I have taken Belle on several courses now. It’s not only a great way of getting out and about and meeting fellow mums, but it’s a brilliant early development enablement for your little ones.
The first class I attended was the NCT’s Baby Massage course, and this was recommended to me whilst I was heavily pregnant by my NCT Antenatal leader. Babies can’t understand language in their first couple of weeks in this scary wide world, but they do understand being held, cuddled or stroked. Baby massage works on natural impulse and helps parents build an initial bond with their little ones.
So first and foremost – have you heard of NCT? The NCT is a charitable organisation that has been running for the past 60 years. The main aims of the organisation are to ensure all parents and expecting parents are supported, correctly informed and left feeling confident. I attended the Signature Antenatal Course whilst pregnant, read about my experience here.
Massage for babies was introduced in neonatal wards over 30 years ago, and there has been significant evidence since that it decreases postnatal bodily complications in babies. There is widespread belief that baby massage can also increase a mum’s awareness of her baby’s needs in the very early days, and also improve mum’s own self satisfaction and wellbeing.
Baby massage consists of rhythmic stroking of your baby’s feet, ankles, wrists, hands and little tums. You do get the chance to show off your amazing vocals too, so be prepared to sing lots of nursery rhymes to help give a sense of reassurance to your little one (or learn some new ones as I did).
There are no set guidelines on when you should and shouldn’t start baby massage, but I started when Belle was 6 weeks old. Belle was sometimes very grouchy throughout, but other times she would sleep the whole way through. Her behaviour wasn’t always predictable, but when can you ever predict a baby’s behaviour from day to day. The baby massage classes increased my confidence getting out and about with Belle, gave me a bit of ‘mummy’ time to have a natter with my fellow mum pals and build on my special bond with my daughter. In the evenings, I would teach Daddy how to massage Belle and this gave him that special bonding time too.
These are some of the techniques used in the NCT’s Baby Massage classes:
1. Ask your baby for permission to start the massage (controversial but it ensures your little one starts to develop an early understanding of language and questions).
2. Oil your hands with any choice of baby massage oil you like. You have to bring this along with you. Everybody is so different and your baby’s skin can be a lot more sensitive than another baby. I used Johnson’s Baby Oil which doesn’t contain many impurities.
3. Using the palms of your hands you will then start massaging your baby using NCT led special techniques. You can ask for a print-out so you can teach your partner too.
4. You may then start singing nursery rhymes such as ’round and round the garden like a teddy bear’ whilst massaging your little ones feet and toes.
5. You will then repeat techniques and develop the massage onto other areas of your baby’s body.
Belle didn’t enjoy baby massage until a few weeks in, so persevere and keep practicing your techniques at home. I’d highly recommend the class for bonding time and to just get out the house with your tiny tot.
The course runs over a five week period and starts at £47.
For more information on NCT Baby Massage Classes in your area, click here.