Top 5 Healthy Halloween Treats for Your Toddler

Halloween PizzaLadies and gentlemen, ghosts and goblins…the darkest, spookiest, goose-bumpin’ season has finally arrived! During Halloween season, there’s nothing scarier than the sight of your adorable toddler in his or her costume, running around with buckets full of candy. Lucky for you, they are still at an age where you can instill healthy eating habits in their little bodies without letting go of the Halloween spirit! Below is a list of some of my favorite healthy treats for Halloween which won’t lead to cavities and constant cravings for sweets.

 Top 5 Healthy Halloween Treats for Your Toddler 

 

  • Spooky Jell-O:  Make a package of orange Jell-O and use Halloween cookie cutters to make spooky creatures. Top it off with creepy crawlers and you’ve got yourself a non-fat treat. 
  •  Trick or Treat Alternatives: This year, take initiative in your neighborhood by giving healthier candy alternatives like animal crackers, single serve boxes of cereal, or individual 100 percent juice drinks. The more your toddler is exposed to it, the more likely they’ll choose it over candy! To top it off, you’ll make other parents very happy.  Read more

Getting Your Infant Into A Routine

Sleeping BabyEstablishing a routine with your infant can help provide structure and answers during a very overwhelming time. The straightforward “Eat, Play, Sleep” routine, for example, is appropriate for the first several months of a newborn’s life. After starting this routine, you will better understand what your infant is communicating (e.g. a long discontented cry while playing means “Mom I’m tired!” since the step following “play” is “sleep.”). Your baby will also develop secure attachments to their caregivers as their needs are consistently and accurately being met. Additionally, implementing this routine can help your infant establish healthy nighttime rhythms so that everyone can get more sleep! 

Get this routine started by feeding your infant. Feeding will occur at least 10 to12 times per day during the first few weeks of life, giving you plenty of opportunities to initiate this routine. Second, “play” with him or her. A very young infant may play for only 5 to 10 minutes, but over the next several months the “play” step will stretch out to a couple of hours. Examples of playtime activities for very young infants are suggested below. Finally, put your infant down to sleep. After your child wakes up, the cycle begins again. The only exception to these steps occurs during nighttime hours, when you will eliminate the “play” step and simply feed your child before putting him or her down to sleep. This will help your infant understand that daytime is for playing and nighttime is for sleeping.

When initially starting this routine, some detective work will be required to determine when your child is truly hungry and when he or she is simply tired. Look for the following cues to help decide.

Hungry Cues From Your Baby:

  • Initiation of the “rooting reflex” – turning head to side and opening mouth
  • Sucking on hands or other objects, e.g. the caregiver’s shoulder or arm
  • Licking lips or smacking lips
  • Opening or closing mouth
  • General fussiness or crying after waking

Fatigued Cues:

  • Decreased engagement – won’t look at you or favorite objects for very long
  • Decreased movement
  • Eyes that are barely open
  • Yawning
  • Rubbing eyes or pulling on ears
  • General discontentedness and crying after playing

How can you play with a newborn or very young infant? Give your newborn sensory experiences, and remember that the world is a new and potentially overwhelming place.

Try not to do much too quickly or often, and try to stimulate only once sense at a time. 

  • Sing to him
  • Play with her hands and feet
  • Walk him around and tell him about his surroundings
  • Simple black and white toys such as rattles are appropriate for young infants. See if your infant will turn towards the sound of the rattle or look in its direction.
  • Play the “tongue game.” Mimic your baby’s tongue movements, and watch to your amazement as he repeats the same tongue movement! Many infants can play this game even after only a few weeks of life.

Enjoy this new and exciting time in your life! 

Auditory Processing and Language Processing: What’s the Difference?

Understanding Language Processing

Boy in Speech Therapy

Language comprehension…language processing…auditory processing… what does it all mean? The various terminology used to describe a child’s difficulty with listening can be overwhelming to say the least. A first encounter with these terms might feel perplexing as parents search for the best possible help to meet their child’s needs.

A recent surge in public awareness of auditory processing disorders has led to many misconceptions about what this disorder really is (and what it is not). The term “auditory processing disorder” is frequently applied loosely, and often incorrectly, to any individuals having trouble with listening and processing spoken language. However, there are several possible underlying causes for listening difficulty. Read more

Back To School: Help your child defeat anxiety and go back strong!

Boy going to SchoolHealthy Expression:

Start by helping your child express their worries, fears, problems and more in the comfort of their own home. Give them your undivided attention and find a private space away from siblings if needed. Help them find the correct labels for their feelings, ideally in their own words. Many children enjoy using creative methods of expression (e.g. drawing pictures, writing in journals, creating social stories) while some are able to spell it out while relaxing at bath time or bedtime.

Validate & Empathize

Showing your child that you respect, accept and understand their emotions serves as a big boost to their self-confidence! Sometimes this is enough to give your child the relief they are seeking. All feelings should be accepted (but not necessarily all behaviors that are often associated with negative feelings). Rather than reassuring them that you will keep them safe, let them know that yes, these things are scary and you hear their true feelings. Let them feel your belief in them—how proud, positive and excited you are! Read more

5 Ways to Get Your Picky Toddler to Eat 

toddler not eating dinner

Struggling to get your toddler to eat a variety of foods? Tired of watching them eat the same foods from the same food group over and over again? Have no fear! NSPT’s very own dietitian is here! 🙂

First and foremost, is your child a picky eater? Do they refuse to eat any of the healthy foods that you offer? Have you tried unsuccessfully to get them to eat different healthy foods? Is the number of foods they are willing to eat so limited it concerns you? If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to any of those questions, your child may be a selective eater. However, in many cases, picky eating has nothing to do with food and has more to do with control.

5 Tips for a Picky Eater

1. Set a schedule. Children tend to respond well to routine, so try to schedule a set time for breakfast, lunch, dinner and at least two small snacks. The more consistent the timing, the more your child will get accustomed to eating every two to three hours.

2. Take advantage of food jags. Does your toddler only eat plain macaroni orr pieces of cheese? Have no fear – the good news is that they’re eating! It’s safe to assume that eventually they will get over these “food jags”, and now is the time to experiment with healthier alternatives without taking away their favorite food. For example, try pasta with added fiber or cheese made with two percent milk for healthier alternatives.

3. Don’t give up. When it comes to getting your picky eater to try new foods, be patient. Studies show that it can take up to 15 to 20 consistent tries in a period of one to two months for a child to even consider trying a new food. If your child doesn’t want to eat chicken on Monday, try again on Friday or the following week.

4. Participation is key. Try to get your child involved with grocery shopping and meal preparation. Let them pick out fruits and vegetables at the local farmers’ market and get them involved in the kitchen. The more you get them involved with what they can eat, the more likely they’ll be to try it.

5. Remember the rule of thumb: your child will decide what he or she will eat, but you as a parent decide what foods and how often. Especially during the ages of two to five, children try to gain their independence with their eating behavior. The less you try to force them to eat, the more likely your child will be able to control their own food intake.

What is your secret to get your picky eater to eat? What has worked for you? Do share!

Child Development: Is My Child Normal?

Mom and Baby The number one reason that parents contact myself and the various therapists at North Shore Pediatric Therapy is to find out whether or not their children are developing and progressing at a normal rate. When should my child crawl? When should she start speaking? At what age should he be walking? These are all questions that we find ourselves answering on a daily basis. Parents often are not privy to this information. If only children would come with an instruction manual. Each child develops at a different rate, which is found to be dependent upon several factors including environmental influence (exposure to a variety of experiences) to genetic predisposition. That being said, there are stages of development that every child will reach in a hierarchical order. The main areas of development include a child’s motor ability and his or her language functioning. Language functioning can then be broken down into two main areas: receptive language, which is the child’s ability to listen to and follow auditory demands, and expressive language, which is the ability to provide comprehensive responses. Below is a chart for the major stages of motor and language development along with typical ages in which the child should reach the stage. Read more