5 Simple Ways to Help Your Baby Love Tummy Time

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Your baby needs time every day on his/her tummy to develop good muscle balance and strength. Although it is recommended that your child sleep on his/her back, it is important that you take time during the waking hours and place your child on his/her belly. If you are having trouble getting your baby to tolerate this position, here are some simple ways to help your baby love tummy time.

Did you know that you can actually reduce your baby’s risk for SIDS  by helping your baby strengthen neck muscles to be able to move his or her head? This helps your baby move away from items that can smother him or her.

The following is a simple list of ways to help your baby love tummy time:

1.) Tummy time can be as little as 5 seconds!

If your child gets irritated after a few seconds, give him/her a short break and then do it again. It’s okay to do small amounts at a time as he/she gets used to this position.

2.) Help your child keep his/her arms tucked underneath and palms facing down

3.) Don’t do tummy time right after eating—this can cause more spit-up and discomfort.

4.) If your baby has a G-button or a hernia, tummy time is still okay in most instances. Check with your pediatrician to make sure.

5.) Watch for signs of distress and change your child’s position.

Ways to accomplish Tummy Time:

1. Place a childproof mirror or brightly colored book/toy in front

2. Place your child on his/her tummy facing you on your chest while you sit in a reclined position. This will make it easier for him/her to lift his/her head and your baby will love looking at you!

3. Lie on the ground facing your baby and talk/play.

4. Lay your baby across your lap with a book or toy beside you to motivate him/her to lift his/her head.

Note:

–Avoid placing objects too high because this will cause your baby to lift his/her head too much and overextend.

–Also, if your baby has a slight head tilt (torticollis) make sure you put all objects straight in front for now. Talk to your physical therapist about this and make sure they teach you how to progress this, etc.

5. If your baby has some head control, sit your baby up and have him/her lean forward onto your hands or place his/her hands on a pillow. Allowing her to put weight through his/her arms is similar to the pushing up on his/her belly.

There are many more ways to accomplish improving the strength needed for your child to enjoy tummy time more. There are some medical issues that can cause problems with tolerance to tummy time as well. One of these is reflux.

ALWAYS STAY WITH YOUR CHILD when they are on their tummy.

Check out more ideas and games in my available books HERE

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

7 Fast Ways to Get Your Baby To Crawl Now

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Is it okay form my child to skip crawling?

Your baby needs to crawl in all fours the traditional way for many reasons. That being said,  many babies do not do this and seemingly turn out fine. A few of these babies have some imbalances that may not be noticed while others may turn out okay. If at all possible, your baby needs to be in all fours. You can encourage this in several ways.

1.) Try placing her in a modified all fours position by having her kneel at a large pillow or couch cushion.

2.) Lay on the floor on your back and let your child pull up on you. Help her, if needed. She might just want to pull up to her knees and that is wonderful!

3.) Lay your baby on her back and bring her knees to her chest. Gently bicycle her legs and sing a simple song as you do this. Even patterning the movement like this will help kickstart the process!

4.) Put your baby on her belly and help her bring one leg up on one side to play. As she does this, she may be able to lift the arm on the same side to reach and that is great. You are helping her learn how to shift her weight. Now repeat on the other side. She may push off and go forward, which is a wonderful game–see the next item!

5.) On her belly, bring the leg up like you were doing in #4. Gently help her push forward by helping her at the foot and her bottom. Now do the other side. Be careful to help her keep from falling forward onto her face.

6.) Place your baby on her belly on a soft surface. Use a thin blanket under your baby’s arms and gently lift up to cradle her in the air slightly. Help her tuck her legs underneath to assume all fours position. Gently rock her side to side. If she loves this, help her move forward.

7.) Place your baby in all fours if she will let you.  Keep your hand under her chest and her legs tucked underneath. Help her rock side to side and back and forth.

There are many more ideas but these will get you started!

If your baby is army crawling, she is on her way! Encourage your baby to crawl over your leg with assistance. If your baby is a scooter, this will work as well to help her stay in all fours longer. Make sure to help her by supporting her chest and keep her from collapsing as she goes over your leg.  There are many other strategies that can be used. Email me if you want more information on this.

For available books on how to play with your child, click HERE

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Ford’s new windows help the visually impaired see

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Have you seen this? Ford has developed new windows to help the visually impaired see!

In a world of obstacles, it’s nice to see companies beginning to create more accessibility. Target has a whole new sensory line of toys, weighted blankets are showing up everywhere, and now these windows that give the visually impaired a chance to “feel the view” through a new application of technology.

The smart window takes pictures of the passing landscape and converts these into monochromatic images and displays them on the glass. A passenger can touch the different areas on the glass and receive vibrations in a large number of intensities to help them “see” the landscape.

As a therapist who works with many visually impaired children, it’s nice to see a company like Ford taking a step toward reducing some of the obstacles in their life. As a mother of two children with vision problems, I’m always interested in technology that is addressing some of the difficulties of any type of visual difficulty. Some of the self-driving features that have begun to evolve may lend even more freedom to those experiencing some limitations by visual impairments.

Click HERE to read the entire article.

Don’t let your time with your baby go to waste! There are many ways to play and create memories while helping your child reach his or her full potential with gross motor development.

Click HERE available books on how to play with your child to play with a purpose!

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Playing with your baby to improve development

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailYou have read all the baby books, talked to other mothers, and scoured the internet. How many times do you do this and then sit down, exhausted at the end of the day and realize that you didn’t have time to do any of it?

Let’s rethink it all.

First, you can use every time you interact with your baby, whether you are carrying her, feeding her, bathing her, etc, to help her achieve her best. It doesn’t matter if you have all day with your baby or snippets of time around the family schedule and work, you have the ability to give her things she needs through simple interactions.

As a pediatric physical therapist, I spend much of my day helping parents understand this simple principle: Every single thing you and your baby do together is a valuable learning experience. Thinking purely from a gross motor perspective, I can spout off something for every interaction to address a skill your baby needs. I can also give you suggestions for the other areas of development.

Let’s look at an example:

Head control: this is a very valuable skill that a baby needs in order to advance through to all the stages and finally walk. The following examples are ways to work on this during the day.

Morning: You pick up your baby in a diagonal pattern by rolling her up on her elbow and into sitting and finally pick her up. By doing this, you are helping her learn to pick her head up and reduce any head lag (head “lags” behind if you pull her to sit). As she starts to participate with this, you can bring her more in a straight pattern to sit (always supporting from behind her shoulders). I usually continue the diagonal pattern because it “patterns” the idea of getting into sitting.

Carrying her to changing table: Place her up on your shoulder to help her use her neck muscles more. If she is wobbly with this, give a little support with your other hand.

Changing table: Keep a little rattle up here and move it from side to side to have her follow with her eyes and hopefully her head. This works her neck muscles too. Go ahead and change that diaper too!

Carrying her to a chair to feed her: Again, hold her high on your shoulder and make her work a little harder.

Feeding: Make sure she is not arching too much and is able to relax. If she is arching a lot, tell the doctor and your therapist, if you have one. This may be a sign of some things that may need to be checked.

Carrying to her car seat: If you are getting ready to leave for daycare, carry her high on your shoulder again to allow that head to keep working.

OR

Carrying to have some floor time: If you are staying home for now, place her on the floor to play. Give her a few seconds or longer (if she tolerates) in some tummy time (remember this may be better with an empty stomach if she spits up a lot). If she spits up a lot, place her in sitting on your lap or between your legs in the “mommy chair” to allow her to work on sitting up. If you need to get some things done and need to keep her safe or more upright, place her in a bouncy seat with toys in front for her to watch and bat at with her hands.

Do you get the idea?

You have basically taken your baby out of bed, changed her diaper, and fed her. At this point, you have given her many ways to improve her head control with just these simple interactions.

A pediatric PT will be able to guide you through many other ideas on ways to simple carry and care for your child using positioning and simple changes to things you are already doing. With these ideas, you will be giving your baby much needed exercise throughout the day. A speech or occupational therapist can expand the above ideas to include singing and talking to your child or placing toys in her hands to improve her speech and cognitive skills as well as improve her sensory exploration and arm/hand strength.

No small movement is unimportant in development. A baby moves to improve movement in order to move. Every kick, reach, grasp, and babble means something important to her development.

Click HERE for available books for more ideas.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

When will my child walk?

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailWhew! I get this question literally every day in my practice. It is a HUGE concern from parents with a child with developmental delay as well as most parents in general.

Well, let me say that there is absolutely no way that anyone can predict this, however, there are stages and general developmental skills that usually have to be in place.

Not every child has to crawl in order to walk, but I highly recommend that you seek help from a therapist if your child tries to skip this phase or if they only crawl for a few days. Once your child begins to crawl, encourage this and notice that he/she will quickly be pulling to stand.

Once in standing, your child has to develop balance and strength as well as confidence to take a first step.

NEVER back up as your child walks to you. They will be less likely to trust you again if they feel scared during those first trials. 

Look through the Gross Motor pages on my site for ideas on how to accomplish the steps to attain walking. Here is the general order:

Side-lying

Tummy Time

Rolling

Sitting

Crawling

Standing

Walking

There are MANY things in between (like the transition skills), but the general idea is that your child needs to accomplish each skill in order when possible. Trust your therapist to guide you and teach you ways to play to encourage each skill. We generally work on several skills in tandem, so don’t be surprised if we are working on rolling while we address standing. When we see a weak area, we will go back down the skill list to a skill we need to use to build the muscles for upper skill development.

For ideas on ways to interact with your child, see available books HEREFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Tummy Time, Back To Sleep, and Container Babies

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailAs a pediatric physical therapist that works almost exclusively in the 0 to 3-year-old population, I see a lot of delay that has no underlying reason. Of course, delay is always something to be concerned about and should be monitored to see if there is an underlying reason, but I’m speaking to the undetermined undiagnosed delay today. I believe that much of this delay can be attributed to the Back To Sleep program. Although I do not wish to see this program discontinued because it is saving lives from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), I do feel that there needs to be some clarification and some emphasis given to parents.

Most people understand the importance of tummy time. The problem is, children are almost always on their backs. We put them on their back in a bouncy seat, a swing, a car seat, etc. We have a catch phrase for this: “Container Babies” because they are always in some kind of container. Besides all the container time, now we put them to sleep on their back. That is a majority of their day and night!

After all this time on their backs, many children will cry when placed on their tummies because they may not be able to lift their head or push up enough to feel comfortable. This makes most parents or daycare workers not willing to continue this position because the child is upset.

There are a lot of different ways to accomplish tummy time without directly placing a child on their tummy on the floor. See the posts under the Gross Motor Activities for creative tummy time play. By the way, did you know that the current recommendation for accumulative tummy time is one hour a day? Not all at once–accumulated throughout the entire day, but even still, I doubt most people understand this suggestion and how ot accomplish it. Tummy time skills need to be adhered to for a child to be able to progress through all the developmental skills. It should only be “skipped” or changed under the direction of a therapist and only for specific reasons. Without this position, a child will have difficulty learning to move and transition in and out of different positions, but the biggest problem besides the delay in movement and other skills is the flattening that can occur to the back of the head or to one side (which can lead to terrible neck positions as well). If this flattening continues, the child can have other severe problems, such as facial deformities, that are irreversible. If this is caught soon enough, though, therapy and a helmet can be used to help direct the shape of the head until the skull fuses.

There are different types of flattening that can occur and all can be caused by other things as well, but if your child is not moving well or only likes to lie on his or her back and/or you notice a flattened area on their head or a place where hair is rubbing off, get help! Contact a pediatric physical therapist and let them help you get back on track or you could be facing months of therapy.

And…get your sweet little one out of those “containers” as much as you can!

Click HERE for available books for your childFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Side-Lying Soapbox

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Side-lying Positioning

As a physical therapist with three decades of experience, I’ve seen an increase in the number of problems with development that might be avoided with more emphasis on positioning a baby in side lying.

This position is important for a myriad of reasons.

–First of all it helps shape the head and may avoid helmet use later.

–Second, this position gives your child a way to stabilize and look at a toy when placed between her hands.

–Another reason this position is wonderful is that it helps your child bring a toy into her visual field, even when she may have very little use of her arms.

–Maybe the child will pull the toy or rattle to her mouth to begin exploring, which is another wonderful activity and important for feeding and speech development.

–This position also brings your child’s hands together at midline. This is the magical place where good things happen in the brain. The two sides of the brain can begin to talk to each other and help your child understand the world much better as well as learn to use her hands together to accomplish a task.

NOTE:

If your child uses one arm more than the other (NEVER OKAY BEFORE AGE 4), you can position her with her favorite arm on the bottom and tucked in where she cannot “cheat” and allow her to use the less favorite arm that is on top.

Your child may resist this position, but she must be taught how to stay in this position and learn to play here, even if only for a short time period. Use a toy to bat at or reach for OR put a soft toy or rattle between her hands.

A few therapy tricks:

–Try side lying (always supervised) on a couch where you can tuck her into the soft cushions and sit beside her and talk to her so she can see your face. Never leave a child unattended like this. By using this position and alternating the sides that you let your child lay on, you will be able to help your child develop more effectively. By bringing her hips up slightly you can reduce some of the extensor thrusting that a lot of children have.**

—Roll your child from her back to her side gently. If she resists, you can try laying her on a blanket and helping her roll. She needs to feel safe and happy with this.

—Try 1/4 and 3/4 positioning. This is just like it sounds. You put a small towel roll under one side so that she is only about 1/4 way over OR you can take her almost to her belly but not all the way. Sometimes, a child will not resist this as much. Make sure her face is clear so she can breathe.

—Lay down beside her on the floor and gently roll her toward you. She might even reach for your face!

In Summary

These are only a few simple ideas, but the point is that side lying is VERY important and should be used until a child is smoothly rolling tummy to back to tummy. This is another position to use during the day besides putting her on her back.

**If your child thrusts a lot into extension, she really needs to be checked for this. It could indicate that she is just overusing extension patterns which can be broken with therapy or it could indicate some underlying stomach problems (such as silent or not so silent reflux and trying to stretch out to keep from burning). Just because she doesn’t spit up does not mean that she’s not refluxing.

Other reasons for this could be neurological and all of these things need to be checked and evaluated to make sure that she is going to develop correctly and that she doen’t have a medical problem that needs attention.

A pet peeve of mine is that abnormal movement is not cute. In fact, it can lead to major problems for that child later in life. When you see something that doesn’t look like other children, it needs to be evaluated and addressed. Abnormal movement in early development can be redirected and changed to normalize the movements, but as that pattern stays in place, the motor plan for that is more difficult to break and will be much more difficult for your child to ever learn to move normally. No matter how old the child is, if they have abnormal movement patterns, as a physical therapist, I would want to see them and help them.

Please click HERE for available books by this therapist.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Thanksgiving Ideas

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Thankful Tree

Materials needed:

Construction Paper

Tape

Picture of a tree

Every year when our kids were little, I would place a picture of a tree on the wall or sometimes I would make a larger laminated version. I would cut out simple “leaves” out of construction paper for every member of our family. Every day, we would each tell something we were thankful for to write on teh leaf and then p;ace that leaf on the tree. Many times, we wouldn’t start this until mid November due to busy schedules, etc. It is not too late to start!!

Screen Shot 2013-11-17 at 2.48.47 PM

Turkey Feather Toss

Materials needed:

Colorful feathers

Hat or bucket

Imagination!

Give each child a different color feather. Have them make up a move to do for their feather, like one child might want to march, another one may chose jump, etc.  Place the feathers in a hat or bucket and toss them into the air. Whoever has the feather that lands last, everyone must do their choice of activity. You can modify this to a race on the ground and have each child blow their feathers across the room to a finish line. Get creative and have fun with this.

For younger children and toddlers, use the feathers for dump and fill (like Easter Egg hunting) with the bucket. Remember that they may try to put this in their mouth, so don’t let them. Follow the recommendations on the label of the feathers you buy as to what is safe.

Turkey Shoot

Ok, when my kids were small, we lived in a warm area. We used the following:

Materials:

Water guns

Picture of a turkey

Sidewalk Chalk

I would tape up a picture of a turkey for each kiddo and use the chalk to draw a line to stand behind. We began by simply shooting at the turkey and this was way too easy. We made it harder by having each child stand on one leg, then shoot under a leg, shoot with eyes closed…you get the idea. Fun and silly!

Inside:

Materials needed:

Laundry basket

Picture of a turkey

Tape

Bean Bags

Here, you could do the same but shoot with bean bags and make the “Turkey” be a picture of a turkey on the inside of a laundry basket turned on its side. Have fun either way and get those kids moving!

Click HERE for available books.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

How to help your baby love tummy time

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailDoes your baby hate tummy time?

Well, you are not alone!!   It is very common to not enjoy this position.

First, if your baby cannot move out of this position or cannot lift his/her head, then this position is scary.

Also, this may make your baby spit up more. See my tummy time page for more details.

Your baby needs tummy time for muscle development as well as cognitive development. If you notice your baby “swimming” in this position, you need more help than just basic tummy time.  Some new materials are being developed for this and will be posted soon. Please feel free to email me with specific questions about this or any other related issue.

Don’t give up on this. It will get better and you will learn to love playing the games for this. Your baby will soon be rolling to his or her tummy on purpose!

Click HERE for available books for more ideas.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Cerebral Palsy and D-Day

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailHello all,

I get a LOT of questions about Cerebral Palsy (CP). Most people have an image in their mind about what a CP person is like. I will tell you that there is a WIDE variety of people with this diagnosis. The definition of CP on a simple level is brain damage that occurred either right before, during, or after birth. The cause of the damage can be from any source. So many parents go to the doctor and get this diagnosis and panic. Yes, there is a reason to be concerned; but please do not panic. Get involved with a good set of pediatric therapists who can help you and your child. The initial diagnosis day (I like to call is D-Day) is pretty scary and usually leads to a LOT of sleepless nights. No matter what diagnosis you get from your doctor, let a pediatric therapist guide you through the steps to helping your child with every step of development. I know that you are scared and maybe a little mad. I think you would have to be abnormal not to be a little of both. I think one of the greatest things you can do right now is to try and not google every little thing about CP; but start with working through where your child is now. For instance, did you know that you can now apply for a handicap sticker or tag for your car? Usually, you just go to the local DMV office and get the paperwork to do so. Also, you need to explore what other services are now available to you and your child. Your therapist may be able to help you with some of this or connect you to a social worker in the area who can connect you. There are many doors that open for your child with a CP diagnosis and I don’t want you to miss any of them. Social media sometimes helps as well. There are Facebook groups, etc that have very active and moms with a great understanding of where you are now and how to proceed to find these resources.

The actual treatment for CP will vary immensely, depending on your child’s functional level and abilities. I say ability instead of disability because you need to focus on what he or she can do and work from there. I really hope you have a great journey; but I will tell you that there will be obstacles. Keep digging for information and you will find it. I wish you the best. Please keep the emails coming and I will answer you individually with specific questions.

Click HERE for available books for more ideas and information.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail