[Please Note: I was offered a place in the class free of charge in return for a review. BUT ALL VIEWS ARE MY OWN!]
Join a class, any class…
I remember being a new mum with Oscar and thinking that I had to join some sort of class, any class. It was a right of passage to sign up to some sort of activity and go along and “make some Mum friends”. So I signed up to Baby Sensory and I’ll admit, I didn’t really enjoy it. I found it a bit boring. I had grand ideas that it would be centred around messy play and really interactive. But it wasn’t. We sat in a circle and sang some nursery rhymes (to which I was the only fool that didn’t know ANY of the words) and well, yeah, I could have gone on Pinterest and done it myself… and saved £70.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking Baby Sensory – I’ve no doubt at all that there are much better ones out there but it put me off this kind of class. I didn’t want to waste my money again. Instead I wanted to do a class that I could get some enjoyment out of too.
Claire Houston Baby Massage
I started looking at alternative activities to do with Scout after she was born and decided I would try Baby Massage as a few of my friends had recommended it after doing it with their little ones.
Then, when she was just two months old I was lucky enough to be invited along to start a course with Claire Houston Baby Massage at her lovely home in Roslin.
Five weeks down the line and I’m delighted to share a wee review of Claire’s classes, but I must say, I’m a bit sad that we’ve finished!
On the Wednesday morning of our first class, I dropped Oscar off at his childminder and off I went with Scout to Roslin. As a second child, I’m all too aware that she doesn’t always get the one on one time that her brother was afforded as a baby. She spends a lot more time being laid on a playmat while Oscar and I paint/duplo/argue (jokes, kinda), and where he got dedicated tummy time and the likes, Scout is all to often popped into her wrap so that we’re able to get things done.
Because of this I felt really passionate about getting some one on one time with her and doing an activity rather than spending our time just the two of us watching Netflix and eating chocolate while her brother went to his childminder.
Claire runs classes on various days in different venues and I opted for the one that was run from her beautiful home in Roslin. My class was quite an small one with only 3 other sets of mums and babies ranging from a few weeks older than Scout to 9 months old.
I quickly realised, the class would be a lot whole lot more than solely learning the International Association of Infant Massage course. Alongside learning the techniques of baby massage the class offered an array of other skills.
“I hope to empower parents and give them the confidence to massage their babies daily to experience the delights of nurturing touch and pre-language communication with their infant.” – Claire Houston
Relaxation + Wellbeing
There is a strong focus on wellbeing. Claire taught us various techniques for relaxing ourselves as well as our babies – after all, Happy Mum = Happy Baby. We all know that parenting is tough and it reminded me that sometimes we need to do something for ourselves as well!
Claire also incorporates a few readings, Yes Mum cards and general discussion topics into her class. It was such a lovely way of getting a good chat with some like minded people while eating some delicious home baking!
Laid Back Learning
Importantly the classes are very laid back.
I’ll admit that when I was a first time Mum I sometimes found heading out with a newborn a bit daunting, and maybe it’s part of the reason I avoided classes. I would worry that Oscar would scream the place down, or that I’d need to abandon an activity to feed him. Looking back, I realise how silly that sounds, he was just being a baby, but it was all so new and a bit scary – as I wrote last month, I do feel like I’m a Different Mother this time round, but regardless – this is not something anyone would have to worry about in Claire’s class.
From the outset, the classes are ‘Baby Led’ and we were encouraged to read our babies cues and follow their lead throughout the classes – to stop for a break when needed, to feed if required and sometimes just to leave babies to sleep (Scout often dozed off before the end of the class – typical) – there was never any pressure to try and make the babies conform – I mean, they’re babies, i.e. unpredictable AF!
Tailored To You
One of the things I absolutely loved about the class was how Claire seemed to seamlessly adapt her teaching to suit us as a group – I was not surprised to find out after completing the course that Claire is a trained and experienced teacher!
As 3 out of 4 of us had toddlers at home, as well as a baby, Claire made a point of giving us ideas of how to incorporate massage into our daily routines with both children, including ways of adapting massage into bedtime routines and story massage as well as using it to help the bonding between siblings.
All of this was backed up by Claire’s personal anecdotes of how she uses massage with all three of her own children. It was lovely to hear how it can become a big part of your day to day life and so much more than just an hour and a half class for a few weeks.
On a slightly more practical note – the classes are super flexible! For the last session of the course I was double booked and I was able to tag along with another class on a day that suited better. We all know kids can throw multiple spanners in the works when it comes to sickness and the likes – so it’s good to know you’ll always be able to pick up any class you’ve had to miss.
Now, of course, along with all these ‘extras’ you’re learning brilliant tried and tested Baby Massage techniques! I won’t go into too much detail (you need to join the class and find out for yourself), but over the five week course you learn a new body part each week, culminating in full body massage. The massage strokes covered have been developed from ancient traditions in massage, influenced by reflexology and yoga, and supported by modern scientific research.
Plus, the benefits are huge, and some of them surprised me –
- relieves pain from teething, ear ache, grow pains and muscular tension.
- relieves tension
- helps ease excess mucus
- can help babies who are hypersensitive or hyperactive
- can help soften skin and improve skin conditions like eczema
- boosts circulation
- improves immune system
- helps develop coordination and balance
- many advantages in terms of cognitive development such as language development
- stimulates connections between nerve cells
- promotes body and mind awareness
- promotes growth and weight gain
- promotes muscular development and increases flexibility
- reduction in stress hormone production
- reduces crying
- promotes secure attachment
- helps develop love, empathy, tolerance and respect
And that’s just some of the benefits for baby! I also learned that parents who practice baby massage will find their own stress levels reduce and they can feel relaxed. Apparently parents sleep quality can improve too!
Importantly, baby massage helps to develop a greater understanding of your baby and thus we learn to better read our baby’s unique cues. Parent’s can feel more confident and see their self esteem improve, Claire has even told me that this is something that she’s seen develop in front of her eyes as a five week course progresses!
Honestly, I’d recommend this class to every new mum. Since completing Claire’s Baby Massage course, I’ve continued to use the techniques I’ve learned at home on both Scout and with Oscar – so that says it all really! It’s so much more than a way to pass some time & get out the house with your baby. You’re learning a new skill but also a way of communication and bonding with your new baby, not to mention some serious quality time! I’m even considering joining one of the follow on classes available as I’d love to learn even more. Oh, and Claire also runs one-off classes for Dad’s to learn an overview of the course!
If you’re interested in joining Claire for a class, she has a new block starting soon with classes on –
Thursdays – 12.45-2.15 @ Turtle Dove Cafe in Edinburgh (starting 19th April)
Fridays – 10.30-12.00 @ Penicuik Library (starting 20th April)
Wednesdays – 10-11.30 @ Glencorse Centre (starting 2nd May)
Also, starting 2nd May are new follow-on classes for babies who’ve already attended baby massage classes (10.40-11.40 @ Glencorse Centre) and last but not least another Dad’s class will be scheduled in June around Father’s Day!
There’s loads more info on Claire’s website and I’d urge you to get in touch with her if you require any further info!