When I started making out my baby registries, and had one on amazon.com where the options were limitless, I decided to cast a wider net than the "standard" baby gifts. I have been interested in infant massage since my time in the NICU but not able to work out the time or money to go to a certification class. When I saw a massage video from an occupational therapist (one with a newly reactivated blog I had been following even) I decided to add it to my registry and try to learn a little about massage before I had my baby. Unfortunately, no one bought the DVD for me. However, I purchased the massage video for myself at a discount when the Aimee's Babies blog ran a promotion. Aimee then contacted me about reviewing the massage and developmental milestones DVDs on this blog.
My husband and I watched the videos together and collected our opinions on them. This way, we would have both an OT and layperson opinion.
The Baby Massage video is available as a DVD or digital download, and has a supplementary app also available. The video first briefly reviews infant development in motor and sensory systems. Aimee approaches the need for infant massage through a sensory integration perspective. After the introduction, she demonstrates performing the full body massage on an infant with description of her actions. She uses the Baby's First Massage method, which is intended for a typically developing child.
My husband and I both felt that the developmental section moved very quickly. While I was familiar with the information, he was less so, and would have benefitted from a slower pace. There was also some confusion because not all of what was referenced applied to newborns (which is what I think of when I hear 'babies') but also to the 6 months and up group. The developmental section would have benefitted from more of a multisensory learning method- listing out the developmental exercises that were being spoken about or just referred to through the pictures. Some senses, like position-in-space, were only briefly referred to and that confused my husband as well.
After the developmental section, we got to see the massage. I was happy to see that Aimee discussed specific contraindications to massage and referred to the general benefits of massage. I would have liked to see a brief discussion of the research that has been done on infant massage. Again, my husband and I felt the pacing was a little too quick. We will definitely need to watch the video again before trying the massage. My husband commented that it would have been nice to have this at the pace like an exercise video so that you could perform the massage on your baby at the same time.
Since I knew the benefits of infant massage before watching the video, I think I was more receptive to the overall concept than my husband. While there were a few parts of the massage that gave me the willies due to my own tactile defensiveness, I felt like the overall massage showed good face validity in light of what I already knew. My husband, in a phrase I never thought I would hear, said that he did not feel confident doing the massage on his baby because he still felt the baby would be a "porcelain doll" and was afraid it might hurt him. I think a larger reference to the research might have helped assuage his safety concerns.
Next, we watched the First Year Milestones DVD. Aimee described the purpose of this video to empower parents to be more vigilant about their child's development. She stressed that parents should not overreact to the exact timeframe of the milestone, but that they should be able to discuss what the baby can and cannot do with their physician and the importance of early intervention if there is a delay. The video was broken up well with menus to skip to the appropriate age range.
This video is considerably longer than the massage video, so I could only get my husband to watch the newborn section. This section again has a sensory processing base, and was primarily devoted to reflexes (which makes sense given the age of the child). The newborn section was very distracting to me because much of the video footage was done during a photo shoot, so there were repeated camera flashes. The audio and visual for this section could have been better coordinated as well. Watching this video before the infant massage would have been helpful since it was more in-depth than the developmental review in front of the massage video.
In the 3-12 month sections, this video really begins to shine. The skills Aimee discusses are really well illustrated in the videos of the different children. The developmental exercises that are discussed are pretty easy to do and Aimee gives suggestions for how to incorporate them into the day. I really appreciated that she gave a specific time range for tummy time at various points, because I have seen in my EI work that parents really have no idea how much time to shoot for (if they are aware that tummy time is necessary to start with). These sections were really well paced and developed and would be very beneficial to anyone looking to learn more about development. Some of the terminology may be a little over the head of a layperson but did accompany a video demonstration of whatever was being discussed.
My husband described the video as "very educational" and found the video footage of same-age babies to be helpful in understanding the developmental concepts. He stated that the video was helpful and made him feel more informed as a first time parent. He also mentioned that this was presented like a class, and might be good as part of a new parent class at a hospital or pediatrician's office.
I thought that the developmental video would actually even be helpful in a college level pediatrics class to illustrate the concepts discussed. We had photos and a day or two where we observed our instructor interacting with an infant, but a video would have been a valuable addition. The video would also be helpful for practitioners switching into pediatrics. With a little tweaking and adding footage of abnormal development, this video could be re-edited to really focus on educating OT professionals, but it is a valuable resource as is.
SUMMARY The Aimee's Babies DVDs would be helpful for new parents in learning more about development and appropriate ways to interact with your child. I think that the developmental DVD should be a prerequisite to learning the massage, so giving both together would be a good idea. Prices are comparable or better to similar products, so that shouldn't be a problem. I'm excited to see the future of the Aimee's Babies line, as she has announced plans for toddler and preschooler videos.
GIVEAWAY!! To help share the love during OT month, I will be sending out the Developmental Milestones DVD to one lucky winner chosen at random. This would be great for a student, new parent, or anyone interested in better understanding the first year of development. All you have to do to be eligible is Like the Occupational Therapy Notes Facebook Page before next Friday, April 26, at 10pm Eastern time. The winner will need to send me their address by 10am Monday morning or a new winner will be drawn- I'm having a baby and can't afford to wait around!
I got the Baby Massage video at a discount during an Aimee's Babies promotion, and received the Developmental Milestones video for free. All opinions are my own, except where my husband's are noted, and I was not compensated or influenced.