Introducing Tactile Tots and the lady behind the business

Catherine of Tactile Tots tells us about her love for children and why she set up business in Winchester.


Although I was born in Winchester, my time here was very brief, and I spent most of my formative years growing up on the other side of the country (or so the M25 makes it feel!) in Suffolk. Despite all of its rural charms, I always felt restless in Suffolk, spending my early twenties desperate to leave. So, when I decided the time had finally come to get an education (at 25 years old!) I took the opportunity to start afresh somewhere new and moved down to Southampton to go to University.

The total opposite of Suffolk, Southampton offered me a whole new world of city life, cruise ships and pizza delivery… and I HATED it. However, by that time I had met and fallen in love with my future husband. 

I shall always remember one of the first places my husband-to-be took me during that time, was for a day out in Winchester, the much-fabled city of my birth. One visit was all it took, I was hooked. Despite both of us being poverty stricken nursing students, we followed our hearts and decided to move to the one of the most expensive cities in the UK. Back home in Suffolk, people gawped at the house prices saying “you could get a four-bed for that up here!” but for me, Winchester was worth it. It was the first place I’ve lived where I felt at truly home.

I have since learnt that this is not an uncommon feeling amongst us Wintonians, and often have heard the phrase “Winchester girls always return!”

Fast forward five years, and now happily settled in Winchester with our little girl, the timecame for me to consider balancing my career as a Health Visitor with my new role as a Mum . Having spent most of my professional life in jobs where I had the privilege of helping to support parents and their children, becoming a mum myself confirmed to me how important it is to have this support available, and how much I loved doing it. However, with the ever-growing pressures on our health service, I felt I was personally no longer able to offer the time and support that new parents so often crave, or indeed the service that I would have wanted myself as a new mum. It was with this in mind that I took the plunge and made the decision to start my business Tactile Tots.

Currently my focus with Tactile Tots is to support parents through delivering Infant Massage classes, but eventually I hope to offer a private Health Visiting service to complement the NHS programme, with a focus on supporting families struggling with colic, a subject which I am passionate about having dedicated my postgraduate studies towards it. 

Infant Massage has been shown to help enhance bonding and attachment, as well as helping to soothe and calm babies suffering from digestive problems or difficulty sleeping. However, the classes I deliver are not solely focussed on massaging babies. I believe the key to an infant’s wellbeing is the wellbeing of both of their parents/caregivers and so providing a safe, supportive environment is a vital part for Infant Massage, a truly holistic approach.

We all know that strong community support is essential for health and wellbeing, but it is particularly vital for new parents in a day and age where we live such isolated lives, often miles away from our families. Many new mothers leave busy, high achieving jobs to have their babies, and the extreme change in pace of life can sometimes be a difficult adjustment. Although it is a time in many of our lives where we are never actually alone, it can at times feel extremely lonely.

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Ensuring my classes are led in a friendly and welcoming manner is fundamental to the creation of a supportive environment, helping to build those vital friendships and networks in the early days of parenthood. Each week, time is dedicated to checking in with parents and sharing the highs and lows. It’s amazing to witness how sharing experiences or stresses to a sympathetic group can lift a parent’s mood, and allow them to leave feeling a little lighter than when they arrived. 

What’s lovely is that this group bonding experience seems to have the added benefit of often leading to coffee and cake, a key ingredient to surviving those early days of a new baby! Especially as Winchester offers such a great variety.

As well as all of the benefits for baby, I have to say for me one of the absolute best things about learning to massage your baby is that you are bothlearning a life skill that will keep you connected with your child, even in the trickiest of parenting moments. Even though my daughter is now an extremely busy and wriggly toddler, she still finds comfort in sitting quietly with her mummy and having her feet and legs massaged – anopportunity for us both to relax. It is something I hope will continue to offer us a connection throughout the years, and even though I know she won’t always want to talk to her embarrassing mother, she just might let me rub her feet after a tough exam.

And who knows, maybe one day she will end up being one of those girls who always return to Winchester! 

If you are interested in finding out more about Tactile Tots Infant Massage course, please contact Catherine:

Phone: 07828528810