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Bedtime routine

Bedtime Routines

Bedtime routines are essential for getting the appropriate amount of sleep each night. Lack of sleep within children can disrupt the important cycles their bodies go through to help with development, attention and so much more. Creating a bedtime routine doesn’t have to be difficult, just utilize these tips and your child will be snoozing in no time.  

Consistency

Whichever tip you decide to implement, the most important is consistency. Providing a predictable bedtime routine that is consistent allows your child to understand the sequence of events that lead up to the point of going to sleep. Utilizing verbal reminders, prompts or a visual schedule of the tasks that need to be completed before bed, help with active engagement as well as relieving anxiety. 

 

Calm Down Time

Relaxation is an important step in falling asleep. Provide a time before bed where your child is away from alerting stimuli like a TV, iPad, or phone screen. Reading books, picking up toys, or listening to calming music is much more appropriate for a bedtime routine. 

 

Meditation

Meditation is a great way to clear the mind to decrease anxiety before going to sleep. Here are some examples to implement within your bedtime routine:

  • Deep breathing
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Guided imagery

 

Environmental Changes

Changes to your child’s sleep environment is an easy and great way to make your child comfortable enough to fall asleep and stay asleep.

  • Weighted blanket/compression sheets: Utilizing a weighted blanket or compression sheets can provide the proprioceptive input children crave as they sleep. This simple change can decrease anxiety and provide a calming effect to better facilitate a good night’s sleep. 
  • Light level: Utilize curtains to block out light. A dark room helps the body recognize that it is time to sleep.
  • White noise: Static noise can block out other sounds within the environment that may be disruptive.
  • Soothing Scents: Scents like lavender or other calming smells can help relax your child before bedtime. 

 

If your child has difficulty following a bedtime routine or has continued trouble falling asleep, please do not hesitate to contact the office at BDI Playhouse Children’s Therapy to receive a free occupational therapy screening

Written by Kiersten Robertson, MOT, OTR/L

Girl refusing tomato

Feeding Fiasco

For some families, meal time can be the most challenging part of the day. Parenting a child who is having difficulty with eating can be tough for the entire family! Some kids are picky for a short time, or avoid only a few specific foods, and some kids may outgrow a food challenge. Some children maintain a difficult relationship with food for an extended period of time, seem to be regressing in skill, or make meal time a complete disaster with no end in sight. 

The Battle Field

When the preparation of food, the presentation of food, and/or the act of coming to the table is just the beginning of the mealtime battle, getting your child to eat nutritious and delicious food can be tough. If you are having to frequently pull out your sword and shield in preparation for a mealtime battle, it’s time to seek help from feeding therapists!

Too Tiny

If your child’s eating is impacting their growth, or your child is requiring supplements for weight or growth, our therapists can assist in food expansion strategies to enhance your child’s food intake and overall well being. 

  • Flee the Scene

Some children are overwhelmed by specific foods or the mealtime experience and will run away. Others require parents to strap them in, bribe them, pull out the tablet, or chase them down just to get to the table. If your child is having trouble coming to or staying at the table, feeding therapists can help make food more approachable, assist in attention enhancement, and provide strategies to remain at the table for the entire meal!

  • Tantrum Time 

When your dinner is thrown on the floor, smeared on the table, or screamed about in protest, your little one is struggling with food. Anxiety and frustration look different on each child, and tantrums can be one of the many responses to complex feelings food may be causing. Your therapist can help determine what abilities your child is struggling with that make the meal so difficult, and assist in developing skills to engage in meals and manage big emotions throughout the eating process.

  • The Picky Eater

A child is defined as being a “picky eater” when their food intake/variety is limited, but they are able to eat 30 or more food items. This number includes being able to eat the same food item prepared in a variety of ways! A picky eater may avoid an entire food group, or limit foods to a specific consistency or flavor. A feeding therapist can help picky eaters develop a meaningful relationship with their food and help the number and types of food accepted increase.

  • The Problem Feeder

A “problem feeder” is a child that eats 20 foods or less. This child may be brand specific in the foods they tolerate, they may have eliminated entire food groups, or they may avoid all foods that are a specific color, texture or consistency. Problem feeders may have underlying difficulty with oral motor or sensory processing skills resulting in gagging/vomiting, choking, coughing, or drooling. Our therapists are trained to assist in assessing the areas of challenge and increase the types of foods a child is eating to improve their nutritional intake and overall health/wellness.

  • Social Skills Suffer

Eating is a social activity. Families and friends sit down to share a meal, go out to eat meals together, bond over coffee dates, celebrate milestones with food, and more! If a child is having difficulty remaining at the table or tolerating being around others eating food, a feeding therapist can step in before social skills and meaningful events are impacted!

If your child falls into any of the above categories, bring your worries to BDI Playhouse feeding therapists! Set up a free consultation to get more information, and put your worries to rest!

Potty Accidents

Potty Accidents

Why is my child having potty accidents?

Potty accidents aren’t fun for anyone. It can impact a child’s relationships with their family and friends.  Here are 5 common reasons children have accidents

Constipation 

Chronic constipation is the main cause of pee and poop accidents in children that have been potty trained. This is a great handout to see if your child has any of the main signs of constipation. Did you know that pooping every day doesn’t mean they aren’t constipated? “The Poo in You” is a video with a great explanation of what happens inside the body. 

Lack of Awareness 

Many kids may not have any idea that they have to go. They may not realize that they have to use the bathroom until it’s too late, or until they’ve already gone. Knowing what is happening inside the body can be a hard concept for kids with difficulty with sensory awareness. 

Poor Potty Posture 

Poor potty posture makes it hard to clear out the bladder and bowels. The Squatty Potty  or other step stool helps support the feet which lets the pelvic floor muscles relax. Therapists can also help with postural awareness and strength to help with the proper potty posture for successful toileting.

Scary Bathrooms

The bathroom can be a scary place for kids! Sitting with dangling feet, the noise, and the smell can all make kids avoid the potty. Many children avoid public bathrooms because of these fears. 

Medical Reasons

There could be a medical reason your child is having accidents. If you have concerns about your child’s accidents talk to your pediatrician. They can help decide if a referral to gastroenterology or urology is needed.

 

Who can help my child?

If you think your child might have constipation or is struggling with accidents, please reach out for a free screening! Sometimes, you may need the help of a physical, speech, or occupational therapist to help identify the reasons for your child’s accidents and/or constipation. 

Pediatric Therapists

Therapists trained in pediatric incontinence can provide treatment with:

    • Core strengthening
    • Biofeedback
    • Bladder re-training
    • Behavior and diet strategies
    • Body awareness to help realize the urge to go 
    • Posture training
    • Increasing fiber rich food intake 
    • Increasing variety of foods
Introducing foods to baby

Introducing Foods to Babies

Introducing foods to your baby is an exciting time!  You have your highchair and your pediatrician’s green light to introduce solids.  As you start out on this food filled adventure, here are a few ideas to keep in mind!   

Expression is Everything 

  • When you are introducing foods to your baby, make sure you share the same facial expression/excitement for each food, no matter how YOU feel about that food.  Your baby is extremely observant and will notice your dislike before it even hits his/her lips!  

 

Not for Nutrition 

  • Whether you choose to go the BLW or puree route, your purpose should be about exposure and experiences with food, not quantity or nutrition.  This is the time your baby is learning how to eat and experiencing new tastes and textures.  If, after a few bites, your baby indicates he/she doesn’t want anymore, let your baby be done!  You want your baby to ENJOY this experience so he/she will want to do it again and again!

 

Messy Mayhem

  • Put down the towel!  The messier your baby gets now, the less likely they will become overly sensitive to food spills (on his/her body or surroundings).  As your child’s feeding skills progress, the messes will naturally decrease!
  • Did you know that the sippy cup is the same oral motor pattern as drinking from a bottle/breast?  It was invented with the sole purpose of reducing spills.  When introducing the “next step” to an infant, we should be introducing the straw and open cup!   

If your baby is having difficulty transitioning to solids, BDI Playhouse Children’s Therapy offers free screenings to give you the tools to help your baby “eat” their way to a healthy toddlerhood.

Written by: Jessica Keenan, MA, CCC-SLP/L, CLC

Infant Massage

Infant Massage

Benefits of Infant Massage

Massage has benefits at any age, but for babies it can be extra helpful! The best time to massage your baby is when they are awake, but alert. It doesn’t have to last long to get these benefits. You don’t need much, a comfortable room, something soft to place baby on, and some oil (here are some suggestions to pick out what works for you)!

Improved development 

Massage can improve circulation, improve muscle tone, and provide increased awareness of a baby’s body parts. It’s also a great time to talk to your baby which will help their speech and language.

Improved sleep

Daily massage can help babies build tolerance to handling and different input. This can help them learn to calm and relax their bodies on their own which can help them The relaxation linked to massage can help baby fall asleep on their own. 

Improved digestion

Babies occasionally experience difficulties with pooping or have increased gas. There are specific massage techniques that can help move gas bubbles and poop along. 

Parent and child bonding

Massage is a great way for parents, caregivers, and grandparents to bond with their baby. Babies respond differently to different strokes. It’s a great way for parents to pick up on the babies cues. It’s also a great excuse to get some 1:1 quiet time with baby. What a great way to break up that witching hour!

Improved body awareness

Body awareness helps babies start interacting with their environment. They get input when they recieve massage. This can help improve their awareness of where their body is in their environment. If your baby has a preference for using one side more than the other it can be a great way to help them be more aware of the side they don’t use as much

 

If you would like to learn how to massage your baby , BDI Playhouse offers Infant Massage classes in clinic and virtually. Trained therapists will help you find the best way to ready your baby’s unique cues to get the most out of massage! 

 

 Written By: Andrea Turnell, PT, DPT

 

Engorgement

Breast Engorgement

What is the best way to prevent engorgement while breastfeeding?  Frequent feedings!  Feeding your baby 10-12 times per 24 hours and making sure your breasts are emptied each feed should reduce your risk of experiencing engorgement.  However, if you are experiencing that painful fullness here are a few tips

Strategies to reduce engorgement

Before Breastfeeding

  1. Hand express or pump the breast for 1-3 minutes prior to feeding
  2. If you can get milk to flow use moist warm compresses to increase milk flowing
  3. If you cannot get milk to flow use cold pack on breasts
  4. Warm shower with back to water, taking a “breast bath” in warm water, and/or applying wash cloths that are moist and warm

While Nursing

  1. If the breasts or areola are too swollen for baby to latch pump or and express for 1-3 minutes to soften breast before feeding. 
  2. Apply light to moderate pressure (REVERSE PRESSURE SOFTENING) to move fluid around nipple and to make it more latchable.

Between Feedings

  1. Use cold compresses, over a protective layer of fabric, on your breasts, chest, and under arms to help decrease swelling.
  2. Wear bras that are not too loose and not too tight.

Engorged breasts can make your breastfeeding experience tough.  The best way to treat engorgement is to prevent it!  However, if you are experiencing persistent engorgement and would like additional help, schedule a free screening with one of our lactation counselors.

Written by Jessica Keenan, MA, CCC-SLP/L, CLC

Benefits of Breastfeeding

What are the benefits of breastfeeding babies?  Many moms are faced with familial and societal pressure of deciding whether they want to breastfeed or formula feed.   Before making the decision based on others experiences or the latest baby marketing trends, read on to find out how breastfeeding benefits baby, mom and your community!

Benefits of Breastfeeding

Baby

  • Decreases risk of mortality 
  • Reduces risk for asthma, upper respiratory infections, allergies, ear infections
  • Less risk for colic, reflux, gas, diarrhea, constipation, GI pain
  • Decreases risk for obesity, type 1 diabetes, Autism, ADHD
  • Increases intelligence scores
  • Reduces risk for narrow facial development

Mom

  • decreases risk of unwanted shorter pregnancy intervals
  • Satisfies baby’s emotional needs and increases bonding between mother and baby
  • reduces risk of PPD
  • Helps mom to lose ‘baby weight’
  • reduces risk for high blood pressure
  • decreases risk for ovarian and breast cancers
  • increases work attendance due to healthier baby

Community

  • More bonding opportunities for parents/children
  • Higher IQ subgroups
  • Do not have to worry about dangers of manufacturing errors/formula recall
  • Reduced financial strain without costs of formula
  • decreased waste production to make formula
  • reduced health care costs
  • decreased work absenteeism of parents due to infant/toddler illness

When making the decision between breastfeeding and formula feeding, it’s important to consider how it will effect mom, partner, baby, and your community!  Research shows that breastfeeding comes with increased health benefits for both mom and baby, mentally and physically.  Exclusively breastfeeding reduces the workload and financial burden on your partner.  Finally, it reduces the carbon footprint in your community!  Want to learn more?  Join us at our Breastfeeding Basics class!  Already in the thick-of-it and needing some support?  Reach out and schedule a free screen with one of our certified lactation counselors and infant feeding specialists!

Written by: Jessica Keenan, MA, CCC-SLP/L, CLC

Wrapping Presents for all Abilities

“Rocking (and unwrapping) around the Christmas Tree” – with Glee

green present

You’ve been plotting, planning, shopping and ordering fabulous holiday gifts for your little one. Now, it’s time to wrap up that pile of goodies! Here are a few tips to make the unwrapping process by your child easier and more fun for everyone!

  1. Use a single piece of tape while wrapping:

    Little fingers have a hard time pinching and pulling long edges of perfectly secured wrapping paper, make the wrapping/unwrapping process easier on both you and your child by securing sides with a single small piece of tape. The easier to unwrap, the less you have to help and the greater independence you foster in your child!

  2. Use festive bags:

    Avoid the hassle and frustration of unwrapping challenges all together by placing your child’s gifts in holiday bags! The ease of reaching in and removing their special gifts makes the moment more magical!

  3. Skip the wrapping, use a blanket, bag or box:

    Instead of wrapping presents, allow for an “unveiling” of gifts done by the child or parent with a “cover and lift” method. Simple placement of a cover leads to easy removal, decreasing the frustration of small eager hands without spoiling the surprise!

  4. Have toys and objects ready for use:

    The morning of a holiday brings chaos. The anticipation of gifts can lead to high tensions in the home. Make the moment more enjoyable for both of you by setting up toys or gifts ahead of time for prompt use. This means ditching the cardboard boxes, cutting through the tough zip ties, and inserting batteries (when required) before wrapping. Your child will delight in being able to promptly play with their new items while you relax and soak up the smiles!

  5. Scraps saved for learning:

    When the gifts have been opened and the bags, wrapping paper and tissue paper have been strewn about the room, collect the remnants in a box for later use. These various textures, colors and papers provide an excellent opportunity to work on skill building such as digging/finding, texture exposure, cutting with scissors, ripping/tearing, sorting, color identification, and other fun play and learning activities!  

Really let yourselves enjoy the holiday season by removing the stress of present unwrapping with these helpful tips! If your child is having difficulty around the holidays with motor skills for unwrapping and/or management of emotions or expectations impacting sleep, behavior or play, BDI therapists are here to help, offering free consultations for families all year round. We are wishing you the happiest of holidays!

Written by: Maggie Lord, MS, OTR/L

 

Gift Guide

BDI Playhouse is thrilled to share its 2020 gift guide.  This list is compiled by BDI Playhouse’s therapists specifically for children of all abilities.  The toys are shown through an Amazon Idea List but shopping around and shopping second-hand is highly encouraged!  A variation of each one of these toys can be found at BDI Playhouse’s clinics and are used on a daily basis.  The first list contains items that can be bought at the store or sent straight to your house.  The second list contains experience based gifts.  Both are intended to help your child grow in many areas!

Gifts for Growing Minds and Bodies

Amazon Gift Guide

Gifts that Keep on Giving

  1. Season passes: zoo, museum, aquarium
  2. One-time passes: movies, bowling, swimming, theatre performance, Disney on ice, circus, ice skating, roller skating
  3. Subscriptions: KiwiCo, National Geographic Kids Magazine, Little Passports
  4. Class/Season of Lessons: swimming, sports, gymnastics, dance, karate, musical instrument, pottery class, art class, craft class, horseback riding lessons

Thanks for stopping by!  If you have any questions on the best way to use these toys, check out one of BDI Playhouse classes where we demonstrate how to use these materials or schedule a free screening to talk to one of our therapists!

 

TURKEY TIME TROUBLES?

Turkey Time (as referred to by many of our kiddos) is just around the corner and it is either met with happy or anxious anticipation by children and adults!  A family member announces every Thanksgiving that this is her least favorite holiday because of how overwhelmed she feels with all the food options.  She says the anxiety starts weeks before the big day.  She has the ability to identify, process and express her anxiety related around a holiday.  Imagine, now, a child with the same feelings.  What might his or her anxiety look like?

Anxiety signs in kids:

  • Crying
  • Fleeing the table
  • Poor Sleep
  • Upset/outbursts more frequently or higher intensity than is typical
  • Irritability
  • Grimacing
  • Sweating
  • Yelling
  • Wide eyes
  • Gagging or vomiting
  • Decreased appetite
  • Tense or jittery body
  • Frequent urination

So, what can you do to help make this time less anxious for your child?

How you can help:

  • Take the pressure off! No need to focus on or force the idea of sitting down for a large meal with relatives!  Keep it casual for your kid
  • Validate feelings of discomfort around the holiday
  • Brainstorm food avoidance strategies for use at the Thanksgiving table with your child
  • Interact with Thanksgiving foods without eating them
  • Talk about it- set expectations and boundaries for the holiday festivities
  • Take breaks from the commotion 
  • Turn the focus- make the focus of the holiday less about the food and more about family, crafting/decorations, gratitude, whatever is important to your family!
  • Engage in calming strategies throughout the month.  Examples of calming strategies include heavy work, deep pressure, auditory supports, movement strategies, deep breathing/relaxation strategies, tactile bins, lighting adjustments, and visual toys.  These strategies can be used around meal time and outside of meal time.

Turkey time can be a successful holiday for your entire family, especially if you identify and prepare for the day ahead of time!  If you’d like additional resources, please set up a free screening with one of our occupational therapists at BDI playhouse!

Written by Maggie Lord MS, OTR/L, and Jessica Keenan, MA, CCC-SLP/L, CLC