I heard of the Virlanie Foundation through a friend of mine quite a few years ago.
She was unable to have children and looked into the foundation as a way to give back to the community we live in, and spend time with kids who were waiting to be adopted into loving homes. I know that she enjoyed her time she spent monthly at the organization in Makati, and she said it was hugely gratifying to be able to hug on and kiss on the kiddies that she would visit with from time to time.
The Virlanie Foundation established the Babies and Toddlers Home in 2013 to be able to provide a nurturing, loving and caring environment for very young children from 0-3 years old. Many of these children suffered abuse or neglect, and some of them were surrendered by their relatives. These young ones were considered “at risk” and prone to child trafficking and abuse.
I was invited to take part in a small outreach that Johnson & Johnsons was giving for the caregivers of these beautiful children by The SoMoms. The informative seminar would offer new ways to help the children develop and grow through the sensory experiences of bath time.
Together with some of my other mom blogger friends and Johnson and Johnson Brand Ambassador Rica Peralejo, we reinforced our learning of the importance of providing sensory experiences for all of our children, young and old.
Dra. Theresa Hilario-Jimenez gave an informative talk where the caregivers learned how sensory experiences alter the development of the brain. Here are some of the key points from her talk:
- A complex, stimulus rich environment produces a wealth of experiences that generally lead to the improved functioning of the brain.
- Touch can release the hormone oxytocin, which can encourage or reinforce the feeling of closeness that comes with bonding.
- Routine touching and massage can improve baby’s physiologic, cognitive, emotional and social development.
- Nurturing relationships and enriching environments established through sensory experiences improves the Executive Brain Functions of all children.
- By providing a nurturing environment for children, through sensory rich experiences like bath time and massage rituals, caregivers are setting the stage for them to be productive and successful members of society and ultimately shaping the future with each life they touch.
After meeting the children when they came home from their day at school, we were able to get to know them a little bit more during their snack time.
After lunch, The Integrated Midwives Association of the Philippines demonstrated the proper ways to give a newborn, and infant, and a toddler a bath using the same Johnson’s & Johnson’s products that we all know and love.
Of course when bathing infants and new borns the best (and yummiest smelling) option for the swaddle method of bathing is to use the Johnson’s and Johnson’s Top to Toe bath soap. Back home, we called this Head to Toe and I have been using it with all of my babies ever since they were born.
It was interesting for me to revisit the proper way to bathe your toddler. Truth is, we still use the “No More Tears” formula for Baby shampoo with Gelli even if she has passed on through her toddler years. The important thing to remember when bathing toddlers is to keep them safe. Many times the kids just want to explore, stand up, and even jump in the tub. Keeping them in a seated position and using the proper products as they grown can help in this endeavor.
And as the kids get bigger they play harder!!! This is why their new Active Fresh sent is perfect for Big Kids! Playing in the bath may be a little easier for your big kid, but keeping them fresh smelling and clean without the worry of harsh products or perfumes is what J & J is known for after all these years.
Both Rica and Kris also shared a little bit about their journey in motherhood. There is a connection that is made through this sharing that helps all of us realize that we are all in this together.
One thing that both Rica and I were amazed about was the fact that even if these caregivers did not give birth to the babies that they were caring for, it was CLEAR that their touch was a MOTHER’S touch…their love for the children they were caring for was also a MOTHER’S love.
Kris was so moved by the entire experience with Virlanie, the children, the people who were present and giving of themselves, that she pledged she would be sponsoring a child to help further the Virlanie Mission.
After watching all the midwives and listening to the sharing of both Rica and Kris, one thing I found myself doing was thinking about how each of my babies was during their bath times. When they were infants, bath times was one of my favorite times with them…right up there with breastfeeding and rocking them to sleep. I would sing to each of my children and make sure that they enjoyed each of these different times of day we had together.
Each of The SoMoms was asked to share something with the caregivers that we do with our own children which we know is beneficial to their health and development as well. This is something that I have always appreciated about this group that I am happy to be a member of. The SoMoms all bring so many different things to the table and the sharing of our passions is enriching. I enjoy learning from each of my momma friends…it offers me so much more in my own parenting journey AND in my life.
Jen Tan shared how baby wearing is not only good for momma but good for the baby too. She even donated a few slings for the caregivers to use for the infants.
Jen shared how Attachment Parenting benefits children as they grow. She shared how to baby wear the infants so that they are more secure as they grow up.
- Baby wearing provides an environment where the baby cries much less.
- Baby is closer to the mother/caregiver and feels more secure.
- This enables the baby to be in a quieter ALERT state, thereby learning more from his surroundings.
- Babies are at the eye level of the baby wearer. He sees and hears what the baby wearer sees and hears promoting learning because we know that the saying goes “Babies are like sponges.”
- Therefore, there is more time to bond with your baby, promoting healthier physical, mental, and emotional development.
- And on top of that-Mommy has free hands to do other things! Hello!!! We always say we need one more set of hands!
Tin shared how reading aloud to children can also help in their development.
Children who have parents who read aloud to them can benefit from:
- The mental exercise of reading books aloud encourages critical thinking.
- Children who enjoy reading books have an increased vocabulary.
- Children who are read aloud to have a better understanding of their feelings and empathy for others.
- Children who enjoy read aloud times in their daily schedules can entertain themselves by picking up a book. They will find joy and entertainment in reading.
Of the many things that Conci can do, she is also a dancer. (I didn’t know this!) She shared how dancing with the kids can help their growth and development as well.
Children who enjoy dance as an activity can:
- enjoy improved physical health by getting their heart rate up.
- improved social and communication skills
- have a positive and improved self esteem
- nurture creativity and the appreciation of the arts.
I was able to share a quick lesson on yoga. I was able to teach the little ones how to complete a Sun Salutation. I wish I could have worked with the newborn baby, because it’s equally as easy to work with the infants for infant yoga as it is for kids yoga. The only difference between practicing yoga for an infant is that the caregiver is manipulating the baby’s body to hold the poses. The infant will STILL benefit from each of the poses EVEN if they are not doing it by themselves.
SO, poses which help relieve gas and improve digestion are first on the list when working with an infant. They are quite easy and not scary at all. In fact, I was practicing yoga with Gellibean when I brought her home from the hospital at two weeks old. I believe it helped her greatly with hypotonia and her delicate digestive tract due to duodenal atresia.
Children who practice yoga:
- Sleep better
- Breathe better
- Eat healthier
- Have better posture
- They enjoy an improved self esteem and self awareness.
- They have better digestion.
- They are more aware of the world we live in.
The opportunity to share myself in such a small and intimate way was truly rewarding. I enjoyed spending time with these children, their caregivers and the J & J Team. I count my blessings to be given moments where I can share my gifts, and be reminded just how much each child deserves #somuchmore. And even if I don’t live in a perfect world where every child’s needs are met, I do live in a world where organizations like Virlanie #HelpOurBabies by doing everything they can to meet their babies’ needs who are in their care.
Thank you Johnson & Johnson for giving me the opportunity to join this outreach and refresh the importance of sensory experiences in child rearing. It was a wonderful day well spent with the children and the staff of Virlanie Foundation.