In March 2014, I attended the 4 day training to become an Infant Massage Instructor. I was very inspired by our trainer and her passion to deliver Infant Massage and I was very excited to be able to do the same. A colleague of mine, Debbie, had been qualified for 4 years.
As part of my training and to become qualified, I had to set up a group to deliver Infant Massage to parents/carers and their infants. As the service I work for supports children with additional needs, this had to be discussed with my supervisor who was also very supportive of the idea and could see the benefits this would have for our client group. Debbie and I spent some time finding the most appropriate venue, which had to be easily accessible and would provide a large open space as we needed to cater for wheelchairs or extra equipment that the children may need. In most cases, we were lucky to already know these children and families quite well as they were already known to the service. With other children, we made close links with the local Child Development Centre to gather further information from professionals that had previously been working closely with the families.
We contacted every parent individually by phone, so we had broken the ice with a friendly voice. This also gave us the opportunity to gather up to date information regarding the child’s medical/additional needs and for the parent/carer to ask us any questions if they had anxieties about the group.
When running a group for children with additional needs, we realised flexibility had to be paramount. We allowed extra time at the beginning and end of every session and we added on an extra class to cater for a child that had missed a session due to ill health.
During every session, Debbie and I were very mindful to adapt the course according to the child’s individual needs. If a child had a gastrostomy, NG tube, or had recently had surgery, we offered the parent a doll to massage instead so they could still participate. We ensured the class was run at a pace that both parent/carer and infant were comfortable with and repetition was key, we recommended the parent/carer asked permission before massaging every part of the body. If the infants needed a break sooner than stated in the course, then we would take this break and start again when everyone was ready – the infants ran the course and we were guided by them!
As well as running a group, we have also been lucky enough to be able to deliver Infant Massage in children’s home on an individual basis. This gave us the opportunity to build close relationships with both parent/carer and infant. We were able to observe the infants’ subtle cues and share the small, positive responses that the child makes with the parent/carer.
It can be difficult for parents to come to terms with having a child with additional needs and through infant massage we have been able to be part of their discussions, sharing their experiences and being able to teach them something which could potentially have some positive benefits. We are very excited to be able to continue delivering Infant Massage with families and children that we work with.

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