When Kirsteen asked me to contribute to this beautiful blog I was beyond excited by the opportunity. Believing in the power of nurturing touch and the healing effects of self-care, I have come to realize one of the many layers of my life’s purpose and passion. It is my joy and honor to serve those with no voice and to guide caregivers on how to better look after themselves. Truth is, I simply love this work and I know if you try it with yourself and your little ones you will too.
Nurturing touch allows for a bond to form which lasts a life time and is also scientifically researched to affect not just the brain chemistry but the very essence of you and your child’s wellness. I have worked with Infants, Children and Caregivers in this capacity for a year now. It gives me great joy to share, with an open heart, passion and a voice to help caregivers understand the basics of how infant massage, nurturing touch and self-care can make a positive difference. Doing this work in loving service for those with no voice, and believing fully in it, its power to heal and nurture, is truly an authentic blessing to all who come to find it. The fact of the matter is: Infant massage has been practiced for years and years, spanning a large number of countries. I believe it is now our time to reawaken its power to affect a child’s well being as well as to reawaken within ourselves, as caregivers, a way to serve our own sacred selves better, from a space of love.
My hope is that through my own training with infant massage, education and fifteen years of life experience as a massage and bodywork therapist, as well as my passion for self-care, this article will enable you to become better informed on how to look after yourself and your family.
I offer basics of self-care and how infant massage can help you to better bond with your child and possibly help alleviate some common childhood ailments presenting themselves in the early years of a child’s life. I have also included some key points to consider before you decide to embark on the infant massage journey, and I share self–care techniques that have been found to help with caregivers who are simply exhausted and fatigued from a lack of sleep. Sleep deprivation can upset the body, mind and spirit balance, so I have added to the beginning of each class session I teach, some basic self–care techniques for your practice alone and with your child or whole family.
The benefits of Infant Massage are both for the caregiver and the child. These can be generalized into four main categories:
Each category becomes a key role in forming the whole of the infant massage experience. The infant’s whole bodily system improves in function by maintaining health of all systems of your infant’s body. Infant massage helps to aid in the well – being of skeletal, muscular, digestive, circulatory, respiratory, and nervous systems. The benefits of massage for baby, caregiver and family are vast and the experience positively affects the child’s well- being for a lifetime. An improvement of bonding, relaxation, communication, social interaction, development, confidence and fun can be experienced through infant massage.
With each ailment a specific massage routine will be taught by your facilitator to alleviate discomfort and help aid in relaxation. When practiced daily with your child, this greatly increases chances that you and your child will develop a bond, as well as receive the benefits of the treatment fully.
Also to consider are contraindications and precautions for infant massage therapy and situations where infant massage may not be performed due to special healthcare needs.
When practicing infant massage on your baby you must be aware of behavioral states, cues and reflexes. The infant’s behavior is influenced by state, temperament and the ability of the infant to self-regulate. Each infant is an individual being with a different personality and traits so this will determine how to cater your massage, just have fun with the guidance and listen intuitively to your baby with an open heart and see the beauty and bonding that unfolds with in each moment. It is vitally important to keep an open mind when deciding to begin a session by honoring your infant’s cues.
One of the key topics I am personally very passionate about is not only providing bonding, relaxing and stress relieving infant massage but also providing self-care for the caregivers who attend my infant massage classes. Not only do the infants receive amazing benefits, but so do their caregivers, thus nurturing the inner child in us all! Infant massage, when applied, affects the levels of cortisol present in the infant’s body. Massage reduces levels of cortisol (stress hormone) which is a vitally important hormone in the body that is secreted by the adrenal glands and is involved in proper glucose metabolism, regulation of blood pressure, insulin release for blood sugar maintenance, immune function and inflammatory response. There has been research done by a passionate Touch Research advocate, Dr. Tiffany Field, on how infants who experienced massage therapy compared with infants in the rocking control group. spent more time in active alert and active awake states, cried less, and had lower salivary cortisol levels, suggesting lower stress. You can read more about Dr. Field’s research here: http://www6.miami.edu/touch-research/
Self-care techniques such as breath work, guided visualization meditation, enjoying hands on play with song, plus spontaneous laughter, all create an environment for the caregiver to share and receive a bit of much needed relaxation and joy along with their baby at some stage of each infant massage session facilitated. Sleep deprivation and fatigue, as noted above, is often the most common complaint with new parents or any kind of caregiver. My aim as a facilitator has always been to understand this need for a space not just of bonding and education, but also nurturing and replenishment. With the demands of a caregiver being so draining at times, these sessions aim at reclaiming a sense of nurturing for you and for your child alike.
Nurturing is our divine birthright, it is time now to begin Nurturing You just as you Nurture your child, thus nurturing your inner child! I thank my mentor, Tina Allen, for her contribution to serving children. Her writing and teaching have been referenced often in this blog article. I am thankful for her guidance and expertise on this subject. She is an internationally known master teacher of Infant Massage and Pediatric Massage Therapy. You can visit her website to gain further valuable information beyond this blog at www.liddlekidz.com. My aim is to continue my education with her for years to come.
A huge thank you as well to Kirsteen McLay-Knopp, who found the Facebook group I created months back after I successfully become a certified infant massage teacher. She asked if it would be possible to post links to her blog onto our group- Nurtured Child, Nurtured You: of course I loved this idea! Since then, she has shared countless blog articles from which my heart has felt grateful for the presence of the words. I am very thankful to have connected to The Forever Years blog and community and hope that my contribution today strives to further educate its followers and hold true to the mission of The Forever Years, which resonates deeply with my own mission and is a beautiful testament to children worldwide!
The mission of The Forever Years is to elevate advocacy voices for children through social media and to encourage the heart of parents and caregivers, providing a supportive interactive community for parents at any stage of their parenting journey. The mission of Nurtured Child, Nurtured You is to guide and facilitate infant massage, nurturing touch, breath work, guided visualization and relaxation techniques with caregivers in a way that is educational, playful and healing all at the same time, whilst understanding that healing, nurturing and wellness are our divine birthright. The goal of Nurtured Child, Nurtured You is to educate caregivers with guidance and training on nurturing touch and self-care education, which helps aid in healing not solely for the children, but also for the divine child within the caregiver. It is our pleasure and life service to be a voice for children and to seek justice and education, to bring about the best outcome for health and well-being for children and those who care for them.
About Erin Sonnier
Erin Sonnier (based in Australia) has dedicated her life’s mission to serving humanity from a young age. Through her own life experiences and natural evolution she’s realized how best to serve. As a practicing professional massage and bodywork therapist for fifteen years, she values health and well-being and believes in the power of touch to aid the body in its own unique healing process. Erin believes all children deserve nurturing and bonding with their caregivers and has developed Nurtured Child, Nurtured You to guide humanity in a way that is educational, playful and healing all at the same time. Erin is passionate about giving voice to those with none and seeks justice and education to bring about better health and well-being for humanity, Mother Earth and her inhabitants. Since 2011 Erin has been facilitating educational classes for caregivers. Erin was trained by Carey Smith, MSC- Director of the Center for Embodied Teacher Education in Siler City, North Carolina, USA. Erin believes in the healing power of touch to aid in health and well-being for caregivers, the growing child and all of humanity. In 2013 Erin began training with Liddle Kidz Foundation, an international organization with a focus on Nurturing Touch and Massage Education for Infants and Children. She became a Certified Infant Massage Teacher in early 2014 and is actively teaching in the local Perth WA community. Erin’s personal philosophy is that we are all one, connected within a web of universal life which serves a purpose for us to integrate, heal, grow and evolve.