Adding a new member to your family can be both exciting and terrifying. You may buy all of the books, read all of the blogs and posts, talk to all of your friends that have kids but are you really ready? There are so many questions… What if my baby has trouble breastfeeding? What do I do when my baby won’t stop crying? How do I know they are developing appropriately? What do I really need from the baby registry?
Some favorite tips from an Occupational Therapist
1. Developmental milestones: Developmental milestones give us a guideline, but may look different for each child. However, going through these milestones sets the foundation for later development. For example, crawling is an important stage in which children begin working on skills for bilateral coordination, hand strength and development and visual perception. Kids may have a brief crawling stage or skip it entirely and go straight to walking, but as an Occupational Therapist, I wonder what the reason is for that child. Is the reason that they are avoiding tactile input from the carpet? Do they have postural weakness that makes crawling difficult? Looking not only at if your child has met their developmental milestones, but also looking at how they got to each particular milestone is also important.
2. Baby registry: The baby registry seems to be never ending these days. Every family is different and may find themselves gravitating to their favorite baby items. There are a lot of options for places to put your baby-exersaucers, strollers, carriers, swings, bouncers, jumpers, c-shaped pillows, etc. You want to consider the amount of time your child spends in these types of equipment as opposed to being on the floor or snuggling with a caregiver. For some babies, the fabric from some of these positioners can be too wide for their hips. If you have a baby that is just resting on that fabric and not actively moving it could be harmful for the development of their hip muscles. When babies go from car seat to stroller to swing, their positions do not change. They are in a passive flexed position which does not promote development of extensor muscles, visual motor skills, bilateral coordination and tactile perception. In general, we look for kids to be free to move, look around, explore their environment as well as having time to connect with their caregiver.
3. Transition to table foods: Beginning your journey from baby foods to table foods is a messy business and often starts around 7-9 months of age. It is good to make sure that your child is ready for this new challenge. Some things to consider before attempting this transition are to make sure your child has adequate postural strength to hold themselves in a good seated posture without support. It may also be helpful to thicken their baby food a week or two before going to table foods. You can do this by adding cereal or freshly pureed fruits or vegetables. You also want to model eating for your baby. This is a stage that babies are doing a lot of imitating. If you are not eating with your child, you might want to think about having your meal with them. Mealtime is a good time to minimize distractions and focus on your baby and your baby can focus on you. Additionally, choosing foods that will melt after baby in your baby’s mouth, are a good place to start. Puffs are often chosen as a first food for babies because of this.
If you would like to learn more about preparing for your new child, we would love to invite you to our FREE Parent Seminar on Thursday June 1, 2017 at 7:30 PM. An occupational therapist will be discussing the topics here more thoroughly and also discussing-play, technology, feeding and managing behaviors. Click on the flyer below for more details!