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!