Today’s lovely guest post is by Claire Heffron of The Inspired Tree House!
As pediatric occupational and physical therapists, we’ve worked with hundreds of families over the years to help support children with special needs so that they can grow, learn, and develop to their highest potential.
But our work doesn’t stop there. Because we work in a school setting, we’re called on regularly to provide ideas and support to help address common developmental issues that come up for typically functioning kids too.
Plus…between the two of us, we’re moms to 5 little ones ranging from 4 to 10 years old. So we’re always putting our “therapist minds” to work at home too, trying to solve the developmental glitches that come up for our own kids!
Here are some of our very best tips and ideas for supporting healthy development in kids. From picky eating to learning to ride a bike, and everything in between – we’ve got you covered!
One of the most important tips we can recommend to help give babies a head start on strength, coordination, and overall healthy physical development is to include as much tummy time as possible! Learn more and get some great tips for making tummy time fun and comfortable for your baby! Check out some of these baby must haves for the first 12 weeks with your newborn and try out some of these simple activities for 6-12 month olds.
Eventually, babies will move beyond playing on their tummies and learn to sit on their own. As they move into toddlerhood and beyond, it’s so important to ensure that they are demonstrating healthy sitting positions. We strongly caution parents to be aware of the dangers of W-Sitting and encourage other safer positions in their kids.
For some children, W-Sitting can be a sign of weakness in the core muscles. Weakness in the core can also contribute to poor overall posture and difficulty with gross motor skills. But don’t worry! Core strengthening for kids can be fun! We have lots of great ideas for building strength that will keep kids entertained too!
Another common question we get in our therapy practice is “How can I get my kid to sleep?” Our best answer? Sensory input! A little sensory know-how can go a long way toward helping your little one fall (and stay!) asleep. Here are some other tips for kids who have trouble sleeping.
Speaking of sensory, sometimes parents notice that their child’s behaviors are becoming more than just “quirky”. These kids might need extra support to meet their sensory processing needs. We think it’s important for parents and families to be aware of sensory red flags and when to get help from a professional.
Teaching kids how to dress themselves can be tough, but promoting independence with dressing skills is so important for self esteem, for being able to function independently at school, and for potty training…and it goes a long way toward preserving your sanity on a busy school morning!
Another common developmental issue we see in our therapy practice? Toe walking. Toe walking simply means that a child walks on his tip toes or doesn’t contact the ground with his heel first when taking a step. Learn more about the common causes of toe walking and what treatments are available if you see this pattern in your child.
Do you have a little one who is just learning to ride a bike? Our pediatric physical therapist has some awesome tips and tricks that will pave the way to success as your child masters this childhood rite of passage!
And, finally, the one thing every parent wants to know…what can we do to make sure our kids are ready for school? There are lots of simple and fun ways that you can promote the functional skills your child needs to succeed in the classroom. Our tips and strategies are great for increasing attention, safety, and independence in school and beyond!
When it comes to child development, we believe that the more everyone knows, the better off all kids are. Keep these ideas handy as you navigate through all of the phases of your child’s development. And remember, the most important thing you can give your child is you – tune in, engage, play, explore, and move with your child every single day and you’ll be well on your way to healthy, happy kids!