Monthly Archives: January 2015

Expectant and New Parent’s Guide to Registering for a Baby

Maggie_1

By: Bridget Hobbs, PT, DPT

As new parents ourselves, my husband and I spent four hours on a beautiful Saturday this past summer at a popular baby store in order to register for our bundle of joy that was arriving shortly.  Even though we went in with a list of items that our new-parent friends had recommended, I have to admit, the process was overwhelming!  Between items stacked floor to ceiling and deciding on one of 20+ different kinds of car seats, we had to take a 10 minute ‘halftime’ two hours into our adventure and relax on those comfy $900 gliders. Overall, having a good idea of what is going to help your baby and what could be detrimental to your baby’s development is going to make the process a bit easier.  Here is a parent’s guide of dos and don’ts for registering for a new baby based on my experience in child development as a pediatric physical therapist:

Do: Invest in a good playpen/encompassing safety gate.  This way, you can make dinner or fold laundry with your child safely playing within your line of sight.  Your child will be able to roll, pull up, crawl and improve his gross motor abilities and not get into things such as the flowers on the coffee table or your husband’s important work files in his briefcase.
Additional bonus: if you have a dog in your house, this is a good way to keep them interacting and in the same room without the worry that your favorite four-legged friend will accidentally knock-over your two-legged child.

Don’t: Buy everything on the market that “contains” your baby.  This includes: bouncers, swings, jumpers, exersaucers, and bumbo chairs.   All of these products should be used in moderation, if at all.  When these “container” products are used excessively, babies are at risk for torticollis (tightness on one side of the neck) and plagiocephaly (flat head).  In order to avoid possible physical therapy and costly head-shaping helmets, make sure your child gets plenty of tummy time.  A good playmat or a boppy pillow can help your child enjoy tummy time.  For more information on this topic, you can reference my June blog entry: The Container Baby

Do: Get toys for your children that are old-school.  Think blocks, balls, books, musical instruments (remember your little four-key piano?), magnet letters, and shape sorters.  These types of toys are great sensory experiences, and will help your child learn the concepts of: putting in/taking out, cause-effect, hand-eye coordination and recognizing and producing different tones for speech production.
Additional bonus: your parents may have saved these toys from your childhood (as I learned recently as my Mom showed me a whole closet of bins of age-labeled toys that she pulled out the other week).  These types of toys are also easily found at garage sales for super-cheap.

Don’t: Go too techy for your baby.  I was floored to see an ipad holder that was marketed toward an infant.  As a general rule, avoid anything that has the word ‘tech’ in it as a toy for your baby.  The American Academy of Pediatrics states that television and other entertainment media should be avoided for infants and children under the age of 2, and for children and teens limited to no more then 1-2 hours per day.  Starting children on tablets and electronics too early and not in moderation can be a slippery slope that can lead to increased rates of attention-deficit disorder, obesity and risky behaviors.  For additional information on this topic, please read my previous blog: Why Reading Real Books as Opposed to E-books is Beneficial for Your Child

As I recently learned, registering for a baby can be a really fun process (honestly, who doesn’t like using the scanner-gun?) but can also be quite overwhelming.  Try not to be suckered into every high-tech piece of baby equipment out there, because chances are, you and your baby won’t need it.  Instead, remembering what you grew up with (Legos, books and play-pens, oh my!) can lead to a better reality of what will help your child develop.

For more information about Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley please visit EasterSealsDFVR.org.

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Winter on Wheels: 10 Tips for Keeping Warm in a Wheelchair

lola
Fun hats help too!

Guest Blogger: Sharon Pike, Parent Liaison

I don’t think any of us enjoyed the recent burst of arctic temperatures.  Having a child in a wheelchair makes it all that more difficult to keep them warm and comfortable – and comfort is the key!

Here are a few ideas and resources to help you survive what is left of this winter.

  1. Dress in layers.
  2. Stay hydrated.
    When you become dehydrated cold sets in more quickly, so encourage your kiddo to drink a bit more.
  3. Avoid bulky coats.
    This is really important if your child sits in a car seat because bulky coats keep the straps from fitting correctly. Try thinner layers, blankets, or car seat covers that don’t go between the child and their seat.
  4. Adapt your child’s coat.
    Make a vertical slit up the back of the coat so you can  slip it on from the front and tuck it in around them.  Depending on the coat you may want to take it to the tailor so they can finish the cut side and keep it from unraveling.
  5. Try a poncho.
    Look into buying a poncho that can be thrown right over the chair.  You could also enlist a friend with sewing skills or try out this no-sew version that could be enlarged to cover a wheelchair.

    P1170012
    No-Sew Fleece Poncho
  6. Keep your cell phone charged or have a car charger.
    You don’t want to be caught in severe weather with a dead phone.
  7. Keep your gas tank full!
    My dad used to say, “’E’ doesn’t mean enough!”
  8. Create a winter survival kit for your car.
    Include water, non-perishable food and extra blankets!
  9. Keep their legs covered with a blanket.
    The fleece ones work well or you could use a Snuggie.
  10. Stock up on hand and toe warmers.
    These are great when mittens and boots are too much of a struggle.  Just be careful that they don’t get too warm for your child to tolerate.

Here are a few links some parents have found helpful.

Adaptations by Adrian
Adaptive clothing for wheelchair users and person with physical disabilities which make dressing difficult.

Koolway Sports
Helping to maintain the quality of living for people in motion

 

8 Tips for Teaching Your Child to Clean Up

Kevin
Click here to learn more about Kevin.

By: Jessica Drake-Simmons, M.S. CCC-SLP, Speech-Language Pathologist

“We have 1 more minute to play and then it will be time to clean up.”  I know what is about to happen and it won’t be pretty.  My shoulders tense.  The minute is up.  It’s time to break the news to my favorite little friend who is joyfully playing with his very favorite toy.  “NOOOOOO!!!!!!”  he screams as he collapses to the floor clinging to his dump truck  with all of his strength.

Does this sound familiar to you, or is it just me?  If it is this stressful, is it even important for my little darling to clean up his toys?   How can I prevent disaster from striking the many times a day that my little human tornado is expected to clean up?

First of all, teaching your children to clean up their toys is important.  It is key in preparing them to be independent, responsible and organized individuals. Teaching your child to clean up may be the more difficult choice for this moment in time because it won’t always be easy and it may not look pretty.  But, in the future, having a child who is able to independently care for their belongings will take the responsibility off of you and provide you with extra time in your day.  That sounds good, right?  So keep reading!

I am sure there are one or two twinkly eyed kids out there who gleefully and obediently do what they are asked to without a problem.  I haven’t met them yet.  So for those kids who have on opinion about how they would like their world to run, here are some strategies to make this learning opportunity successful for your little human tornado:

  1. Provide a warning. Let your child know that it is nearing the time to be finished playing with his toys.  This could be done by letting them know there is a certain amount of play time remaining:  (e.g., “You have 2 more minutes to play and then it will be time to clean up.”)  For some kids, using a visual timer can be helpful.  An alternate warning could be letting them know how many more times they can participate in an activity before its time to clean up (e.g., “Two more races and then we will put the cars away.  This is our last race and then we will clean up.”
  2. Provide a choice. We all like to make choices in our lives and children are no different.  However, it is important to remember that cleaning up is not a choice but there can be some choices in how they participate.  (e.g., “Do you want to put the blocks or the cars away?” “Do you want me to help or do it by yourself?”)
  3. Provide a reward. Some kids are very resistant to cleaning up.  Participating in this task is very challenging for them.  For other kids, this is an easy task.  A reward can range from something big like a favorite snack to simple verbal praise like, “Great job!  You are the best car picker-upper I know!”
  4. Help facilitate success. Meet your child where his abilities are and then gradually increase the demand.  Maybe a good place to start is having him put his shirt in the laundry basket, bringing his plate to the sink or throwing out his tissue.  Or, maybe the car box needs to be held right in front of him and he is only required to put 1, 2 or 3 cars away.  Maybe you need to hold his hand and help him release the car into the box.  That’s okay!  That’s a great place to start!  Repeated experiences of success produce long term learning, so help your kids succeed as regularly as possible!
  5. Be consistent. Every time they play, they are expected to participate in cleaning up to the best of their ability.
  6. Help them figure out a plan. A child may not know exactly what you mean when you say “clean up your room”.  Or, they may feel overwhelmed and have difficulty initiating and organizing a plan. Take a picture of the room when it is clean to show them what it should look like.  Apps like Skitch and Doodle Buddy can be used to have your child draw on the picture and generate a plan.  Help your child make a re-usable checklist with the steps needed to clean the area.  There are many great apps for this.  Or, an alternative low-tech option would be to laminate a list and use a wet-erase marker to cross off completed tasks.
    Jessica Drake-SimmonsFamily Room
  7. Provide a place for everything. You can help your child control the chaos by making sure there’s a designated storage area where containers for toys, school supplies and belongings can be kept.  Labeling these containers, folders or designated shelf spaces with written words or pictures for non-readers can help your child independently stay organized.
    Supplies ShelvesBins
  8. Make it FUN!! Songs and games can  turn the grueling task into part of the fun of playing!

Songs:

  • Sing a simple repetitive song which repeats the direction “blocks away, blocks away, time to put the blocks away”
  • Play a favorite song and have your child race to get everything put away before the song is over.
  • Barney sings a tried and true tune that young kids love to sing during clean up time: 

Races:

  • Race your child to see who can finish their portion of cleaning up first
  • Set a sand timer, kitchen timer or play a song to challenge your child to complete the task before the time is up
  • See who can be the first one to pick up 10 items
  • Count how many seconds or minutes it takes your child to finish the task

Did you know that cleaning up can be the perfect opportunity to address speech and language goals!?

Teaching your child to clean up instills responsibility and respect for their belongings.  As a speech-language pathologist, there are so many additional skills that I am even more focused on when it comes to cleaning up.  Teaching these skills while putting toys away is much more purposeful and meaningful than learning it off of a flashcard.  So many cognitive and language skills can be targeted during the functional activity of cleaning up including: matching, identifying vocabulary, labeling vocabulary, following directions, categorization, prepositions (in, on, under, next to, behind, above, top, middle, bottom) and descriptive concepts (colors, sizes).  Cleaning up is also the perfect opportunity to facilitate the development of executive functioning skills such as: sequencing steps, task planning, increasing attention span and executing self-control.

Check out which chores are age appropriate for your kids at The Happy Housewife.