Cathy Collyer, OTR, LMT
Pediatric Occupational Therapist, Massage Therapist
Westchester County, New York
CHBE since 2013
Cathy is an occupational therapist in private practice just north of NYC, treating infants and young children in their homes through community early intervention programs or by referral. The children she works with range in age from newborn to early elementary ages, and have primarily neurological issues or developmental delays. Cathy is a certified infant massage instructor and massage therapist. She also teaches in religious institutions, child development programs and in the correctional system.
Cathy first became familiar with the Happiest Toddler on the Block as a method to help manage toddler behavior in her occupational therapy practice. Tantrums and whining can derail even the best patient session! The Happiest Toddler techniques were a huge success for her, and so when she learned that Dr. Karp had written The Happiest Baby on the Block as well, she was very excited to have new ideas to help her youngest clients and their parents.
While Cathy was watching a demonstration in her infant massage certification program, the instructor was unable to demonstrate her protocol with a 4-week old because he was crying so intensely. Nursing and rocking were not calming him, and the instructor suggested that he was not “ready” to receive more massage. Cathy really wanted to support this mother and child but did not feel confident that she could explain THB techniques correctly in front of the group. It was then that Cathy decided to become a certified educator.
Fussy preemies and babies with neurological issues tire quickly in therapy and often cry. Cathy uses THB and massage to teach parents about newborn sensory-motor needs and how to read their baby’s cues correctly to gently connect with their newborns at the end of the day. Parents are excited to see how easy it is to calm their babies and prepare them for sleep with these two tools.
Cathy’s favorite experience teaching the 5 S’s was in the corrections system. Following giving a class to incarcerated moms, the parenting services coordinator told Cathy that a mother and her baby had just joined the group. The mom had delivered her child while addicted to drugs, and the baby was experiencing withdrawal symptoms. The other mothers from the class taught herTHB techniques and it helped both the mother and her newborn get through the process of detoxification. Cathy said, “I was so proud that the women from my class had become a positive force in their own community.”
Cathy reports that her greatest pleasure in teaching happens as exhausted and frustrated parents change their relationship with their newborn when they master the 5 S’s. Seeing the quick positive results is so empowering, they fall in love with their little one all over again!
Cathy writes a blog for her clients called Baby Bytes, and frequently posts items about the 5 S’s, sleep issues, positioning safety, and newborn development. Thanks, Cathy. You’re making a real difference!
Originally published by the Happiest Baby Education Association.