At this year's Lamaze/ICEA conference in Milwaukee, I had the pleasure of meeting filmmaker David Stark. He was exhibiting his DVD on infant massage: "BabyBabyOhBaby: Bonding With Your Brilliant & Beautiful Baby Through Infant Massage".
back story on how his DVD came into being:
How did a man with no children end up producing an infant massage DVD? I'm as surprised as you are. The answer is that I had an amazing mother. It was inspired by and produced in memory of my mother, Beatrice."BabyBabyOhBaby" guides parents through the techniques and pleasures of infant massage. A female narrator keeps the tone light and humorous, reminding parents to relax and to enjoy the quiet, connecting time with their baby. The DVD demonstrates the massage techniques on a doll, then shows how they work in "real life" with six different parent-infant duos. We see how parents massage "real" babies--the ones who wiggle, squirm, crawl, and try to eat their toes!
As a filmmaker, I've worked on Miss Universe Pageants, shot in the canopy of the Giant Sequoias and done interviews at the White House. But this DVD was a personal project and has been the most satisfying. I think it is also the most important.
I grew up in a family where love was conveyed by touch. Mom put my brother, sister and me to sleep by stroking our backs ... what we called "being tickled." From her touch we learned love and so much more. The thread that binds our family started with that touch.
At the beginning of 2004, Mom had a stroke. During the months before her death, we had a masseuse come to the house a couple of times a week. We all "tickled" Mom as well. It was a way to tell her how much we loved her. It was such a visceral reminder of the power of touch.
During those months, I happen to rekindle a friendship with someone I hadn't seen since my freshman year in college, some thirty years ago. Turns out that Mindy, among other things, taught infant massage. We talked about touch and Mom. I started doing some research and sat in on a infant massage class for fathers and their babies. There was one father in particular who just did 'still touch' ... putting his fingers on the chest of his daughter only weeks old. The sparks flew between those two. A bit of magic was happening. I was hooked.
After Mom's death, I decided to produce "BabyBabyOhBaby" as a way of passing on some of that magic.
Of course, the DVD teaches the mechanics ... the strokes of infant massage, but most importantly it is about the bonding between parent and child. I'm proudest of that connection which we captured as we filmed six real families learning to massage their babies. I love the emotion and trust on the screen.
I've found working with the families so satisfying. I want to extend the title by producing companion DVDs to go with infant massage. I think Mom is looking down from above and laughing at me. I'm the one who never wanted children and here I am surrounded by babies. Life can be interesting.
The DVD was filmed entirely with a brilliant white background. The parents wear simple gray athletic clothing. This visual simplicity places the focus on the baby-parent interactions. David Stark explained to me that he wanted the overall message of his DVD to be less about technique and more about relationship. "Infant massage isn't something you do to your baby; it's something you do with your baby." He sees infant massage as an improvisational dance between parent and child, as a way to connect and relate with each other. I love watching the babies and parents interact in this DVD. You see a dad with tattoos and piercings tenderly stroking his baby--probably one of my favorite images.
To see what I have described, watch this 3-minute preview of "BabyBabyOhBaby."
The 45-minute DVD has an introduction and 9 instructional chapters, each focusing on different parts of the body: still touch, connecting strokes, legs & feet, stomach, chest, arms & hands, face, back, and stretches. There is also a 25-minute "Just Music & Babies" track, set to music with no narration, showing parents doing all of the massage strokes. Once you have learned the basic techniques of infant massage, you can simply play the music & babies track as you massage your baby.
here to order. Wholesale purchases are available upon request for hospitals, birth centers, specialty baby stores, infant massage instructors, doulas, and more.
And if this isn't exciting enough, David Stark has a breastfeeding DVD currently in production. Here is the sneak preview. It's a must-see!