lessons taught me how attentive my touch can be and meaningful for her development and how to organize my body so I can trust myself to hold her better”.
Group lessons aim to build parents’ confidence and skills by teaching simple ways to handle their baby in everyday life: such as picking up, holding, soothing, developing body awareness whilst caring for their baby.
“I joined the group because the nurse told me my baby should spend more time on his tummy, but he was crying and I felt guilty putting him through this”
I came to realize that many parents from different countries and continents backgrounds share these challenges. Since “Back to sleep” campaign parents are guided to put their baby to sleep in supine which ”can reduce prone practice for infants, with potential for motor delay and cranial deformation” (Palmer et al, 2019) at the same time they are told to put their baby on his/her tummy when awake. The question is, are the parents taught how to do it, with the appropriate guidance so they can support their babies?
“During the lessons I learned how to help my baby stay longer on his tummy and even enjoy it. The group helped me see my baby is not the only one who is challenged but with the right guidance, it became rewarding for both of us. He can now enjoy more floor play, look better to both sides and reach with both hands for a to
Recently a study has been done by colleagues of mine: Carolyn Palmer, Barbara Leverone, and Daniel Rindler. They are very passionate Feldenkrais and Child’Space practitioners whom I have known for many years. Their goal was to study if a Child’Space group lesson, teaching proprioceptive touch and transitions to prone, would help babies tolerate the prone position ("Tummy time"), expand the parent's repertoire of supportive behaviors and provide them with a greater sense of eﬃcacy.
"The Child'Space method teaches parents to use touch to connect with the baby, sense themselves as they sense their baby, and help the baby ﬁnd new movement possibilities, including positions, transitions between positions, self-produced locomotion, manipulation, and oral activity” (Palmer et al, 2019).)
Child’Space work deliberately gives multisensory input to the baby: ” touch is combined with gaze and vocalizing not only in face-to-face play but also as the parent narrates many of the movements (e.g., “I'm bending your leg”).
Infants are born with a number of perceptual–action coordinations that help bootstrap their attention and learning (e.g., hear–look, grasp– mouth, grasp–look),
and multimodal experience is what the infant's nervous system is expecting (Soursetal.,2017)”.
It makes it easier for the infant to notice patterns, anticipate what is next, and eventually initiate new acts (e.g., Williams & Corbetta, 2016). An event's intersensory redundancy facilitates the infant's understanding and development because it stimulates time-locked, overlapping neurological mappings that jointly specify what is happening, often better than would unimodal sensory input (Bahrick, Lickliter, & Flom, 2004; Thelen & Smith, 1996).
This study shows that the Child’Space lesson helped infants tolerate more time in prone, and resulted in parents employing more and varied techniques for bringing infants to side-lie and into tummy time.
These simple procedures could be readily included in parent education and pediatric sessions with infants in the ﬁrst months of life, facilitating further infant development and parent sense of eﬃcacy. (Palmer et al 2019).
Child'Space activity is not merely presented as a muscular pattern to practice but rather as a functional, whole-body movement that has purpose and meaning for the infant (e.g., rolling in a way that the infant can take over, and often combined with additional reason for rolling, such as seeing the parent's face to the side or to reach a toy) (Palmer et al, 2019).
This is a link to a short movie that was filmed in a group lesson in Israel- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MuY4QUdO3wI Parents are learning how to play with their baby rolling him.her in a mattress to support transitions, the ability to roll to both sides and stimulate the vestibular system. I believe that you can get the sense of how parents are guided to notice more of what their baby is doing, how to direct their baby's attention and activity toward healthy development and ﬁnd joy in their relationship with the baby.
If you would like to become a guide for parent and baby groups you are warmly invited to join our course!
Here is a picture from the Group guides course in Amsterdam