Monthly Archives: June 2014

The “Container” Baby


By Bridget Hobbs, PT, DPT

Step into any baby store, and you will no doubt see a large number of devices that ‘contain’ your baby. These ‘containers’ range from Bumbo seats, swings, bouncers, car seats, walkers, jumpers and exersaucers.

The ‘container baby’ is a relatively new term used in pediatrics to describe a baby that spends a lot of its time in a containing device. When a baby is in this type of device, it does not allow the baby to move around and explore its environment. This places the baby at risk for gross and fine motor delays, torticollis (tightening of one side of the neck), plagiocephaly (flattening of one side of the head), and brachycephaly (flattening of the back of the head), not to mention a lack of sensory experiences.

Here are some tips on how to avoid your baby being a container baby:

Help your baby love tummy time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all babies sleep on their back. However, supervised playtime on baby’s tummy will help develop neck, back, and shoulder muscles and help to ensure a nice, round head.

Starting when you first bring your baby home from the hospital, place your baby on his tummy 3-4 times per day, and aim for about 5 minutes of tummy playtime each time. Some babies will not like tummy time at first, but will eventually prefer it. Incorporate mirrors at their level, use a boppy pillow for support, and even get down on the floor with your baby to increase bonding. Playing games like ‘airplane,’ placing baby on your chest on her tummy while singing a song, and colorful tummy time mats are also helpful.

Limit the ‘containers’ that you buy in the first place. Sure, car seats and strollers are must haves. However, Bumbo seats, bouncers, and swings should be used in moderation, if at all. A good rule of thumb is to think back to your childhood. Did your parents have enough baby equipment to fill up an entire living room? Probably not. In fact, the best toys and things for your babies are things that can fit in a toy chest: blocks, puzzles, books, colorful toys and balls. Baby store associates are very good at convincing you that you will need every item of equipment on the market. Try not to give in and think about what you will really need/use and what will best promote development and learning for your baby.

Good “containers” include playpens and front and back carriers. In a playpen, your baby will have room to learn to roll, pull to stand and crawl while you get a few minutes to do the dishes or put a load of laundry in the washing machine. The front and back carriers also promote good head control, allowing your baby to look side to side and increase bonding between you and your baby.

With the amount of baby equipment on the market, it is hard to decide what your baby will actually need and benefit from. Try to limit ‘container’ usage to help your baby have the best development possible.

References: American Academy of Pediatrics

“But I don’t want to go to Paris! Why can’t we just stay home?” Tips to Make Vacations Easier!

Blog Post Maureen 6.11.14

By Maureen Karwowski

When I heard one young boy say, “But I don’t want to go to Paris! Why can’t we just stay home,” I thought, “Who would not want to go to Paris?”. However, I started to think about how nerve racking it must be for a young child, with sensory processing difficulties and social skill challenges, to go away from home even for a brief period of time.

From the young child’s perspective, he or she works very hard to transition from one environment to another in their everyday life. A child’s sensory challenges can result in picky eating, the need for absolute quiet in order to settle down to sleep, as well as the need for intense motor activities daily to feel comfortable. When you look at it from this perspective, it’s easy to see why a young child would react this way when given what seems like a wonderful opportunity to go to France. It felt frightening.

I have seen many clients in my career who reacted in a similar manner to the thought of a vacation; however, the good news is that there are tools you can use to help your child look forward to and enjoy time away from home. A vacation book (or story book) is just one tool you can use to give your child information and prepare them for what to expect on their trip. A vacation book is something you make with your child and then review with them in the weeks leading up to your trip. Here are a few things to keep in mind when making it:

1. Start with a calendar page which will show, with pictures or words, how long you will be gone. You can use a weekly or monthly calendar with pictures of your house for the days leading up to your trip. For the days that you will be traveling, you can add a picture of a car, plane or train. Always include a picture of where you will be sleeping, the hotel, Grandparents house, tent or cabin.

2. Include actual images if you have them. Pictures of relatives you will visit, “special” items such as blankets or stuffed animals that you will pack. You can also download pictures from the internet of the airline, the hotel or resort, the tourist attractions that you will visit to add to the book. The more familiarity for your child, the better.

3. Provide your child with information based on what is meaningful to them. Six hours may not mean too much when talking about a car ride, but two movies, lunch, and five books may resonate better with their concepts of time.

4. A page dedicated to events that may be novel or challenging for your child can assist as well. For example, navigating the sequence at the airport such as checking in, security and boarding the plane will be helpful as this experience can be overwhelming for experienced travelers. In addition, prepare your child for unexpected events such as long lines or delayed flights. A page dedicated to the rules and expectations on the plane, in a restaurant, Grandma’s house, etc. can also be helpful.

5. For many children having a plan or “exit strategy” when they feel stressed is very important and outlining that your child will have those same options while away is even more essential. For instance, use pictures or words to list strategies that will help them such as sitting and reading on a pile of pillows in the corner of the room, using headphones to listen to music, blowing bubbles and drinking a cool drink through a fun straw. Whatever your child finds relaxing can be listed.

In my years of experience, I have seen families use the vacation book as a simple, yet effective tool in helping the entire family enjoy that trip to Paris, or Wisconsin, wherever your travels will lead. Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley therapists can help too! Please call 630.620.4433 for details or to schedule an appointment.

7 Ways to Facilitate Language on the Playground

04_Emma and Evan

By Jennifer Tripoli

It’s almost summer and the playground is a setting where there are many of opportunities for speech and language development. Language learning should occur not just during structured tasks, such as at a table or inside a therapy room, but within activities of daily living for a child! The best learning often occurs during multi-sensory activities and free play activities. Take advantage of the nice weather — get outside and play!

1. Power of choice!
a. Give your child choices or have them tell you what they would like to do. Choice making is key for communication as it gives the child some control, helps with decision-making, and can teach specific vocabulary. It also helps with language development as the child hears the model and can imitate more easily. Each time you give your child a choice, you are offering an opportunity to communicate.

b. There are many activities for children on a playground such as sliding, swinging, climbing, etc. Have your child tell you what they want to do. For example, “Do you want to slide or swing?” “Swing.”

c. Model choices at your child’s language level or one step above. For example, if your child is not yet using words to make a request, you can model “swing or slide” to promote single word utterances. If your child is working on using two-word phrases, you can model “more swing or all done swing” in order to push the child to the next language level.

2. Do something!
a. A playground is the perfect spot to teach verb vocabulary or action words. As we know, children should have a variety of different word types in their beginning vocabulary (not just nouns!). What better to place to teach verbs than at the park? At the park you can model verbs and actually do the actions! Verbs that can be targeted at the park include: swing, play, slide, climb, jump, spin (merry-go-round), run, hop (across the bridge), ride, walk, sit, go, yell, hang, stop, etc. Have your child tell you what they are doing!

b. You can also make this a receptive language activity (language understanding). As the child does a specific activity, model the correct verb or ask your child to do the action you say.

3. Learn new words!
a. We can teach a variety of different concepts while playing at the park! This is a great opportunity to teach different or more advanced concepts as well as specifically descriptive concepts such as colors, shapes, textures, quantity, etc. Concepts that can be used at a park: colors (What color slide should we go down?), high/low (swing), bumpy/smooth (different slides), long/short (slide), slow/fast (merry-go-round), across (bridge or monkey bars), under (bridge), up/down (climbing), straight/curvy (slide), big/little (swings/slides)

4. Listen and Learn!
a. Incorporate concepts and direction-following skills. Have your child do what you say, e.g. “Go down the blue bumpy slide” or “First touch the merry-go-round and then go to the swing.” You can make these directions more complex by adding multiple concepts or steps. Listening skills are often difficult for a child to work on, but the park can make this fun!

5. What Do You See?
a. Many times children’s first language functions are for requesting their wants and needs. It is important for children to produce comments as well. The park gives a child a lot to comment/talk about! You can model language for your child such as “I see a bird up in the sky” or “I see kids swinging.” Facilitate comments by asking your child to say what they see.

6. Ready, Set, Go!
a. For young children who are just beginning to use words, the park is a great place to practice “anticipatory sets.” What are “anticipatory sets?” Anticipatory sets are repetitive phrases that your child can anticipate or predict what comes next. For example, “ready, set, go” is a motivating, automatic speech task that can get kids talking! “Go” is a very powerful word, especially when followed by something very exciting or motivating. For example, at the park you may have your child on the swing. You would stop the swing and tell your child “Ready, set….” and wait for your child to say “go” or even vocalize an approximation of “oooo”. After many repetitions and waiting on your end, you will be surprised how quickly “go” will be added to your child’s vocabulary.

b. The key here is waiting. Give your child a chance to respond. If they don’t respond, continue to model “go”. Keep practicing and consistency will come!

7. Let’s Socialize!
a. Does your child have difficulty interacting with other children? Playgrounds are a place to work on social skills with other children who are playing.
b. Have your child practice greeting other children or asking questions/initiating conversations (e.g. “Do you want to play?” or “What’s your name?”)

Want to learn more ideas for ways to facilitate speech and language? Visit our Pintrest page below or visit!

Jenn Tripoli

Jennifer Tripoli, M.S., CCC-SLP is a licensed and ASHA certified Speech Language Pathologist who enjoys working with the pediatric population. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Speech Language Pathology from Marquette University in 2008 and her Masters of Science degree in Speech Language Pathology at Rush University Medical Center in 2010. Jenn has been working with the pediatric population at Easter Seals DuPage since 2010 where she has learned to work with children with a variety of different diagnoses. Areas of interest include: Childhood Apraxia of Speech, expressive language delays, language processing, articulation/phonological disorders, orofacial myofunctional disorders, sensory based feeding, Autism, and use of technology (ipad applications) within therapy sessions. Jenn’s continuing education experience include training in: Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), Sequential Oral Sensory Approach (SOS), the Overland SensoriMotor approach to feeding, auditory processing, executive dysfunction, respiration, and use of Ipad Applications within therapy sessions. Jenn has her Early Intervention credential for treating children birth to 3 years of age and is a part of the Speech and Language Evaluation team at Easter Seals DuPage.

2 Free, Fun Outdoor Activities for Kids

Digging Dirt Free stock Photo

By Mandy Glasener

Welcome to the first ever blog post by the Lily Garden Child Care Center staff. How exciting that we get to share with you all our combined wisdom and ideas for fun activities at home!

For our topic this month we thought it would be appropriate to talk about getting back to nature. Summer is a wonderful time to get outside, explore and learn all about the great big world around you.

Let’s keep it simple and free. Here is what you need:


Find a nice cozy spot and start digging in the dirt with your sticks or fingers. It’s a sensory EXPLOSION! Smell the earth? Feel the dirt…Is it wet, dry, cold? What color is it?

If you’re lucky you may stumble across a worm, roly poly, grub or ladybug! Talk about if it’s a nice bug or a grumpy bug (one that bites or stings). Help your child to feel comfortable in the great big outdoors!

By you holding a bug and helping your child to hold a bug as well, their confidence will build and the trusting bond you share will deepen.

If bugs aren’t your thing, here’s another fun “back to nature” activity that is once again free and has tons of teaching and fine motor building potential!

We call it “helicopter salad” (for the squirrels, not people, yuck!). Here’s what you need:

*helicopters (those little twirly seeds that fall from maple trees)

Get a couple nice big handfuls of helicopters and start peeling! Once you remove the outer layer and expose the shiny green seed, start piling them up.

Early math skills are easy to incorporate. Which seed is bigger/smaller? How many should we peel? Tell the child that you would like to peel 10 seeds and then have them help you count.

This is also an excellent fine motor building activity. Of course both of these activities are easily adjusted for any child!

Feedback is welcomed! Please share your ideas and the adventures you have outside with your children in our comment section!

Looking for an amazing child care center? Check out the Lily Garden Child Care Center at Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley. The Lily Garden provides full-time and part-time, year round child care to children of all abilities. We serve children, six weeks through six years of age, in a nurturing environment where they can learn and grow together. The Lily Garden is located in our Villa Park Center. For details, please email