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

Symptoms and Treatment of Childhood Depression

We all know when an adult is sad and depressed – they cry easily, prefer to be alone, and can verbally express their feelings. It is often hard, however, to identify depression in young children because it often mimics other disorders and concerns, including inattention, impulsively, aggression and learning problems. Some warning signs that parents and teachers should look out for include:

Symptoms of Childhood Depression:Depressed Boy

  • Easily comes to tears, feeling sad
  • Feeling worthless
  • Not interested in activities that used to be enjoyable
  • Irritable and often in a bad mood
  • Increase in aggressive and externalizing behaviors
  • Changes in sleep behavior (either sleeping more or less than normal)
  • Changes in eating behavior (either dramatic increase or decrease)
  • Decrease in energy and easily fatigued
  • Frequently turned away and neglected by peers
  • Decrease with academic performance
  • Difficulty staying still

As you can see, there are a plethora of symptoms of depression and every child who is depressed will express a variety of the above symptoms. If you notice changes with your child’s behavior and the onset of any of the above symptoms, the first thing that you should do is contact your child’s pediatrician. It is always important to identify whether or not there are medical concerns at the root of the symptoms. 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

How to Transition Your Special Need’s Child for the New School Year

parent teacher conferenceAs summer comes to a close, the transition back to school can be difficult for just about any child. After three months of fun with no real demands, children now have to attend to teachers for six hours and following a structured routine. Children with special needs and neurodevelopmental concerns are even more likely to face difficulty here, but there are numerous strategies parents and teachers can implement to ensure the transition goes smoothly as possible.

Preparing Your Child For The New School Year

Prior to school starting, it is important to sit down with your children and explain the changes that they will be experiencing soon. Prepare your child for the school year. Explain to him or her what the school routine will look like. Give your child a schedule of what the day will entail.

Getting Your Child Acquainted With The School And New Teacher

Next, bring your child to school to meet his or her new teacher, who should be able to give further preparation and reassurance for the coming year. If your child will be attending a new school, it is recommended that he or she take a tour beforehand in order to get acclimated to the layout and surroundings of the building. Read more

Dealing with Tantrums in Public: Behavior Tips to Ease Your Stress

You are not alone! At some point, almost every parent must deal with their child having a major meltdown in a public place. This is a typical developmental stage – every child goes through the “tantrum phase” – and as a parent, you can influence these behaviors in the way you respond. The following are some proactive and reactive strategies and tantrum tips to help you get through this frustrating yet typical part of growing up:
Child in Time Out for Throwing a Tantrum

Proactive Strategies (how to prevent the behavior from occurring):

Listen to the behavior! Behavior is a form of communication, so you must “listen” to it. Pay attention to why your child is having a tantrum. Most likely, it is because your child is trying to get something (e.g. your attention, a toy) or they are trying to get out of something (e.g. trying on clothes, leaving a store). Whatever you do, try not to give in to the behavior. If they are throwing a tantrum to get a toy, DO NOT give the toy or negotiate for another one. Similarly, if they are throwing a tantrum because they don’t want to try on clothes, DO NOT let them out of it. You can, however, lower the expectations. For example, have them try on one shirt before leaving the store. After you are consistent with listening and responding to the behavior appropriately, the tantrums will decrease on their own over time. Read more

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