In the womb, Baby is moving to the rhythm of his mama’s heartbeat, is comforted and amused by the songs sung by partner or siblings, and is rocked to sleep by the movements of daily life. This dance doesn’t have to stop when the baby is born. There is something special about dancing with your baby that promotes attachment and joy, and provides a special way to connect that can last a lifetime.
Amber and Meeshi Anjali, a Denver, Colorado (USA)-area couple who met at a swing dance event, decided to make dance a part of their lives, even as their family grew with the birth of their son, Aemon Koa. With Amber’s background in yoga and pregnancy/postnatal support, and Meeshi’s passion for multicultural movement and family dance, the couple came together to create GroovaRoo, offering prenatal and babywearing dance classes to “cultivate connection from conception.”
“When our babies are in utero, they are experiencing their birth parent's rhythms, heart beat, hearing their voice, and feeling close and secure,” explains Amber Anjali, co-founder of GroovaRoo Dance. “After they are born, we can continue to create this safe environment by keeping them close, moving together, connecting heart to heart, making eye contact, and singing to them.”
Dancing with your baby in a carrier, once they have developed sufficient neck control, can open up a whole new world of fun, fitness, and connection for both parent and child.
“We encourage caregivers to utilize a two-shoulder ergonomic carrier, where the baby is facing in, heart-to-heart to their caregiver,” Meeshi and Amber agree. “Every caregiver and child has a different body shape, so we encourage parents to try on different carriers to see what works best for them.”
Babywearing dance is not only for moms: It can foster connection and joy for co-parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and anyone who has a close relationship with the baby.
“For fathers specifically, it is a unique opportunity to connect with their baby,” Meeshi and Amber explain. “Oftentimes, fathers feel separate from their baby, because they cannot meet their needs by breastfeeding. There is a term in China called ‘milk dads,’ which refers to a father providing emotional nourishment to their baby through physical proximity, and it has just as much of a positive impact and connection as breastfeeding.”
They go on to say: “When we first started our classes, a news organization in China wrote a story about GroovaRoo about a dads’ class that we taught and called the dads in the class ‘milk dads,’ because they were fostering such a close bond with their babies.”
It is never too late to start dancing with your baby, even if they aren’t quite a baby anymore.
“Our hope is to not only encourage connection through dancing, but also to normalize families dancing together,” Amber says. “In our culture, dance is primarily seen as a performance art rather than a communal family activity. For the whole history of humanity until very recently, in cultures all over the world, singing, dancing and playing music has been an integral part of daily village life. Over time as the world became more urbanized, many of us have lost these community practices and dancing has become something that you are more likely to watch than participate in. GroovaRoo, for us, is a way to bring dancing back to the family and share the joy of dance with our children.”
Amber and Meeshi’s commitment to infusing the joy of dance into the lives of families has in turn greatly impacted their own.
“When we started GroovaRoo, we also found out we were pregnant with our son, Aemon, who is now almost 6 years old,” Amber recalls. “We created GroovaRoo, because we wanted to share our love of dance with our child. We were able to bond with him from the beginning through dance and continue to dance together as a family. It is a source of joy, lightness and connection for us all, and we plan to continue to dance as a family throughout his childhood.”
Dancing with your baby can be as simple as holding them and rocking back and forth to your favorite music. Wearing them in a baby carrier or holding them heart-to-heart can deepen your connection as you gaze into each other’s eyes and groove your way to a strong, joyful bond.
Heather Artushin is an American clinical social worker, parent educator, writer, and mama to two sweet boys, ages 4 and 1. With a background as a child and family therapist, motherhood sparked in her a passion for empowering the world's children by inspiring their parents. She is the founder of Southern Parent, where she offers parenting classes, individual support, and helpful articles to equip parents to do their job with passion and insight. Join her in the trenches of nurturing parenting by connecting here. She is also a Certified Attached at the Heart Parent Educator with Nurturings.
Learn more about GroovaRoo here.