Infant Massage is the very special art of using nurturing touch to communicate with your baby, to show them that they are loved, welcomed and respected, and that they can feel safe and secure in their new world. It is a wonderful way of bonding with your baby as it works on an emotional as well as a physical level, developing closeness between parent and baby that has lifelong benefits.
Parents/Caregivers massage their own baby using a specifically designed series of strokes. This series combines Indian and Swedish massage along with Reflexology techniques and some gentle yoga based exercises into a routine designed to be beneficial for infants.
The person bringing the baby to the class will massage the baby. This could be mum or dad, a grandparent or a foster parent for example. Baby massage is a very intimate bonding experience with a baby and therefore the International Association of Infant Massage recommends that it should only be done by those closest to the baby.
Classes are suitable for babies from birth to pre-crawling, so up to about 8 or 9 months should be fine for attending, depending on the individual baby. Some instructors prefer babies to be 4 to 6 weeks before they join a course so you should check with the individual instructor when enrolling.
The reason for the upper limit is that it is more challenging to massage a baby who has begun crawling, as they will be more interested in moving off to explore their surroundings.
My baby cries a lot. What will I do if this happens during the classes?
These are baby classes and crying is welcomed and accepted. All babies cry! This is how they communicate. Classes are entirely “baby led” and you should feel free to tend to your baby’s needs in whatever way you need to by feeding, changing, walking around etc. while class is going on. The instructor will usually keep going as much as possible but if there is a general outcry a little “cuddle break” will often be taken.
Cost of baby massage courses vary and are set by each individual instructor. The price will depend on how many weeks the course is run over, the duration of each class, and on such things as how much it is costing the instructor to rent the venue etc. You could expect to pay anywhere between about €100 and €150. You should enquire with individual instructors regarding their prices.
Can I get a refund of course fees on my health insurance policy?
YES. If you are on the appropriate plan with your health insurance company you will be able to claim a refund of fees. All the major Health Insurance companies (VHI, Aviva,
Laya and GloHealth) refund up to €100 of the cost of a course. It is important to note that
to qualify for this refund you must do a course with an instructor who is a member of Baby Massage Ireland.
You should check with your health insurance provider to ensure you are on a plan that qualifies and your instructor will give you with a receipt which will enable you to claim the refund.
There are lots of different plans available with the various companies. We stress that you need to check with your insurer to see if you qualify for a refund of fees
BEFORE doing a course.
I have twins, can I still attend a course and how will I manage to massage 2 babies?
Twins are very welcome at classes. You will need to check with the instructor whose classes you are planning to attend, but most instructors would advise that it is best to bring along another adult to massage one of the babies while you massage the other. Ideally you could bring along your partner, a grandparent, an older sibling perhaps, or a relative or close friend. As baby massage is intimate and a lovely way of bonding with the baby, you should try to bring someone who will have a close relationship with your baby.
I have twins, will I have to pay course fees for 2 babies?
You will need to check this with the instructor whose classes you are planning to attend. Instructors will usually be paying rent to hire the room in which they run their classes and may need to charge per baby to cover costs. If you have Health Insurance Cover, most of the policies covering baby massage will refund €100 per baby and therefore you will be able to claim back for both. If you do not have insurance cover you should mention this to the instructor and they will advise of their own policy in this regard.
Can I do a private baby massage class with an instructor?
Most instructors will be delighted to do a private class or classes with parents and will often arrange to come to the family home to do this. The cost may be a little higher for this service and you need to check with individual instructors regarding their arrangements.
How much would a private class with an instructor cost?
The cost of a private session will be set by the individual instructor with whom you intend to do the class. You need to take into account that they may be travelling to your home to give the class, so there would be travel expenses and travel time to be included in their price. You could probably expect to pay anywhere between €50 to €80 per session. You should enquire with individual instructors regarding their prices.
I’ve been feeling very down since the birth of my baby and
do not feel like going to a group class as I might not be in very good form. What
should I do?
Don’t worry, lots of mums feel like this after having a baby. You may be surprised
to find that it is a support being in an environment where others are experiencing
similar feelings, worries and problems as yourself. Most instructors include time
for a cup of tea/coffee and a chat during or after their classes, and talking with
other mums can really improve your form and help you cope.
Research also shows that baby massage can help to improve the feelings and moods
you may be experiencing. When you massage your baby, the hormone ‘oxytocin’ is
released into your body. This is also known as ‘the hormone of love’ and it will
lift your mood and help you feel better.
It might be a big effort to enrol for a group course, but you should try it. It
may help in more ways than you would expect.
My baby is very active. What will I do if he won’t lie still for the massage?
It is natural for babies to be active and curious. Some babies will just want to see what’s going on around them and check out where they are and who is there! Remember, all baby massage classes are ‘baby led’ and it is perfectly ok for a baby to be active during the class. Most of the strokes taught can be adapted to babies in a sitting position, so this might be an option for you as the parent of an active baby. Also remember that just because you are attending a baby massage class at a particular time, does not mean that your baby will want to be massaged at that particular time. It is ok just to watch the strokes and then you can try them at another time at home when it might suit your baby a little better. You may get some of the strokes done but not all of them and again this is perfectly ok.
What will I do if I need to feed my baby or to change a nappy during the class?
At baby massage classes you should always feel free to feed or change your baby as and when needed. These are baby classes and are entirely ‘baby led’. You do what is needed for your baby whenever it is needed. Anywhere that there is a group of babies gathered, there will always be
at least one of the babies needing to be fed or changed, so you shouldn’t worry when this is your baby! Instructors will usually keep the class going as much as possible and if you find that you miss out on strokes, your instructor will ensure that these strokes are recapped so you will learn them later.
You will need to check this with the instructor whose classes you are attending but normally you just need to bring along anything you may need for feeding or changing your baby and maybe 1 or 2 towels in case you decide to massage with the nappy off. Other requirements will usually be supplied.
Your baby can wear anything, but it is a good idea to have them dressed in something that is easy to take on and off, as you will be undressing them for the massage. It is also a good idea to bring along a change of clothes for them.
What will I do if my baby is asleep while the class is going on?
If your baby is asleep while the class is going on you have 2 options. You can observe the class and then try the strokes at home later, at a time that suits your baby better. Alternatively, the instructor will often have a spare doll available and you can practice the strokes on the doll, as the instructor is doing in the demonstration, and do the massage later with your baby.
How many weeks does a Baby Massage Course run for?
The duration of the course will depend on the instructor you are enrolling with but
is usually 5 weeks. You should check with the individual instructor whose classes you are planning to attend. Some instructors will also allow you to repeat their course at a reduced price should you wish to keep coming along after your course is over.