Baby Shiatsu: Gentle Touch to Help your Baby Thrive – Book Review

November 9th, 2018 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Blog

Baby Shiatsu: Gentle Touch to Help your Baby Thrive

Karin Kalbantner-Wernicke and Tina Haase,

Singing Dragon, ISBN:978-1-84819-104-4


Baby Shiatsu is a model founded by German child development specialist and Shiatsu practitioner, Karin Kalbantner-Wernicke. The approach combines Western understanding of child development – incorporating modern neuroscience, developmental psychology and physiology – with the ancient traditions of Japan and an Eastern understanding of meridian development. Baby Shiatsu: Gentle Touch to Help your Baby Thrive is a practical and accessible, yet informative, guide to the topic. It provides a concise history and description of Shiatsu for the many parents and carers who have never experienced its benefits, introduces Eastern concepts such as ‘Ki’, ‘Meridians’ and ‘Yin and Yang’ without overwhelming the reader, and offers a solid and convincing explanation of the potential benefits of incorporating Shiatsu into life with a very young child.

Broken down into a series of mini-workshops for a parent or carer to experience with their baby, the book is attractively laid out with much use of colour, diagrams and photographs. The techniques themselves are thankfully very simple and easy to follow, which makes the substance of the book really accessible. With ‘At a glance’ summaries of each workshop, the book can easily be used for reference during a Shiatsu session with a little one – it would have been a nice addition to include tear-out versions of these pages, so they might be used separately and easily as prompts once the main content of the book has been digested. What is helpful is that the time has been taken to show parents and carers how to best prepare themselves and their baby for a Shiatsu session, and the workshops are very much tailored towards the needs of very young children, e.g. through the recommended use of the parent’s voice to incorporate rhymes and songs, and by informing the reader how to be responsive to their child’s changing needs and signals.

The order and sequence of the mini-workshops are tied in neatly with the developmental stage of the child, which is a topic covered comprehensively and shows the experience and specialism of the author. The theory and techniques are differentiated from those associated with Shiatsu for adults, and the reasons for this, i.e. meridian development in babies and children, are well laid out. The basic functions of each meridian, as unchanged in adult Shiatsu, are also succinctly covered, so as to provide a useful foundation upon which Baby Shiatsu builds. Helpfully and insightfully, the authors refer frequently throughout the book to the health and emotional wellbeing of the parents and carers of a child as well as that of the baby itself, acknowledging the enormous challenges that a family can face in the transition to parenthood. Exercises are provided to promote regular self-care and relaxation. Further, the limitations to Baby Shiatsu are clearly acknowledged, and circumstances are outlined in which it would be inadvisable to offer treatment to a baby, e.g. if the child was affected by changes or illness.

As a Shiatsu Practitioner and parent of a young child, I would recommend this book to those who are looking for a way to connect gently with their baby whilst also incorporating a sense of self-connection, healthy ritual and grounding during what is typically a very challenging time. Although I was already a student of Shiatsu when I used this tool to give Shiatsu treatments to my own baby, I believe that the book is written and laid out in such a way as to be accessible to those people who have never come across Shiatsu before. I recommend reading the book through in its entirety first, possibly during pregnancy, to digest its contents, before taking away key points and guidance to use in practical scenarios with a child. In my view, the book would work particularly well if it could be used as a reference guide following an introductory workshop or class with a Baby Shiatsu practitioner.

J Burton, Shiatsu Practitioner and Parent


Baby Shiatsu Book

Baby Shiatsu Book