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Course overview

Touch and Human Development.

This is a self-paced, free online course which explores the role of touch in human development, and particularly infant mental health development. The course has a strong research-focus and is most suited to health, early childhood, bodywork and community professionals with an interest in infant development. The course takes most people 3-4 hours to complete. You can do the course in your own time, and at a pace that suits you.

The course is also one module from the nationally (government) accredited qualification in Cue-based infant massage and parent-infant relationship education

In this module, we will

  • explore how parent-infant touch relates to early human development;
  • examine some of the key research influencing our understanding of how touch plays a central role in the development of emotional and affect regulation; and
  • review touch-related research which adds to our understanding of infant social development.

In this course, we will also introduce some ideas and give thought to how people’s own experiences and cultural beliefs about touch can impact on the quality of these early opportunities and interactions to support infant development.

These ideas will be explored through a variety of mediums including peer-reviewed research papers, social media, video and film, as well as popular television media. We will also explore these ideas in a practical context, by introducing baby Cohen and his mother Elle, who will help bring theory to life and also provide the opportunity to develop some parent-baby observation skills.

This course is free, but you will need to log-in to the website to access the material. If you are not a member, you can create a free account here.

Course content

Session 1: Module welcome and introduction 

Session 2: Foundations of early development 

  • Typical uses of touch
  • The parent’s point of view
  • Hammett’s rats
  • Affect regulation

Session 3: Babies and social touch 

  • Differences in organisation
  • Parent-baby interaction
  • The baby’s social world
  • Touch in affect development

Session 4: The social context of touch promotion 

  • Touching is dangerous
  • The problem with bodies
  • Navigating touch

Learning outcomes

By completion of this module, you will be able to:

1 – notice and describe some of the features of normal, healthy social touch between parents and infants;

2 – describe some of the main themes in research about the role of touch in human development; and

3 – identify some of the cultural and social influences on parent-infant touch.


This module Touch and Human Development is free.

Who this course is suitable for

This course is designed for:

  • health, early childhood, allied health and bodywork therapists with no formal or accredited infant massage education qualifications.
  • health, early childhood, allied health and bodywork therapists who are curious about the research basis of (high-quality) infant massage, but who do not want to teach infant massage themselves.
  • anyone who has completed a non-accredited course in infant massage education (i.e. with Infant Massage Information Service, Infant Massage Australia or Liddle Kidz) and wishes to add some additional depth to their knowledge.
  • anyone enrolled in, or intending to enroll in the nationally accredited  course in Cue-Based Infant Massage and Parent-Infant Relationship Education.
  • Infant massage educators who completed nationally accredited training prior to Nov. 2016, and wish to update or extend their knowledge.

Time commitment

This course takes most people 3-4 hours to complete. 

A certificate for 4 Continuing Professional Development hours is issued on successful completion.

The course material is two hours in length. Most people take another 1-2 hours to review material, take notes and complete the quiz questions.

You can take this course ‘on demand’, which means you can enroll any time and complete at your own pace.

You may need to allow additional time if you:

  • are very new to the topics in this course;
  • are new to using online learning;
  • want to review the material in greater depth; or
  • want to undertake further reading/ extension activities.

Course assessment

Assessment for this course consists of three short quizzes to check your understanding of the core concepts. These quizzes are located at the ends of:

  • Session 2: 6 quiz questions
  • Session 3: 6 quiz questions
  • Session 4: 2 quiz questions

After completing each quiz, you will receive your results straight away. You can go back and review any material as you you need.

To receive the certificate, you must complete all quiz questions and achieve an 80% pass-mark. You can re-take the quizzes as many times as you like.

Once you have completed the quiz questions successfully you will be:

  • issued with a Certificate of Completion for your CPD portfolio, which you can download straight away; and
  • able to use this course toward enrolment in the nationally accredited course in Cue-Based Infant Massage and Parent-Infant Relationship Education.

Course Instructor

Baby in Mind is an Australian health promotion charity, supporting infant mental health development in communities and organisations. Our primary activity is providing nationally accredited training to health, community and education professionals, as well as community members, in cue-based infant massage education. Baby in Mind has been providing this training in Australia since 1994, and is the only organisation in Australia to offer nationally accredited training in this field.

The instructor for this course: Touch and Human Development is Alice Campbell, the CEO of Baby in Mind. Alice started her career as a Registered Nurse, and has over 25 years experience working with babies, young children and their families in hospitals, conflict zones, Australian Aboriginal communities, child protection services and early intervention. She holds a number of postgraduate qualifications, including in nursing, health education and promotion and psychological trauma/ disaster management and recovery. Alice has over 12 years experience as an educator, including in disciplines of Nursing, Social Work, Community Services, and Health Education. For the past 10 years she has also worked with Baby in Mind, and is the lead writer of the nationally accredited Competency Unit in cue-based infant massage and parent-infant relationship education. For her Masters topic, she explored the vocational training needs of health and community workers in shifting from a surveillance-based approach to a safeguarding-based approach to child protection. She has won several public service and private sector awards for her work in building community capacity to meet the relationship-needs of very young children and their families. She still regularly runs the First Touch Program with families, mainly working with women who experience mental illness, child protection risks or other complex challenges.

Links to other courses

This module Touch and Human Development  can be taken either:

  • as a stand-alone module for general interest or professional development purposes or
  • combined with two other online modules: Indicators and mechanisms of high-quality infant massage education, and Infant massage in Australia (available from 30 April 2017) to be used toward a Certificate of Completion in Principles of High Quality Infant Massage Education.

From 1 July 2017, successful completion of this module will also form part of the Nationally Accredited Course in Cue-Based Infant Massage and Parent-Infant Relationship Education. Students enrolled in this course, or intending to enrol, should complete this module before attendance at the face-to-face training component of their training.

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