Occupational Therapy

How to Know if Your Child is Overstimulated and What to Do About It!

The holiday season can be filled with excitement, family gatherings, parties, school concerts, trips to see Santa, vacations, and lots of presents and new toys….

BUT, it is important to recognize how challenging this time of year can be for babies and kids. It is very easy for babies, and kids, alike to get over-stimulated (and who's kidding who, us adults as well!).

Developmental Movement Patterns That Carry Us Through Life

As a Family Health Coach, a big part of the work I do with my clients is educating and helping with their baby’s and children’s development.

Whether that be physical development through reaching milestones, or helping with introduction to solids, or even helping navigate through their baby’s sleep development. As babies grow up, into big kids, I also work with them on more specific development of fine and gross motor skills, as well as development of social-emotional regulation skills, attention, focus, and more, so that they can become functioning little humans and reach their highest potential in their daily lives.

Today I wanted to talk about physical development, and specifically about the 4 main developmental movement patterns that help us achieve our motor milestones, and literally carry us through life.

Putting the Back, into Back to School: Back Pack Tips for your Child

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With kids back in school now, and the back-to-school madness somewhat calmed down, I thought it would be great to share a few ergonomic and OT tips to help you help your daycare/school age children carry their load comfortably and safely.

Backpacks come in all sizes, colors, fabrics, and shapes and help kids of all ages express their own personal sense of style.

If you are like most parents, you are probably in the habit researching the best products/brands for your child. I know I definitely fall into this category! From strollers and developmental toys, to crayons, shoes, and bento boxes. Of course, you want to make sure it is good quality and will meet the needs the items is set out to.

Same goes for backpacks! There are a few key things that we, as parents, should be mindful of when it comes to choosing the right backpack for our kids.

“A child wearing a backpack incorrectly or that is too heavy can be contributing risk factors for discomfort, fatigue, muscle soreness, and musculoskeletal pain especially in the lower back,” says Karen Jacobs, EdD, OTR/L, CPE

Carrying a heavy load that is unevenly or improperly distributed can result in:

  • poor posture

  • may distort the spinal column

  • could cause muscle strain, headaches, back, neck and arm pain, and even nerve damage.

A heavy backpack, carried incorrectly (ie. on one shoulder or with too much weight), can pull a child backward. To compensate, the child might bend forward at the hips, arch the back, or lean to one side. This can make the spine compress, leading to shoulder, neck, and back pain, placing stress on the back. All of which can lead to back problems later in life…eek!

A backpack with tight, narrow straps that dig into the shoulders can interfere with circulation and nerves, leading to tingling, numbness, and weakness in the arms and hands.

Things to consider when choosing a backpack

  1. Correct Size: Always select a backpack that is the correct size for your child. (that means no gigantic adult sized backpacks dragging on the ground when little children wear them.....little children = little backpacks).

    • Height should be from approximately 2 inches below the shoulder blades to waist level, or slightly above the waist.

  2. Light-weight: Go for either vinyl or canvas, as these are the lightest options.

  3. Wide, Padded Straps: Make sure it has two wide, adjustable, preferably padded shoulder straps, to increase comfort. Wear shoulder straps on BOTH shoulders so the weight is evenly balanced. This helps to make sure the strong core muscles — the back and the abdominal muscles — support the weight of the packs.

  4. Pockets: Multiples pockets will help distribute weight evenly. Load heaviest items closest to the child’s back and any bumpy or awkwardly shaped items in the pockets.

  5. Hip/Waist Belt: If the backpack has one, use it! It will help improve balance and take some strain off sensitive neck and shoulder muscles.

  6. BackPack With Wheels: If the backpack is still too heavy for the child, consider one with wheels.

No more than 10% of child's body weight. If it weighs more, determine what supplies can stay at home or at school each day to lessen the load.

I love the AOTA’s BackPack Awareness slogan:

“Pack it LIGHT, wear it RIGHT”

Backpacks and back health are just a few of the things to think about as your child continues on their school journey. Join the Play & Bloom Community to stay up-to-date with the latest OT tips and tricks on the P&B Buzz!

* Reference: American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) - www.aota.org

Help! My Child Won't Sleep!

We ALL need sleep, so when our child is not sleeping, it affects the whole family!

As parents we are somewhat prepared for the sleep exhaustion that comes along with a newborn, but what we struggle with is when our babies won’t nap, seem to fight falling asleep, need the comfort of mom/dad next to them to fall and stay asleep, nurse for hours before bedtime and during the night,  needing to be rocked/bounced/shushed to sleep, and/or the 3am ‘party/play-time’.  And those struggles become even harder when our 6+ month old, or even toddler, is still not ‘sleeping through the night’. 

It takes a village to raise a child: how Occupational Therapists can support new moms!

Since having my first child just two years ago, I developed a strong passion for pre-natal/postnatal women’s health, the bonding/attachment between mom and baby, and supporting moms to support their child’s development from the beginning.  My newfound courage as a mother recently propelled me into starting my own business, as an entrepreneur and Occupational Therapist, called Play & Bloom Therapy. 

My goal is to become a part of their (moms) 'village', to foster their support network, which will positively impact the health and well-being of both mom and baby.