Make Ice Cream in a Bag with Your Toddler!

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The following is a simple way to make ice cream in a ziplock bag with your toddler at home:

Things you will need:

Gallon zip lock bags

Sandwich zip lock bags

Half and Half

Sugar

Vanilla

Crushed Ice

Salt (rock salt is best if you have it)

In a mixing bowl, have your little ones help you put in

1Tbsp Sugar

½ cup half and half

¼ tsp vanilla

Mix this and pour into 1 ziplock sandwich bag

In the gallon bag, place 1/3 cup rock salt and 3 cups crushed ice and the sealed sandwich bag. Seal the large bag and play a game of toss with the bag. As you grab the bag, have the person holding it squish and squeeze it a few times. In about 10-15 minutes you will have soft homemade ice cream. If you are doing several at a time, each person can hold and squish their own and you don’t have to play toss with it—this will strengthen hand muscles as well. This game helps children use both hands equally as well.

Have fun making ice cream in a bag with your toddler–or all the kids in your home! This was a year-round favorite in our home!

For information on available books for more ideas, click HERE

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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!

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What Kind of Shoes Should I Buy???

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailFor me…. lets see….Just kidding.

I get this question so much. I actually received a text about this as I was pulling up to post a response. I will let the cat out of the bag: YOU DON’T NEED SPECIAL SHOES to help your child walk. Now, if you have some specific areas that need attention, this may not be the case. For the average child, no special shoes are needed. Please don’t spend a lot of time or money searching out the perfect pair. Here are some tips:

DO:

–Get your child sized and keep up with his/her growth by getting new shoes when needed

–Wear shoes outside to protect feet. Barefoot is ok but just remember that there are numerous things from insects (bees) to glass, etc that you may encounter outside.

–High tops do add support. You don’t have to get these, but even little girls look cute in boots!

–Make a trip to a local inexpensive shoe store!

–Do let your child go barefoot inside the house. This is important for sensory feedback as well as strengthening the foot muscles.

DON’T

–Spend money on expensive “supportive” shoes at these young ages. Toddlers’ feet are not supposed to have this unless they have a known problem.

–Buy the traditional “walking shoe” –it has a slick bottom and it is not really a great shoe for walking. Its only good attribute is the high top.

–Buy the cute flimsy shoe that matches the outfit oh-so-perfectly. Make sure it is a decent shoe and will not flip over or the foot slide off to easy.

Have fun with your new walking baby! It is not long before the leg hikes up and your toddler is on the move with climbing–this can happen within hours of the first steps!!!

Click HERE for available books for more ideas.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail