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How a parent’s touch transforms children’s lives

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When a baby is gently touched, special nerve cells in the skin (called C-Afferents) become active. These cells signal  the baby’s brain to calm their breathing, heart rate and emotion. This also helps the baby make sense of other people’s voice and face: in turn, shaping their sense of security. The baby’s brain also responds to touch by increasing the flow of the ‘love hormone’, oxytocin.

Researchers (and more researchers) increasingly believe this cascade of hormones and calming responses provide the key to unlocking the brain’s capacity to develop social skills, empathy, attention and future resilience against stress and trauma.

Early interactions involving touch have a life-long impact on us all:  improving behaviour and mental health at primary school age.  Early affectionate responses can help reduce rates of mental illness by up to 50%, and increase mental well-being and resilience, healthy relationships and life-satisfaction in adulthood. And it is these connections that are the single greatest predictors for a long-life and healthy old-age (more about that here, and here).

There is, however, a small catch.

Touch – just on its own is not  enough to support these outcomes. Touch is most effective, when it is adapted and used in response to the emotional needs and feelings of each individual baby.

For some parents and babies, this early affectionate relationship comes easily , and is built without conscious effort. But researchers estimate that anywhere between 13% and 20% of all babies miss out on the interactions important in infancy, to such an extent it impacts on their early development.

However, affectionate, responsive, high-touch interactions can be  easily supported. Simply increasing responsive affection for babies most at risk,  may dramatically improve outcomes…even when other barriers cannot be removed.  For example, the impact of increased affection on babies is so powerful, research (and more research) has shown it can eliminate the toxic effects of poverty on early brain development, within a single generation. It can buffer babies against the developmental challenges of parental postnatal depression. And it can even change the activity of our genes.

Despite overwhelming evidence, governments still provide no systematic  funding to support touch education for new parents – particularly for those who would benefit the most. Baby in Mind is the only Australian charity working to change this.

We provide and fund the only accredited training available to health and early childhood workers in high-quality touch education and promotion skills. High quality touch education is simple, fun and effective… and is accessible to all families.


you’ll become part of a movement ensuring the future becomes a stronger, kinder and safer place for all our children.

Baby in Mind is a registered children’s charity based in Australia.

We offer free and subsidised training to anyone wanting to see all babies enjoy the life-long benefits that come from early relationships that are loving, healthy and secure.

Infant Massage supporting Aboriginal Parents and Children – National SNAICC Conference 2017

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During the past three days, over 1,200 people gathered in Canberra for the national SNAICC2017 Conference.

SNAICC, the peak-body in Australia representing the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, included not one, but two presentations in the proceedings about the Baby in Mind First Touch Program, and how it is being adapted by workers supporting Aboriginal families in Australia. Read More

Code of Conduct for Delivery of Cue-Based Infant Massage Education

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Who We Are

As professional educators with current certification, we support the establishment of strong and secure early relationships between parents and babies.

We provide education, training research and support. Our work makes a unique and vital contribution to Australian society by supporting many of the essential foundations for lifelong mental and physical health.

Our Code of Conduct

This Code of Conduct for the delivery of Cue-Based Infant Massage Education is a powerful, positive statement about the place of professional infant massage educators in Australian communities and organisations.

Our Code shows how our current professional members are committed to working with babies, parents, families, colleagues and other professionals, in accordance with our shared beliefs.

In order to maintain the level of trust placed in us by the Australian community, and to help enable the best possible outcomes for the families we work with, our Code of Conduct sets out the expectations of behaviour and practice for our Professional Members. The Code can be used by Professional Members to help guide their everyday decisions and actions. It also gives our organisation – Baby in Mind – a set of principles to use in regulating, maintaining and improving our collective standards of practice.

This Code was developed in consultation with our members, other people who have an interest in supporting healthy parent-baby relationships, and members of the community. As a result, this Code reflects the standards that we expect of ourselves, and the standards that the community expects of us.

Our Beliefs

We Believe In:


We believe parents and babies – of all lifestyles, parenting styles, or choices – deserve to be welcomed with respect, tenderness, warmth and, above all else, a listening heart.

… the dignity of parenthood

We believe all parents love their babies and want their babies to have the chance to grow up happy, healthy and in peace. We believe all babies deserve for their parents to be supported in this fundamental, human hope.

…honouring our first relationships

We believe all babies are born with an innate desire to feel close to, connected with, and a special part of their own families. We also understand the extent to which they experience this has a long-term impact on the social, emotional and physical development of each human being. We believe that by honouring these early experiences, one day, all children and parents might enjoy the life-long benefits that come from having early relationships that are loving, healthy and secure.

…making a difference when it matters most

For children to grow up healthy and happy, parents need good quality support – as early as possible – from people who they like and who respect them. Children also need to have healthy relationships with people of many ages and abilities. They also need to live in communities where people’s human rights are upheld. We believe in focussing our efforts, resources and will-power on getting these things happening today, rather than waiting until problems become overwhelming for families.

…the ability of all people

We believe building relationships and connections between human beings should not depend on knowledge owned by experts, professionals, governments or organisations. We believe the knowledge, skills and actions needed to support healthy human relationships should belong to each person, family, neighbourhood and community.

Principle of Conduct

PRINCIPLE 1: We put the well-being of babies and families first.

In our role delivering parent-infant relationship education, we:

1.1 ensure, as much as we reasonably can, that the comfort, security and safety needs – and the personal preferences – of each individual baby and their family are acknowledged and responded to in our work.

1.2 include, welcome and treat each baby, and their family, with respect, courtesy, dignity and sensitivity to their relationship, cultural, social, economic, geographic, health, lifestyle or other status; and their parenting preferences and styles.

1.3 do our best, when invited or requested, to assist families to find out about other health, education or social supports that may be available to them.

1.4 will try and help a family find a different educator  if we cannot meet their needs.

1.5 follow the most program guidelines in doing our work. We let families know if we are not working within the current guidelines, and we only ever make adaptations to our program guidelines if we are properly qualified and trained to do so and it does not compromise family well-being.

PRINCIPLE 2: We support parents and babies to build safe, secure and responsive relationships with each other.

In our role delivering parent-infant relationship education, we:

2.1 are at all times mindful of our position as a role-model to families and act accordingly when in our work role

2.2 only provide cue-based infant massage education and information to parents, and do not ever massage other people’s babies ourselves.

2.3 only deliver infant massage education in a face-to-face setting, and do not attempt to provide our program via telephone, video, internet or text.

2.4 only provide advice, information and education related to the delivery of cue-based infant massage and parent-infant interaction. We avoid providing other sorts of advice, counselling, treatment or other services within the education setting.

PRINCIPLE 3: We do everything we can to ensure the highest possible quality of service

In our role delivering parent-infant relationship education, we:

3.1 before providing a service to a family, collect all information that is necessary to provide a high quality and safe service, and as necessary to comply with all record-keeping laws and guidelines.

3.2 act responsibly in communicating information and knowledge to families.

3.3 comply with all relevant local, State, Territory and Federal laws that relate to our practice.

3.4 hold current and appropriate indemnity and liability insurance.

3.5 listen respectfully to complaints or concerns raised by families with us, and, where possible and appropriate, try to fix any problems.

3.6 give adequate information to families so they know how to make a complaint, if they are dissatisfied with our service.

PRINCIPLE 4: We provide a useful service for the benefit of the community

In our role delivering parent-infant relationship education, we may:

4.1 charge a reasonable fee or receive a wage for our services that:

  • is within the range of accepted industry standards;
  • does not lead to the exploitation of families;
  • ensures we can provide ourselves with safe and fair working conditions; and
  • provides us with fair remuneration taking into account our training, experience, and the quality of service we provide;

4.2 or willingly provide our service in a volunteer or social context.

PRINCIPLE 5: We provide our services with honesty, integrity and professionalism

In our role delivering parent-infant relationship education, we:

5.1 manage our relationships with families in ways that are professional and helpful for each family, and in ways that maintain and strengthen their sense of trust and dignity.

5.2 do not engage in activities that reflect improperly on the the work of other professional members, or of Baby in Mind.

5.3 only provide education that is within the scope of our training, qualifications and level of experience. We are honest and truthful about what we are qualified to do.

5.4 are honest about the claims we make in relation to the benefits of our work. We make sure any claims we make about the benefits of our program can be substantiated by evidence.

5.5 communicate professionally and respectfully with each other, and with other professionals.

5.6 acknowledge the source of our training and the program we teach.

PRINCIPLE 6: We uphold the privacy and confidentiality of the families we work with

In our role delivering parent-infant relationship education, we:

6.1 ensure we do not wrongfully disclose personal information about the families we work with.

6.2 take reasonable measures to securely store personal information about the babies and families we work with.

6.3 only disclose private information with the family’s written consent, or when required by law.

PRINCIPLE 7: We take responsibility for maintaining the quality of our own practice and the service we deliver

In our role delivering parent-infant relationship education, we:

7.1 only provide our service when we are physically and mentally fit to do so, and when we have the necessary abilities, judgement and capacity to do so.

7.2 maintain our current knowledge, and improve it, by undertaking continuing development and education.

7.3 maintain a regular practice of reflection in relation to our work supporting parents and babies.

7.4 actively seek out information to clarify or improve our knowledge and practices, when we have identified opportunities for learning.

7.5 take responsibility for a managing a healthy work-life balance.

7.6 strengthen our own capacity to support families by using strategies and personal practices that support our own mental health and physical well-being.

National Health and Medical Research Council Includes Cue-Based Infant Massage as a Potentially Effective Intervention in Infant Mental Health

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A report released by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has recognised and included cue-based Infant Massage as an intervention that may potentially help promote some factors contributing to early social and emotional development in a baby’s first year of life.

The finding has been welcomed by Australian children’s charity Baby in Mind. Baby in Mind is the only organisation in Australia providing nationally-accredited training to health professionals in infant massage education.

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The Body Keeps the Score

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The Body Keeps The Score (Bessel van der Kolk)

The Body Keeps the Score will surely be considered a classic among the texts on human trauma, and human nature more generally. Although van der Kolk is writing about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) broadly, he gives (justifiably) a significant emphasis to developmental (in-utero, infant and early childhood) trauma, as this is perhaps the primary source of trauma for many.

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Baby in Mind Educator Wins Award

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Linda on her last visit to Uganda, sharing skills with local workers and mothers.

Linda is currently looking for sponsors to provide training to local staff in Uganda, to help support early mother-baby relationships in families traumatised by rape and abuse. If you are in a position to assist, please contact Baby in Mind.

Congratulations to Baby in Mind educator, Linda Davis, who this week received an award for the highest academic achievement for a NSW student graduating from a vocational education course in a health faculty. Linda’s journey has been an extraordinary one, marked by courage and resilience, over an almost 10-year period, after travelling to Uganda on a trip that would change her life.

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Children’s books for supporting very early mental health and well-being.

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Caring for young children can be exciting, joyful, annoying, messy, frustrating, painful, boring, uplifting and exhilarating all at the same time.  Some of us take to parenting like a duck to water, some of us struggle through, making it up as we go along. But no matter the range of emotions, challenges or victories that we deal with each day, parenting young children is never easy.

On those hard days it can be a struggle to feel like a “good” parent. We worry that somehow we are harming our kids, that somehow something we do along the way is going to make things go wrong for them.

And, as it turns out, there is no big secret to giving our little ones the early foundations for a sense of confidence, belonging and self-worth:

Read More

Four Books That Help Explain Babies

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The saying that ‘all babies are different’ has become a bit of a cliché, though there is a truth to it and it does explain – at least in part – why there is no technique that works for every baby, all the time.

But if there is no technique that works for every baby, all the time, then presumably the opposite is true too: some techniques – for settling, feeding, soothing crying – must work for some babies, some of the time.

So how can parents find which technique works for their individual baby? Read More

Noni Hazlehurst, AM, on the work of Baby in Mind

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Noni Hazlehurst, AM, is known to almost every Australian, and is loved by just as many. Children’s charity, Baby in Mind, is honoured to have Noni support our work.

For 24 years (in a 43 year career that is still going), along with a host of critically acclaimed film and TV roles, Noni came in to our lounge rooms almost every day as presenter of the ground-breaking children’s program Playschool. She taught us how to solve problems and transform the ordinary by sticking scraps together with a bit of masking tape. She sang to us, read to us, engaged us in play and – most of all – made us feel that we were OK just the way we were. She let us know we were important, that what we did, what we made and what we said mattered.

Read More

The First Touch Program: Using infant massage to support family relationships and brain development

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By: Karen Craggs and Liz Hillyer, Junction Australia

Junction Australia is a community organisation working across all of South Australia, providing counselling, community support and housing services to families, children and young people. Our Point of Engagement program  is an early intervention home visiting service where we undertake intensive intervention with parents, or pregnant women, who are involved in drug or alcohol misuse, and their vulnerable new-born babies and children. Read More

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