Tools for Facilitators: Including the Baby

My name is Kate White, and I’m here to talk to you about Including the Baby. It’s one of our competencies in the facilitator toolkit. It’s definitely a great skill to have. And I want to say that I have sometimes made the biggest impact with my audiences when I’m talking with a baby in class.

So, sometimes I’ll be just presenting material, and then there’ll be a baby in the classroom, so I will welcome them and I will talk with them. And, I’ll say something like, “I will be telling some stories, and if it’s too much for you, just . . . I’ll be watching; I’ll slow down, call pauses.” 

Often, the baby will talk back with me. So, I’ve had people tell me that of all the things that have happened in the night that I present, that’s been the most impactful thing.

I will also welcome babies in utero. I will just say, “If there is anyone pregnant here, I welcome your own little one, there—the inside baby.”

So, including the baby can also look like talking with the baby. And this is a big intervention. I do this all the time in my treatment room. This is a really important skill. So, I have a doll here. I have a doll. This is a doll; it’s not a baby. But, I wanted just to demonstrate a little bit about what including the baby might look like. So, say for example, a telephone rings across the room, and you’re holding the baby. [Gazing at the baby] say, “Oh, that’s the telephone ringing. I wonder who is here, who is calling us? So, let’s go over and get the phone.” So, you walk with them together. “We’re doing this together,” you say to the baby. And then you answer the phone. “Hello. Hi. Well, I’m here holding the baby.” So, there is a way that you just include the baby in your everyday life.

For practitioners who work with babies, I really advise you to talk with the baby and often recognizing . . . saying even to the baby, “Tell me more.” But, there is a way that just including the baby, talking with the baby, telling the baby what you’re doing. Sometimes when I say to the baby, “Well, I’ve got to go over and get something from this other side of the room.” I’ll wait for the baby to look away. But, I want the baby to get it that I know that they’re conscious and listening and they’re paying attention. Sometimes their processing isn’t as quick about certain things, but I’ll often wait for a baby to look away before I do something. Because if I just disappear from in front of them, and they wonder where you’ve gone, some babies are so sensitive, they startle.

But the idea of telegraphing to the baby what you’re going to do, then you go do it and you do it together, and you include the baby; those are the things I want you to know about this skill.

Thanks for listening.