Handling techniques are designed to teach how to handle a baby correctly. This is a job to be done by parents with their own hands, touching and handling their baby from the very first days of its life. Picking up, holding, soothing and carrying an infant in hands correctly can help the infant to become aware of its body and adjust it, ensuring a symmetrical and thorough development in the long term.
Initially a baby has no awareness of its body, therefore care is essential, where the hands of its parents provide information and ensure deep intimacy in communication. A baby reads the hands of its carer and handler.
Low/high tone is a combination of words known to any mum. To prevent it, it is important to know how to pick up, carry, handle and dress up a baby correctly.
Baby handling is a great method to reduce high tone or muscle tension and help the left and right side of the baby body to develop evenly. It is therefore worthwhile for the mum and dad of an infant to learn baby pick-up techniques in order to promote the development of the child rather than slow it down.
By keeping, picking up and lowering down, dressing and carrying a baby correctly we help the baby to get to know its own body and to participate in movements.
Proper handling techniques provide an opportunity to encourage the development of movements in a baby in a natural way. The basic principle is aligning the baby’s body towards the middle line. Any movements must be made slowly, getting the baby involved in the activity. If handled correctly, the baby will sense its movements, get to know its body and will participate actively in time.
There are a few simple main principles to be followed:
- Symmetry: a situation where one side of the baby’s body is more active than the other side must be prevented;
- A frequent and prolonged eye contact with the baby;
- Movements must be slow and even;
- The baby must get actively involved in movements.
These simple main principles are the basic building blocks for the uninhibited and balanced physical and mental development of your child!
Correct handling leads the baby towards starting to make correct movements on its own, thus helping to normalise its muscle tone.
When picked up and carried around in hands, a baby gets to know the world around it and, what is important, does this at the height of an adult body. By carrying the baby around and changing its body positions you constantly provide your baby with body impulses which leave a sensory (via senses) and motor (via motion) impact on its posture, stance and motion. Change of body posture will have a beneficial effect on the development of the baby’s sense of balance in the future.
Picking up and laying down – a baby should be picked up and laid down in a lateral position (lying on its side). This helps the baby adjust its body towards the middle line. In order to facilitate the formation of symmetry, a baby should be picked up lying on one side and laid down on the other side. When rolling a baby over, both sides of the body should be activated. A situation where one side of the baby’s body is more active than the other side must be prevented. Therefore, when changing the nappy, care must be taken to ensure that both sides of the baby’s body are equally activated.
Positioning in bed – the mattress should be neither too soft nor too hard, a nappy should be placed under the baby’s head only. The baby may be laid down in the bed on one or the other side as well as on the stomach. To stabilize the side position, a blanked may be rolled up and placed behind the baby’s back.
Dressing up – rolling movements should be used when dressing up a baby, thus contributing to the formation of awareness of its body. During handling, the baby should be allowed to experience every movement, therefore the movements should be slow and definite. A baby should not be pulled by its feet and palms as this raises the muscle tone. Small babies dislike clothes being pulled over their head very much. According to proper handling practices, a shirt should be pulled over the baby’s head from behind so as not to touch the baby’s face. Clothes should not restrict the baby’s movements! When dressing up a baby, two shirts should be offered to the baby to allow it to choose the one that the baby wishes to wear. The baby will make a choice, one just has to wait for the baby’s response. The more time you spend with the baby while dressing it up, the less attention the baby will demand on a daily basis.
Carrying around – a baby may be carried around in several ways. The baby’s position should be symmetrical, provide a sense of safety and stability and ensure free movement of arms.
Physical exercise – an infant needs physical exercise to learn to feel its body, balance its muscle tone, prevent the formation of body asymmetry and master diverse movements. It has been proven that children who do physical exercise during their first year of life feel safer, have a better space awareness and feel the joy of movement.
Learning basic handling skills is a must for anyone who is taking care of a baby on a daily basis.
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