Louise Emma Clarke treats her three-week old baby to a full body massage…
The benefits of baby massage are said to include easing tummy and teething pains, calming and soothing fussy babies, helping to soothe little ones to sleep, and strengthening the bond between parent and child. With a newborn in the house that has settled into a pattern of fussiness every evening between seven and 10pm, we need all the help we can get - so when we were invited to join a Baby Massage Course for the final session of a five-week course, we jumped at the chance and got ready for some baby zen…
We arrived at Favourite Things on a quiet Sunday morning and Wilfred was due a feed (these newborns never work to the desired schedule). I was anxious that he would start screaming as the class kicked off, but as we walked into the darkened room and met the friendly course leader Amy, I relaxed instantly.
The first thing that struck me was the warmth of the room. It was lit low with a few lamps like a bedroom at night, with a calming soundtrack playing in the background, soft mats covered in towels for the babies to lie on, and big, squashy cushions to make parents comfortable too. I noticed that the three older babies, who were about to enjoy their last of five classes, were wide-awake as they were placed down on the mats on their backs, but were all exceptionally calm. It was as if they knew what was coming and were pleased as punch about it – and thinking about it, I’d be pretty chuffed too if I was about to be treated to a full body massage.
It wasn’t just the room that was warm, but the attendees too. If the other mums were annoyed that I had hijacked their class in the final session, they certainly didn’t show it. The ambience was very friendly, intimate and inviting – and as Wilfred started to root for a feed, I had no qualms about lifting my top to feed him, as the other mums took turns to introduce themselves and their babies.
After a quick feed, Wilfred was ready to join in with the action. The session started with a recap of what was learnt in the previous four sessions, covering legs, tummies, chests, arms and faces. We started by rubbing oil between our hands to warm it up and warning our babies that the massage was about to start by saying: “Wilfred, would you like a massage?” I did feel a bit daft asking a three-week old for permission, but I understand the theory of repetition.
We started with legs, so I rolled his sleep suit up to his waist and followed the moves that Amy made on a doll in front of us. Wilfred was wide awake, but totally serene – he moved his head to one side and Amy explained that the younger babies tended to look away, rather than make eye contact with their parent. I noticed that the two older babies in the class were looking straight at their mums, while Wilfred and another youngster looked away. He was so calm that he almost went into a trance – and he stayed that way as the massage moved onto his tummy and chest.
By the time we moved onto arms, Wilfred’s tummy was rumbling again and I abandoned the massage to feed him. As I fed, I watched Amy continue the massage routine and made mental notes to try the techniques at home. Once again, I was impressed by how relaxed the class was – babies cried, babies fed, and babies were sick (nobody batted an eyelid when Wilfred was dramatically sick all down my top and I spent several minutes mopping myself up…)
The class lasted 1.5 hours, which included a chat and demonstration on baby carriers and a ‘final thought’. For the latter, Amy read out a poem on motherhood – and as I looked down at my (now fast asleep) newborn, I felt tears spring into my eyes. The part about baby massage being a bonding experience is certainly true – and with an amazing three-hour nap to follow, I can’t argue with the ‘soothing’ part either. In fact, I can’t think of a better way for new parents to spend the morning, enveloped in such warmth and tranquility - it certainly beats trying to calm a screaming baby in a busy café…
The five-week Baby Massage Course runs at Favourite Things, Marina Mall on a Sunday 10am-11.30am and Horizon Kids Nursery on a Wednesday 10am-11.30am. The course costs Dhs600 (or Dhs550 if you refer a friend). Call 050 329 8208 or email email@example.com to book.