Rock & Roll Dads Starts the New Year.
Looking forward to our next session on Feb 6th 2016. At our January session, 3 new Dads joined us, and one Dad-to-be called in at the end to say hello, and hopes to come along in future months.
As well as the usual safe, clear space to roll around and explore, each month I want to share some aspect of infant movement development. My aim is simply to enable parents to notice and celebrate all that is going on in their baby. We tend to view their movement as, “Oh, they’re just rolling around, not really doing much yet“. But there is loads going on, and it can be really rewarding to track these changes. I want to share the information too, to help parents slow down, and wallow in all that is happening. These months won’t happen again, and there is much to notice and share. And in slowing down, we really are supporting babies in getting all the movement and sensory nutrients they need.
So in January I spoke a little about Primitive Reflexes – so the ‘automatic’, unconscious movements that babies do before birth and in the first months of life. These are all about Survival, and are located in the spinal cord and lower brain. They create the nerve pathways to enable us to make movement responses to various stimuli we receive.
- So when a baby’s cheek is stroked, they automatically turn towards or away from the stroke, depending on whether they’re hungry.
- They grip when pressure is placed in the palm of their hand.
- When they are placed on their tummy on the ground, or on their back, the muscles on the back and front surface of their body are activated, in preparation for them rolling. And the Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex supports their bonding with the earth, as they balance the front and back of the body for all later, more complex movements.
There was lots to talk about as we noticed how the babies moved and responded to what they explored:
- How babies are first learning about gravity, and how to manage the weight of their bodies against the earth as they shift their position. They establish their relationship to ground, finding stability. And from this they explore their mobility. Support before movement.
- Little patterns and preferences each baby has, as the explore what their bodies can do, opening out after their months of growth in the holding, developing confinement of pregnancy.
- How part of what Dad’s offer is to help a baby regulate and calm their nervous system. After a shock of sudden loss of balance, the baby cries out – a reflex reaction “I need help – Come and get me”. So in the loving arms of Dad, with soft voice, holding close, and gentle movement, Dad’s calm nervous system helps regulate and calm the babies nervous system, to know all is well again. In time, the child may stumble again, but her nervous system has learnt that all is OK, “I can manage this”, her own soothing nervous system has been activated and she can carry on.
It was great to notice and value each unique stage of development each baby was at. And mostly that’s all we need to do. Supporting where a baby is, with support their development onto the next stage.
We had some lovely quiet time, with lights off, some big sofa cushions (that the babies mostly ignored!) tuning into the non-verbal and following the babies lead.
We didn’t have Robin to lead us in singing, so we remembered what we could from last time. Dads stood and held their babies close, gently moving, singing our song together. All babies quiet and content, taking it all in.
I offered a couple of questions for us to reflect on and chat about.
What did I receive from my Dad/parents & What do I want to offer my child?
This led to some conversations about how some men got very different things from their Mum, compared to their Dad. And for some, a knowledge that they were offering a very different way of being a Dad than they received. Big changes in one generation.
The next Rock And Roll Dads is on Saturday February 6th.
Sessions are open to all male carers – so Grandads, Uncles, Foster Parents etc are welcome too.