This is a very good question and the most frequently asked question I get. I could talk about this for a long time, but will try and condense my thoughts and response:
For me the newborn weeks are so precious. A time for connection and communication, healing and repair and of adaption and adjustment and not just for the baby but the whole family. I am passionate that parents know they are enough and that young babies do not need stimulation outside of what they can give.
For me newborn classes should support this transitional phase and I haven’t come across any yet that I feel offer this, except baby massage.
Newborn babies are only awake for very short periods and can easily be overwhelmed and stressed. Too many sensory experiences can lead to a fussy and unsettled baby.
During baby massage (which if you think about it is a multisensory experience in itself) we will spend time observing our babies, introducing the strokes gradually according to their response, building week on week with each baby leading their experience.
Yes, this does mean that very young babies may not experience much massage during the classes, but this is fine. The course helps parents understand when it is best to massage THEIR baby and the tools are provided to take massage home and introduce when their baby is ready.
In my experience baby massage is generally one of the first classes parents with newborns look to join. Starting massage in the newborn weeks does have advantages particularly when it comes to tummy strokes as these that can be an invaluable tool for the relief of gas and wind. However there is no set age of when babies can start, this depends on each family, their situation and what they are hoping to get from the course.
I am happy to take babies from birth on my course but find that most babies are around 6-8 weeks when they join a course, mainly because committing to something at a certain time each week before this time can seem daunting/impossible.