Thanksgiving Ideas

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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!!

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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.

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How to help your baby love tummy time

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Does 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.

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Cerebral Palsy and D-Day

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Hello 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.

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Does my child need therapy?

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If you are asking this question, you probably need a professional to tell you the answer. Most of the time, go with your gut. Have your child evaluated by a pediatric PT.

Therapy is much easier when it is done sooner. A child left with any type of muscle imbalance or movement problem for a long time will end up with a list of problems later. Scooting to crawl is not cute, a “good baby” who never cries or tries to move is not normal, I could go on and on and on…So many times I hear the woes from parents who thought that their baby would just “grow out of it”. Your child will likely increase his or her skills but the way in which your child performs a skill can greatly affect his or her entire life, including cognitive development and later test scores. I don’t have the research pulled here to reference; but this has been well documented.

Don’t wait until that crack in the dam is a raging flood…seek help now to give your child the best chance that you can.

Click HERE for available books for more ideas.

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Side-lying play for your baby

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Late last night I received a frantic email from a lady in California. She was very concerned about her baby not staying in side-lying position and he has developed a flat head. She was at a loss about how to work with him.  I immediately sent her to my tummy time page and told her to check in tonight as I will post a large section on  side lying and soon will post on torticollis (wry neck) and head flattening (many fancy names but the sort common type that you may hear is plagiocephaly). As always, don’t despair as you are not alone!! These are common problems that I hope to clarify in a simple and easy to follow post. See my Side-Lying page here.

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

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What kind of shoes do you recommend?

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Shoes or No Shoes?

I often get asked about what shoes I would recommend for a child and when to start wearing shoes. This is a tricky question. With absolutely no foot abnormalities or tone problems, there are two schools of thought.

The Barefoot Crowd:

Most physical therapists would probably agree to allow a child to stay barefoot until he or she is walking well and it is time to venture outside.

The Shoe Crowd:

Others will argue the need for adequate support to the foot and ankle to help a child attain walking skills. Both would be right. There is a need for both.

I feel that a child staying barefoot inside is the better way to approach this; but it is not always possible to do so. Besides the sensory feedback and advantage of having the small muscles in the feet to get stronger from having to adjust to maintain an upright posture, there is the added benefit of the balance receptors in the feet having direct contact with the ground in order to develop well. All of this is kind of complex and I know you just want an answer. Here are some indoor shoes and first shoes that I do like. If your child attends daycare, for example, he or she may be required to wear shoes. This is another matter altogether. Make sure you purchase a flexible shoe, preferably with some slip resistant sole. There are many types as you see below. There are many conditions that require braces and therefore shoes at an early age. The shoes for this will be addressed later.

Click on the links for each type to see what is available:

1.) Robeez Shoes

2.) Skidders Slipper Shoes

3.) Pediped Shoes

4.) Umi

5.) Stride Rite Prewalkers

6.) Preschoolians

7.) IsaBooties

8.) Jack and Lily

9.) Nike Flyease 

Once your baby is up and walking, you will want to get something more supportive and make sure it is protective as well. It is tempting to get the matching shoes to an outfit or place the cute sandals on your child. It is fine to do this for pictures, etc; but the real goal is to get your child walking. If this is your true desire, then you need to help him or her the best that you can by providing adequate support and protection.

There is no need to spend a fortune to do this.

Most of the above brands and many others provide such options.

 

 

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Leg braces: does my child need these?

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First, let me say that I probably get 50 % of my emails about this and about foot/leg positions of children in general. I am so glad that you are watching and observing your child. Please be patient as your baby learns to stand and walk, as this usually develops over time with a LOT of changes going on in his or her feet and legs. See my page on toeing in and out for some more information.

The good news is that your child will most likely grow out of whatever you are concerned about but you should always as your pediatrician about any suspected problems to get their expertise. Many problems need to be caught early in order to correct for the best results and if your mommy senses are “tingling” that something isn’t right, I would recommend a professional to evaluate your child. Most pediatricians know when to send you to a therapist. If you are not satisfied, please ask again until you get the information you need.

You are always going to be your child’s best advocate!

For information on books that are available, click HERE

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Discharge from Physical Therapy

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Discharge Day

The smell of flowers blooming filled the air, as I walked to my car. I knew the day that I walked into their home for the first time that this day would come; but that doesn’t make it any easier. For the next several minutes, tears roll down my cheeks, as I try to pull myself together before I reach my next home. That family  needs me too.

The child I just discharged was dear to my heart. I have been going to that house for over two years…laughed with them…cried with them…rejoiced with them. I am a pediatric PT and I work in the early intervention system, where I see the patients in their own homes. They all work their way into my heart and then the rules say that at age three…it all ends.

I feel great about what we have accomplished together. Every milestone was celebrated and enjoyed to the fullest; but the child still needs so much more and I am no longer the one who will be there to help her learn. Thank goodness for the wonderful clinics that I have referred them to; but I don’t want to stop.

There are so many joys in this job; but the sorrows are there too.

As I arrived at the next house, I saw a small child peering out the front door, watching for me–it’s my next patient. The smile on her face makes the sorrow in my heart dim just a little…

Thank goodness I am still needed!

For activities and ways to play with your child, click HERE

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My baby won’t hold on to me

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Hey everyone,

I have been receiving multiple requests to address this problem. If you sense your baby is not “holding” you with his or her legs and arms, I strongly suggest that you have your baby evaluated by a pediatric physical therapist. This is generally a sign that your child is over using extension in his or her movement patterns. Other signs for this:

–arms stay pulled back and high, even in sitting

–unable to roll or “flips” to roll

–not grabbing feet after about 5 months old

–when on tummy, looks like he or she is “swimming” on tummy with arms and legs held up

This is a partial list. Please send me an email and we can talk further. Generally, this needs to be addressed by someone who can teach you how to hold and carry your baby. For now, try these things:

–carry your baby in a “ball” by curling feet toward hands

–place baby on his or her back and bring feet toward their hands to play peek a boo between his or her feet

–place your child in side lying to play (even if older). This will help bring arms together more.

These are just a few tips. More can be found under the gross motor activity pages for rolling, tummy time, and sitting games.

For more ideas on ways to play with your child, click HERE for available books.

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