Italian Certified HUG Teacher

Benedetta Costa da più di trent’anni  fa parte dell’International Association Infant Massage.Membro fondatore dell’Associazione Italiana Massaggio Infantile (www.aimionline.it), Benedetta è ora diventata la prima insegnante certificata HUG in Italia. Leggi delle sue esperienze con l’ HUG!
Nel 1983 sono stata formata come insegnante di massaggio del bambino da Vimala McClure, autrice del libro “massaggio al bambino Messagio d’amore . Una delle lezioni più importanti ricevute da Vimala è quella di riconoscere il valore del “chiedere il permesso al bambino prima di incominciare il massaggio. Vimala dice che “chiedere il permesso” è un modo meraviglioso per mostrare rispetto e amore al bambino, riconoscerlo come persona che ha la piena libertà di dire Sì o No. La sfida allora è quella di ssere in grado di capire come il bambino dice okay a ricevere il massaggio oppure  che non è disponibile o ha bisogno di un'interruzione. Capire i segnali del bambino e aiutare i genitori a leggere il  suo linguaggio del corpo, è fondamentale nell'insegnare e nell'imparare l'arte del massaggio.

L'anno scorso Han Tedder ha presentato HUG Your Baby  (Help, Understanding and Guidance for Young Families) at the Annual General Assembly in Bologna.  Tutti I partecipanti hanno imeditamente colto la connessione tra I concetti di HUG e il loro lavoro nell'insegnare ai genitori a riconoscere il momento migliore per il massaggio del bambino. Le persone presenti hanno capito quanto sia cruciale  aiutare (Helping), capire (Understanding) e guidare (Guiding) I genitori a riconoscere I segnali dei bambini, le Zone , gli SOS (Segnali di iper stimolazione)
Dopo  Bologna ho incominciato il programma per  Certified HUG Teacher  (insegnante HUG certificato) con l'obiettivo di imparare di più e promuovere la sua diffusione nel mio Paese.con I geniotir e gli Insegnanti di Massaggio Infantile. 

La mia prima esperienza è stata molto vicino a casa e al mio cuore: la nascita del mio primo nipotino! Mi sono incantata nell'osservare la sensibilità di mia figlia e la sua attenzione ai segnali SOS. Sicuramente ha fatto la differenza nel'interagire con lui o nel tenerlo semplicemente a contatto pelle-a-pelle.
Recentemente ho offerto il primo corso HUG Your Baby ad un gruppo di quattro donne in gravidanza, una nonna di un a bimba di 3 giorni e un fratellino di 3 anni. Ho fatto vedere il DVD HUG in italiano e presentato le Zone, gli SOS e il Pianto, argomento che ha destato mokto interesse nei partecipanti.  Quando abbiamo fatto pratica delle modalità per calmare I bambini usando delle le bambole , mi sono deliziata a vedere il fratellino che ha voluto provare anche lui! Tutti I partecipanti hanno espresso feedback positivi sul corso; hanno confermato che era una buona idea coinvolgere anche altri membri della famiglia e che “assolutamente” avrebbero consigliato il corso a parenti e amici
Nelle mia prima visita a casa come  insegnante HUG  ho aiutato una mamma e la nonna a calmare la bambina che piangeva e a distinguere il sonno attivo dal sonno profondo. Sarà interessante ascoltare di più sulle loro esperienze nei miei prossimi incontri.    

Nella miaseconda visita è stato bellissimo osservare un'altra bimba in un omneto di interazione faccia-a faccia con la sua mamma. La mamma era sorpresa della capacità della bambina di imitare la protrusione della lingua. Ho provato a far girare la testa nel rispondere alla mamma che la chiamava con ilk suo nome.Sebben la bimba fosse in uno stato di veglia quieta, non si è girata verso la mamma. Adesso so che questo è un comportamento normale e ho rassicurato la mamma che potrà vedere queste abilità svilupparsi e continuare a crescere nelle settimane successive.
Ho molte speranze di poter condividere HUG Your Baby con genitori e colleghi in Italia. Il DVD HUG è ora disponibile anche in italiano e stiamo lavorando alla traduzione del corso online HUG per Operatori professionali.

Nonostante al giorno d'oggi I genitori hanno un facile accesso a Internet, numerose pubblicazioni, pediatri, amici nonni, c'è sempre molto da imparere e di sostegno. Sebbene il bambino resta sempre il più GRANDE MAESTRO, I genitori hanno bisogno di oservare e capire il linguaggio del corpo del bambino. I corsi e le risorse di HUG Your Baby , possono fornire a loro e agli operatori della prima infanzia che li assistono, informazioni e capacità che possono fare la differenza!


Morocco’s First Certified HUG Teacher Shares The HUG!

Zahra Bouchibti is a baby massage and baby-wearing instructor in Casablanca, Morocco. Recognizing how much education and support young mothers need in her country, Zahra looked for ways to deepen her knowledge. “In Morocco," she writes, "there are NO activities for babies and mums, no trainings for mothers, no nothing!” Zahra discovered HUG Your Baby on the Internet and has just completed training as a Certified HUG Teacher

"I am happy to report that things are changing in Casablanca since I started offering my baby massage workshops. Mothers are sharing at the workshops and with each other on social media. Now, I receive messages on Facebook with questions about a baby's sleeping or eating. I am honored that people have come to consider me an “expert” on babies; however, I felt I needed more training to satisfy and answer the mothers I work with. This was what led me to HUG Your Baby, which I first found through a Google search.

The more I learned about it, the more I saw that HUG Your Baby is such a beautiful concept! It is a practical, easy-to-understand tool that helps parents understand and connect with their babies.

As I went through The (online) HUG training, I gained a better way to describe ideas I already knew but found difficult to explain. Now I realize that during my infant massage workshops, I would see babies send out an SOS, but I did not have the ability to explain these signs to the mothers. After the HUG Your Baby training, I have new language and understanding to share with mothers, and a better approach to answering their important questions.

During my first Hug class I helped a mum calm her crying baby. Then she was surprised to learn the difference between her baby's "Active/Light" and "Still/Deep" sleep patterns. Not only was this information very interesting for her; it helped her solve many of the problems she was experiencing!

In my infant massage workshops I always talk about respecting the baby and not beginning the massage if the baby is not ready. The HUG information helped me explain how to notice and avoid over-stimulating a baby. Now, I can share this knowledge more effectively with mothers in my classes.

Incorporating Hug Your Baby information into my baby massage workshops has helped the mothers understand their babies better. It has also helped me feel more confident as a teacher and an “expert” in Casablanca’s growing baby world.


I am very, very happy to have done this training and to be introducing HUG Your Baby to mothers in Morocco. I have learned a great deal, and I hope to serve my country better with these important, new ideas."

Durham Connects Acknowledged as an HomVEE Program

After rigorous evaluation of program results, Durham Connects is acknowledged as one of the few "Home Visiting Evidence of Effectiveness" (HomVEE ) programs in the USA. The Durham Connects staff was one of the first organizations in the USA to receive HUG Your Baby training and recently completed “The Roadmap to Breastfeeding Success: Teaching Child Development to Extend Breastfeeding Duration.”

Durham Connects has now endorsed “The Roadmap to Breastfeeding Success"!

 “Our team of home visiting nurses recently took the ‘The Roadmap to Breastfeeding Success’ course from Hug Your Baby. The course provided valuable information on how the infant's developmental changes affect breastfeeding. This gave us insight on how to best help moms recognize and manage their babies' resting, active, and fussy times. The course has enhanced our ability to teach all moms, whether they choose to breastfeed or not.” Paula Wright, RN, BSN, IBCLC; Director of Clinical Services




Parent's Faces "Lights Up" When They Get The HUG from New Certified HUG Teacher!


Rebeca Perez is a Certified Parent Educator in Chattanooga Tennessee, serving both English and Spanish speaking families.

I am so delighted to have integrated HUG Your Baby into my home visits. Recently, I offered my first HUG Your Baby class to our families during our monthly group connection. I showed the HUG DVD in English and Spanish. We reviewed all 3 newborn “Zones”, talked about identifying SOS’s (Signs of Over-Stimulation), and how to help their babies get to the “Ready Zone” in order to play. 

It was amazing to see the look on their faces and their interest in learning these techniques. I was especially happy to see the fathers become involved when we were practicing calming techniques with a doll. Parents expressed how happy they were to have attended to class. They expressed delight in learning how to understand their babies’ body language in order to better bond with their babies.

I also had the privilege to teach HUG Your Baby to a few families during a home visits. They had many questions about their babies’ behavior since that they were first time parents. These new parents were able to learn how important is to learn to recognize their infant's cues,  "Zones “and SOS’s.

In one of the visit tjhe baby started crying after being awake for a while. His father immediately thought that the baby was hungry. However, after learning about the SOS’s he was able to understand that the baby was over-stimulated instead. The baby's mother was happy to use the comforting/calming techniques of holding the baby’s hand to his chest, swaddling the baby, and talking to him softly. They had “ah ha” moment when they saw their baby calming down and falling to sleep. 

Another mom informed me during our second visit that distinguishing the baby’s “Active/Light” and “Still /Deep “sleep allowed her baby to stay calm and to sleep longer hours at night. 

I am so excited to help empower families in my community by teaching HUG Your Baby!

Certified HUG Teacher Helps Teen Mother Bond with Her Baby

Emily Walden is a labor, delivery, and postpartum RN in Olmsted Township, Ohio. Her patients are especially lucky because Emily is also a DONA-trained Birth Doula. She has just become a Certified HUG Teacher as yet another way to learn from and serve the young families in her community. Here is her story.

I was on the search of obtaining contact hours for ICEA certification and DONA recertification when I stumbled across HUG Your Baby, a program I had not heard about before. I immediately turned to my experience as a mother of a thirteen-week-old and recognized many of the behaviors Jan mentioned in the class. I was learning information to not only share at work, but to apply to my own baby as well. And, The HUG tips and techniques worked great! I noticed that after observing and understanidng her behavior, I felt even more bonded than before and breastfeeding improved. I felt more confident and had a more complete understanding of what she was "saying" with her behavior.

Working as a Labor and Delivery RN has always been very rewarding. But, after my HUG training I am better able to help a mother bond with her baby after I have helped bring that life into the world is priceless.

Recently I had a visit was with a young adolescent mother having her first baby. This young mother was very passive and quiet in her personality. It was challenging for me to care for this couplet because I felt I needed to watch for emotional cues indicating distress in both the baby and the mother. It was as if both were giving me S.O.Ss (Signs of )ver-Stimulation. I had to be vigilant in my observations.

This young mother, only one day postpartum, was hesitant and unclear when her baby needed to eat. She would wait until he was wailing to try and bring him to breast.  Of course, she would then get frustrated because he wouldn’t latch. I could see that this mother wanted to breastfeed and  that the baby really wanted to eat! I discussed the baby's "Ready" and "Rebooting Zones" and suggesting that waiting to feed in the "Rebooting Zone" did not seem to be working well. The young mother was immediately boosted in her confidence level after seeing these S.O.Ss. She then was able to feed her baby for 45 minutes.

We then discussed the many triumphs and challenges of life with a newborn during the first few weeks of life. She really was thankful for the insight I was able to give and  was able to then open up and share her feelings of inadequacy as a “teenage mother.” Her whole face changed as I watched her bond with her baby. It was a gift for me to be a part of supporting this young mother. I value the teachings I was able to give her and feel more knowledgeable in my profession as a labor and delivery nurse. Thanks Jan!

Italy's First Certified HUG Teacher!

Benedetta Costa has been involved with International Association of Infant Massage for thirty years. A founding member of the Italian Association of Infant Massage, Benedetta is now the first Certified HUG Teacher in Italy. Read about her experiences with The HUG!

In 1983 I trained as an infant massage instructor with Vimala McClure, author of "Infant Massage for Loving Parents". One of the most important lessons I received from Vimala is to recognize the value of "asking permission" from the baby before starting a massage. Vimala says that "asking permission" is a wonderful way to show respect and love for the baby and to see each baby as a person with the right and freedom to say Yes or No! The challenge, then, is to be able to see how the baby says that he is ok to receive a massage or that he is not available and needs a break. Understanding babies' cues--and helping parents read their baby's body language--are fundamental to teaching and learning the art of infant massage. 

Benedetta and Jan at 
2014 training in Bologna  
Last year Jan Tedder presented HUG Your Baby (Help, Understanding and Guidance for Young Families) at the Annual General Assembly in Bologna. All participants immediately "got" the connection between The HUG concepts and their work teaching parents to see the best time to massage their babies. Participants understood that helping, understanding and guiding parents to recognize infant cues, "Zones," and "SOSs - Signs of Over-Stimulation" is crucial. 

In Bologna I began the Certified HUG Teacher program in order to learn more about HUG Your Baby and to promote its use in my country with parents and with Infant Massage Instructors. 

Benedetta with her grandson
My first training experience was very close to home, and to my heart: the birth of my grandson! I was delighted to watch my daughter's sensitivity to her son's SOSs. What a difference it made to know when to interact with her son and when to just hold him closely skin-to-skin. 

After my grandmother responsibilities slowed down a bit, I returned to studying the CHT program.

Recently, I offered my first HUG Your Baby class to four pregnant women, a grandmother of a three-day-old, and a four-year-old sibling. I showed the Italian HUG DVD and reviewed "Zones," "SOSs," and infant crying (which seemed especially important to participants). When we practiced calming techniques with dolls, I was especially delighted to see the young sibling join in the practice session! Class participants gave positive feedback about the class; they thought it was a good way to include extended family, and would "Absolutely" recommend it to family and friends.

Benedetta's first HUG Your Baby class
On my first home visit as a HUG teacher The HUG helped a mother and grandmother calm a crying baby and distinguish their baby's "Active/Light" and "Still/Deep" sleep patterns. It will be interesting to hear more "HUG stories" from this mother and grandmother when they attend my next HUG Your Baby class.

During my second HUG home visit I enjoyed seeing a baby and her mother show beautiful face-to-face interaction. This mother was surprised to see that her baby could imitate her sticking her tongue out. I attempted to have the baby turn when mother called the baby's name. Though this young baby got quiet and still, he was not yet able to turn to her mother's voice. I now know that this is normal infant behavior and could reassure this mother that she will see her baby's abilities continue to grow and develop over the next week or so. 


I have great hopes for sharing HUG Your Baby with parents and colleagues across Italy. The HUG DVD is now available in Italian and we are working toward translating the HUG online course for professionals.

Though today’s parents have access to the Internet, numerous books, pediatricians, friends and grandmothers, they still have much to learn and need our support. Since their baby can always be their GREATEST teacher, parents need and want to observe and understand their baby's body language. HUG Your Baby training and resources, I believe, can give new parents and the professionals who serve them, information and skills to make all the difference!
Doesn't Benedetta's grandson make you want to give The HUG!

Certified HUG Teacher Brings The HUG Home and to Hawaii!

Suzanna Baker is a Certified Labor Doula, Certified Breastfeeding Specialist also in a Certified Breastfeeding Counselor course, and on her path to becoming an IBCLC! She is also a Baby Signs Infant Sign Language Instructor and has an Early Childhood 0-18 mth focus. She is the mother of 5 children and a military wife currently stationed in Oahu, Hawaii.

I am ecstatic to be able to share the concepts of HUG Your Baby with the families I work with. I first learned of HUG Your Baby via the Cappa website and upon further investigation it seemed it would fit well with my work.

HUG Your Baby Zones and SOSs are such a wonderful and easy to understand tool for early parenting. This information is already clicking with so many of my new parents! You can just see the "ah ha" moments parents have when you explain the SOSs and Zones as it relates to their individual baby. The relief new parents get when you give them this information and relate it specifically to their baby is just priceless! There is nothing better than instilling more confidence in a Mother/new baby bond. It's so vital. Even as a Mom of 5 who deals with this age group every day, I learned many new concepts and tricks to deal with my own infant. 

It's always a struggle in our culture to promote lactation when many moms are not aware of normal newborn cues and behaviors. Breastfeeding education is so important and I feel HUG classes will do wonders for the Mother/infant bond as well as Father/infant and extended family. I plan to teach HUG Your Baby concepts at local classes, at pregnancy crisis center and homeless shelters. These locations are always in need of lactation classes, parenting classes, childbirth education classes.  I think families who follow HUG Your Baby will see a longer breastfeeding duration and that is a wonderful thing for the baby and the family!

New Certified HUG Teacher Discovers that The HUG Enhances Nighttime Teaching of Sleepy Mums

Denise Harris is a midwife from Melbourne Australia. She has incorporated HUG Your Baby into her postpartum work with new mums. She shares this essay to give us a taste of her experiences using HUG resources and techniques.

I am a registered midwife, in Melbourne Australia. I work in a hospital where my main contact with new parents is birth and the first two nights, as I work permanent night duty. Therefore, I have contact predominantly with Mums and not the whole family. I find this often puts these Mums in a very vulnerable position as they only have me to rely on for education, information and extended care of their newborn, after family members have left for the day.  These Mums are tired and feel the overwhelming reality of caring for a newborn. 

I was first attracted to the Hug Your Bay conference because of its name. I was finding that many women did not want to hold their babies because they were scared of spoiling them! I needed to find more information to try and convince them this is okay. Though it was interesting to learn more about normal newborn behaviour, the greatest thing I learned was about MY behaviour. I learned that no one wants to hear what parenting is like for everyone, but only  what it is like them and their baby. After learning the baby's name, my nest step was DO actions instead of all talk. 

I would ask the Mum if they thought they knew what was going on with their baby, and most Mums at this stage would answer that"my baby is hungry and I'm worried I don't have enough milk". I would agree that the baby's behaviour can be confusing and then go on to explain the process of initiating lactation and the baby's role in this. I would also take time to use the techniques I learned to calm the baby.  I try to keep this all very brief, and condensed as it is usually the middle of the night and these Mums are all getting very tired, some even exhibiting S.O.S.! I try to speak in a calm reassuring manner and I find a much more positive response from these Mums.

The other most common problem I encounter is that the baby will fall asleep at the breast the moment he latches on. then waking up the minute they are taken away from the breast. I usually have six women and newborns in my care, and cannot spend a great deal of time with one mum. However if a mum is struggling, I do my best to spend more time with the mum and bub to show further settling techniques such as patting the baby in bed and rocking the baby. This seems to give these mums more "tools" in managing their babies and increase their confidence.

The very first time I made an effort to incorporate The HUG into my practice,I discovered three of the mothers I had been caring for had gone home a night earlier than planned discharge. I hope that my new approach contributed to their confidence about going home earlier than planned. 

In the near future, I hope to my further my education and become a Maternal and Child Health Nurse. In this field I will see mothers and babies for the first few years of the lives instead of the first few days. I hope to also run first time mother groups where I can incorporate and teach Hug Your Baby. This will hopefully help many more new parents become the good Mums and Dads they want to be!