Baby Massage with Claire Houston [ad]

Claire Houston Baby & Child Massage

[Please Note: I was offered a place in the class free of charge in return for a review. BUT ALL VIEWS ARE MY OWN!]

Baby Massage - Edinburgh

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!

Baby Massage - Edinburgh

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.

IAIM Course

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!

Baby Massage - Edinburgh

Upcoming Classes

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!

Suzy Snooze – Review [ad]

Please note: the Suzy Snooze was gifted to me by the lovely folks at BleepBleeps!

Suzy Snooze by BleepBleeps

Gadgets… I love ’em.

A gadget to help your toddler sleep better and give you a lie-in? SIGN ME UP.

I hadn’t heard of the Snoozy Suzy before and I’m surprised, because she is right up our street.

The Snoozy Suzy by BleepBleeps has the functions of multiple baby products – a smart nightlight, sleep soother and monitor – all rolled into one contemporary, toddler friendly design.

Night Night

The nightlight function provides a warm orange glow that helps to promote sleep while providing the option to also play soothing music to get the child ready for bedtime.

Now, I’ll admit, I’m quite strict when it comes to our bedtime routine and for Oscar. I’ve always found it to be important to keep it consistent to maximise his sleep quality, so I was a bit dubious about introducing something new at two and a half to our nightly military operation routine.

I needn’t have worried, she’s been a welcomed addition! Oscar switches Suzy on, by pushing down her hat, after bath while he gets his jammies on and she gives us more than enough soothing light to read bedtime stories. In actual fact, I’ve found the light a lot better than the IKEA lamp we used before which was SO bright! After his book(s) we push back down on Suzy’s hat to turn the music off on it and he knows it’s time for bed as the light dims and “Suzy goes to sleep”.

Suzy Snooze by BleepBleeps review

A Bit Of Fancy Tech

As I said, I love a bit of tech, so was a wee bit excited when I realised Suzy could be controlled by my phone via an app (Apple & Android).

This is especially handy for the lie-in function. similar to the concept of a GroClock you can set a time via the app for Suzy to “wake up” in the morning so your toddler knows when it’s ok to get out of bed.

Admittedly, we’re lucky, Oscar very rarely wakes before 8am and we usually leave him in bed until just before 9am. However, he’s still in his cot and therefore can’t escape anywhere! I think when we transition him to his “big boy bed” within the next few months, this function will come in really handy to teach him when it’s ok to get up. I think it’ll help make the transition a lot easier!

The device also acts as a monitor that you can listen to through the phone app. When Oscar was very little I wanted a video monitor to keep an eye on him, but now he’s older, I’m happy with just the audio function – but I’d say that’s worth bearing in mind if you’re buying it to use for a baby!

On a side note: we live in an old house with thick walls and the WiFi on the Suzy has worked perfectly – a big plus for us!

Suzy Snooze by BleepBleeps reviewWhat’s more, it looks great, I mean really great. And the quality is brilliant. The Suzy Snooze feels weighty and well made and a bit funky. The design is suitable from baby to toddler to child as it isn’t too “kiddy” looking while still being engaging for young children.

However, I feel that there is room for improvement in one area in particular and that’s the soothing music. I just wish there were a few more options that you could maybe download onto your phone and choose from whether that be white noise or heart beats for younger babies or soothing sea noises etc for older children – I just think they’ve missed a trick! But it’s a small change and I suppose one that might come in the future, who knows!

The Verdict

All in all, I love it!

Granted, it has quite a high price tag at £179, but, if you haven’t purchased any other products – a fancy monitor, GroClock, Ewan the Sleep Sheep or Slumber Buddy, a nightlight etc then it is definitely good value as a multifunctional product and has great longevity as your baby grows.

And hey, if it can help to give you a lie-in at the weekend then surely it’s worth it’s weight in gold – amma right?!

Suzy Snooze by BleepBleeps review

I Couldn’t Live Without…

“Oh but you need *insert insanely priced ridiculous item here*…”

Before we became parents for the first time, we were told about lots of things we “needed”. We were first time parents, we didn’t really know anyone else with babies so I just took people’s word for it and probably wasted a lot of money in the process…!

Second time round, I tried to streamline our purchases. With clothing I focused on quality over quantity buying mostly basics with some knitted bits and bobs. With other bigger items we are reusing a lot of what we had, however, some items we had were bought on a whim and didn’t quite fit the purpose, so I’ve done a lot more research this time to replace them. Perhaps it’s a case of live and learn because it’s really hard to know what you need before the little human arrives. In reality it’s very little…

So here’s a little run down of our top purchases and not so hot buys! Full disclosure, a few of these items were gifted to me, I’ve made it clear which ones, but my review of them is independent!

Our Top Six Purchases

Sleep

The trusty Next2Me Crib remains our best baby item of all time. It housed little Oscar next to our bed for 8 months and gave me easy access to feeding him every 45 bloody minutes through the night. We looked it out again for Scout and I’m enjoying the convenience of it once again. It’s also fab after a section. Admittedly though, the Snuzpod is prettier!

Scout loves a swaddle, but don’t rush into buying one before baby arrives. Oscar hated it. Try with a blanket first and if they like it I’d recommend this Love To Dream Swaddle Up – this was gifted to me but I will be buying the next size up. Scout has been using hers every night since she was 2 days old and I love it. It takes away the worry of blankets, I always worry about how many they need and also whether they’re tucked in right so the won’t ride up etc. With this I just pop her back down after a feed and there’s no faff! It makes life a lot easier.

A Good All-Rounder

My love for giant muslins will never wane! I use them as crib sheets in the next2me, to cover my feeding cushion, as a sheet in the pram, or even as a makeshift changing mat if I’m out and about – they are a jack of all trades and there are so many nice ones out there in different patterns. The majority of mine have been bought in TK Maxx. Oh and don’t forget to put one in your hospital bag to swaddle the baby for a picture!

Babywearing

Baby wearing has been a life saver for us, especially second time round. I have an Ergo Adapt carrier for when we’re out for the day and have been using it since Scout was just a few days old. My only worry using the carrier with my winter baby was keeping her wee arms and legs warm, snowsuits just felt too bulky and I worried about her overheating. So I bought this little suit from H&M – it’s not the prettiest but it’s great for layering over her clothes and bundling her in the carrier!

In addition to our Ergo, I was kindly gifted an Izmi Bamboo Wrap which I wear pretty much all day every day around the house and even with Scout in and out it all day it stays nice and tight thanks to the 2-way stretch. This was something I never really tried with Oscar, I think I found it a bit daunting but now that I’ve mastered it, it’s a lifesaver – I’m finally handsfree for toddler activities!

Changing

One thing I always thought I needed but just never got round to buying was a changing bag. And that was when I realised they were just a bit unnecessary (and often quite expensive and not that nice looking. Unless you’re going for a Tiba + Marl)! Instead, I’ve always just packed a few nappies, wipes and a spare sleepsuit in my handbag – I travel light. The only change I’ve made this time round is treating myself to a little nappy pouch from Mutha.Hood to keep it all together. Not really out of necessity, I just liked it, but it does make it that bit easier to grab and take to the changing room when we’re out and I’m not fishing through my backpack for a teeny size 1 nappy! Plus it’s cute and supports a small business. I’m a sucker for ‘Mama Merch’!

Feeding

Oh, my trusty feeding cushion. This is a bit of a personal one because I can’t live without it, but a lot of people don’t like using them. The day we had Oscar I was finding positioning for breastfeeding hard and the midwife created a little pillow fortress around me to help and suggested I get a cushion – I ordered one there and then on Amazon Prime and never looked back. That bad boy was used all day every day for 9 months – by the time I stopped using it, it looked a little worse for wear but had been invaluable! I got myself a new one this time round and have loved it all over again – it hangs on the side of the bed for night feeds and on the end of the sofa during the day, it’s always to hand! If you’re struggling with positioning for feeding, I’d highly recommend giving one a go! I got this one from Mamas and Papas.

And lastly, something I don’t have, but would like – a little nightlight for night feeds. Especially in those first weeks when I was trying to make sure Scout was patched properly etc I didn’t need the added worry of possibly blinding her with my 1200W iPhone torch..! A little subtle nightlight beside the bed that I could put on to find a nappy by not illuminate the whole street would be ideal. I’m going to keep on the lookout for one!

When it comes to it, every parent is different, and there’s bound to be stuff that’s not on this list that you end up with that you’ll love, but I suppose the point I wanted to stress was – don’t stress. Don’t stress when people tell you “oh, you’ll need XYZ” and you’re closing in on your due date and you hadn’t even heard of it… as long as you have something to clothe that new bundle in, a few nappies and a car seat to get them home, you’re doing just fine. All they really need is some love, attention and you! Worry about the rest later – Amazon Prime it or something.

Tell me…

What would you add to the list? And what is the one biggest waste of money item you ended up with? Mine is dribble bibs – I was given approximately 650 of them and didn’t even use them once!

Lou x