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Category: Toddler Development

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What is a Superbill?

A superbill is a detailed invoice used in medical practices to communicate the services provided to a patient and the corresponding charges for those services. It is often used in healthcare settings, such as doctor’s offices, clinics, or other healthcare facilities. Superbills are typically given to patients after they receive medical services, and they serve several purposes:

Documentation of Services: 

A superbill provides a detailed breakdown of the services rendered during a patient’s visit. This includes information such as the date of service, the services provided (e.g., specific medical procedures or examinations), and any relevant diagnosis or procedure codes.

Insurance Billing: 

Superbills are essential for patients seeking reimbursement from their insurance companies. Patients can submit the superbill to their insurance provider to claim reimbursement for covered services. The codes on the superbill help insurance companies understand the nature of the services provided and determine the eligible reimbursement amount.

Record Keeping:

Superbills also serve as a record-keeping tool for both the healthcare provider and the patient. They document the details of each visit, making it easier to track the patient’s medical history and billing information.

Here’s a brief overview of how a superbill works:

Service Documentation:The healthcare provider documents the services provided to the patient during a visit. This may include office visits, procedures, diagnostic tests, or other medical services.

Code Assignment:Each service is assigned a specific code, usually using standardized medical coding systems such as Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes for procedures and International Classification of Diseases (ICD) codes for diagnoses.

Superbill Generation:The superbill is generated, either in paper or electronic format, and provided to the patient. It includes details such as the provider’s information, patient information, date of service, a description of services, and corresponding codes.

Patient Submission: If the patient has insurance coverage, they can submit the superbill to their insurance company for reimbursement. The insurance company reviews the superbill, verifies the information, and processes the claim accordingly.

Billing and Payments:The healthcare provider may use the information on the superbill to generate a bill for the patient, indicating the amount owed. Payments can be made by the patient directly or through insurance reimbursement.

It’s important to note that the specific details of Superbill creation and submission may vary depending on the healthcare provider, billing practices, and insurance policies

An occupational therapy Superbill typically includes detailed information about the services provided during an occupational therapy session. The purpose of the superbill is to document the specifics of the session so that it can be used for billing purposes, including reimbursement from insurance companies. Here are some common elements that may be included in an occupational therapy superbill:

1. Provider Information:

– Name, credentials, and contact information of the occupational therapist or the healthcare facility providing occupational therapy services.

2. Patient Information:


– Patient’s name, date of birth, address, and contact information.

3. Date of Service:


– The specific date or dates on which occupational therapy services were provided.

4. Description of Services:

– Detailed description of the occupational therapy services rendered during the session. This may include assessments, interventions, treatments, and other therapeutic activities.

5. CPT (Current Procedural Terminology) Codes:


– CPT codes are standardized codes used to describe medical, surgical, and diagnostic services. Occupational therapists use CPT codes to identify and bill for specific services. Common CPT codes for occupational therapy include evaluation codes, therapeutic procedure codes, and adaptive behavior treatment codes.

6.ICD (International Classification of Diseases) Codes:


– ICD codes are used to specify the diagnosis or reason for the occupational therapy services. These codes provide information about the patient’s medical condition or reason for seeking therapy.

7. Duration of Session:


– The amount of time spent on each session, as occupational therapy services are often billed based on time increments.

8. Modifiers (if applicable):


– Modifiers may be used to provide additional information about the services performed. For example, modifiers may indicate if a service was provided as part of a group session or if it involved the use of specific equipment.

9. Provider Signature:


– Some superbills may include a space for the occupational therapist’s signature, verifying that the services were indeed provided.

10. Insurance Information (if applicable):


– Information related to the patient’s insurance, such as the insurance provider’s name, policy number, and any other necessary details for insurance billing.

 

It’s important to note that the specific details on an occupational therapy superbill may vary based on the healthcare provider’s practices and the requirements of the insurance companies involved. Additionally, compliance with billing and coding regulations is crucial to ensure accurate reimbursement for services provided. Healthcare providers often stay updated on coding and billing practices to adhere to industry standards and guidelines.
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Household chores for Kids: An OT Perspective

As an occupational therapist, I often emphasize the importance of engaging children in household chores as a means of developing their skills and enhancing their overall well-being. While some may view these tasks as mundane and unimportant, they can play a significant role in promoting the physical, cognitive, and emotional development of children. In this blog post, I will explore the reasons why teaching household chores to kids is essential from an occupational therapy perspective.

  1. Developing motor skills

Household chores require children to engage in a range of fine and gross motor activities, such as sweeping, mopping, washing dishes, and folding laundry. These activities help to strengthen the muscles in their hands and arms, improve hand-eye coordination, and develop their balance and coordination. Through repeated practice of these tasks, children can refine their motor skills and gain greater control over their movements.

  1. Building independence and self-esteem

When children learn to perform household tasks independently, they develop a sense of mastery and achievement. This, in turn, can enhance their self-esteem and confidence. As they take on more responsibility around the house, they also develop a greater sense of independence and self-sufficiency, which can be valuable skills for their future success.

  1. Promoting executive functioning

Household chores require children to plan and sequence tasks, organize materials, and manage their time effectively. These skills are essential components of executive functioning, which refers to the cognitive processes that enable individuals to set goals, prioritize tasks, and regulate their behavior. By engaging in household chores, children can improve their executive functioning skills, which can help them succeed in school, work, and life.

  1. Fostering social skills

Household chores also provide opportunities for children to practice social skills, such as communication, cooperation, and teamwork. When children work together to complete a task, they learn to negotiate and compromise, share responsibilities, and support each other. These skills can help them form positive relationships with others and navigate social situations effectively.

  1. Teaching life skills

Finally, household chores teach children important life skills that they will need as adults, such as cooking, cleaning, and budgeting. By mastering these skills early on, children can develop a sense of competence and preparedness for their future roles as caregivers, partners, and parents.

In conclusion, teaching household chores to kids is important from an occupational therapy perspective because it supports their physical, cognitive, and emotional development, fosters independence and self-esteem, promotes executive functioning and social skills, and teaches valuable life skills. As parents, caregivers, and educators, we can help children develop these skills by involving them in age-appropriate household tasks and providing them with the support and guidance they need to succeed.

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Sensory Diet

A sensory diet is a personalized program of sensory activities that is designed to meet the specific needs of an individual. A sensory diet is often used to help individuals with sensory processing difficulties, including those with autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and sensory processing disorder (SPD).

The goal of a sensory diet is to provide a structured and predictable sequence of sensory experiences throughout the day, in order to support the individual’s ability to regulate their sensory systems and respond appropriately to their environment. A sensory diet typically includes a combination of activities that engage the various senses, such as touch, vision, hearing, smell, and proprioception (the sense of the body’s position in space).

Examples of activities included in a sensory diet can include:

  • Heavy work activities, such as carrying heavy objects, pushing or pulling, and jumping.

  • Proprioceptive input activities, such as crawling, bear walks, and activities that apply pressure to the joints.

  • Vestibular input activities, such as swinging, spinning, and jumping.

  • Fine motor activities, such as using tweezers or tongs to pick up small objects.

  • Calm and relaxing activities, such as deep pressure massage or meditation.

A sensory diet is customized to meet the individual’s specific needs and can be adjusted over time as the individual’s needs change. An occupational therapist specializing in sensory integration can help design a sensory diet that is appropriate for an individual’s needs.

Sample 'sensory diet' Activities:

PLEASE: Always Consult a Pediatric Occupational Therapist to Customize your child’s specific Sensory Diet. 

Vestibular Sensory Diet:

The vestibular system is a sensory system located in the inner ear that provides information about movement and helps maintain balance and stability. A vestibular sensory diet is a personalized program of sensory activities that is designed to provide the individual with vestibular input, in order to support the regulation of their vestibular system.

Examples of vestibular input activities that may be included in a vestibular sensory diet include:

  • Swinging: Swinging in a variety of directions, such as forward and backward, side to side, and circular, can provide vestibular input.

  • Spinning: Activities such as spinning on a spinning board or in a circle can provide intense vestibular input.

  • Bouncing: Bouncing on a therapy ball, trampoline, or other equipment can provide vestibular input.

  • Rolling: Rolling down a mat, rolling over a therapy ball, or rolling along a balance beam can provide vestibular input.

  • Rocking: Rocking back and forth in a rocking chair or on a therapy ball can provide vestibular input.

These activities can help individuals with vestibular difficulties improve their vestibular processing and enhance their ability to regulate their vestibular system. However, it’s important to remember that every individual is unique and may need different vestibular experiences to help with their specific needs. An occupational therapist specializing in sensory integration can help design a vestibular sensory diet that is appropriate for an individual’s needs.

Visual Sensory Diet:

The visual system is a sensory system that processes information from the eyes and helps us see and understand our surroundings. A visual sensory diet is a personalized program of sensory activities that is designed to provide the individual with visual input, in order to support the regulation of their visual system.

Examples of visual input activities that may be included in a visual sensory diet include:

  • Eye tracking: Following a moving object with the eyes, such as a pendulum or a toy on a string, can help improve eye tracking abilities.

  • Visual scanning: Scanning a visual scene, such as a book or a picture, can help improve visual attention and scanning abilities.

  • Visual closure: Completing a picture or finding an object in a cluttered scene can help improve visual closure abilities.

  • Visual memory: Remembering and recalling information from a visual scene can help improve visual memory abilities.

  • Visual figure-ground: Distinguishing a figure from the background, such as finding an object in a busy scene, can help improve figure-ground discrimination abilities.

These activities can help individuals with visual processing difficulties improve their visual processing and enhance their ability to regulate their visual system. However, it’s important to remember that every individual is unique and may need different visual experiences to help with their specific needs. An occupational therapist specializing in sensory integration can help design a visual sensory diet that is appropriate for an individual’s needs.

Tactile Sensory Diet:

The tactile system is a sensory system that processes information from the skin and helps us feel touch and pressure. A tactile sensory diet is a personalized program of sensory activities that is designed to provide the individual with tactile input, in order to support the regulation of their tactile system.

Examples of tactile input activities that may be included in a tactile sensory diet include:

  • Heavy work activities: Engaging in heavy work activities, such as carrying heavy objects, pushing or pulling, and jumping, can provide deep pressure input to the skin.

  • Textured activities: Touching or manipulating different textures, such as sandpaper, feathers, or different types of fabrics, can provide varied tactile input to the skin.

  • Vibrating activities: Using vibrating toys or tools, such as a vibrating cushion or a vibrating ball, can provide vibratory input to the skin.

  • Squeezing activities: Squeezing a therapy ball or other type of resistance equipment can provide input to the skin and muscles.

  • Brushing activities: Brushing the skin with a soft brush, such as a therapeutic brush, can provide light touch input to the skin.

These activities can help individuals with tactile processing difficulties improve their tactile processing and enhance their ability to regulate their tactile system. However, it’s important to remember that every individual is unique and may need different tactile experiences to help with their specific needs. An occupational therapist specializing in sensory integration can help design a tactile sensory diet that is appropriate for an individual’s needs.

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What is Sensory Integration?

Sensory integration refers to the process by which the central nervous system combines and organizes sensory information from the environment in order to produce meaningful and purposeful responses. This process involves the integration of information from different sensory systems, such as touch, vision, hearing, smell, and proprioception (the sense of the body’s position in space), into a unified, coherent perception of the world.

Sensory integration is essential for many everyday activities, such as moving around and interacting with objects in the environment. It allows us to coordinate our movements, understand the relationships between objects, and respond to stimuli in an appropriate manner.

Disruptions in sensory integration can lead to difficulties in processing sensory information and can contribute to conditions such as autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and sensory processing disorder (SPD). Occupational therapy that includes sensory integration techniques can be helpful in treating these conditions.

Sensory integration is especially important for children as they develop and learn about the world around them. During early childhood, the brain is rapidly developing and integrating sensory information, which lays the foundation for future learning and development.

For children, sensory integration activities can include a range of experiences that engage the senses and help them process sensory information in a meaningful way. Examples of sensory integration activities for kids include:

  • Playing with playdough or other sensory materials such as sand, water, or foam.

  • Climbing and crawling on different surfaces and textures, such as a soft rug or a bumpy mat.

  • Engaging in physical activities such as jumping, swinging, and spinning.

  • Doing art projects that engage multiple senses, such as painting with different textures or making sensory bottles with items such as water, food coloring, and glitter.

  • Listening to music or playing musical instruments.

  • Sensory storytelling, where children listen to a story while engaging with sensory materials.

These activities can help children with sensory integration difficulties develop their sensory processing skills, improve their motor coordination, and enhance their ability to interact with and respond to their environment. However, it’s important to remember that every child is unique and may need different sensory experiences to help with their specific needs. An occupational therapist specializing in sensory integration can help design an appropriate sensory diet for your child.

Now what is Sensory diet? Stay tuned for our Next blog!! Share this post on your Social Media now 🙂 

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Top indoor activities away from the screens for kids ages 1-3

While we all love getting fresh air and sunshine, sometimes, you get stuck inside. When rainy, cold weather, a hot summer afternoon—or a pandemic—keeps you and your kids inside. Outdoor winter activities and summer activities can be hard to do when the weather’s not cooperating. While it can be tempting to let your toddlers spend the day in front of the TV, there are plenty of creative, non-screen time activities to help your kids learn, grow, and play well in the comfort of your own home. 

Do they like cooking activities? do you know how beneficial is cooking activities for your toddler? https://otpark.com/cooking-with-kids/

Here we listed several cooking activities with their benefits for you that your toddler may participate in.

Making Slime with kids

Let’s just say that kids really love the fantastic sensory experience slime gives. Squishy and stretchy things like homemade Slime simply beg to be touched!

Tactile activities such as Slime making are a treat for the senses. Toddlers engage their sense of touch! For so many kids, Slime can be such a, calming relaxing, regulating activity. That’s exactly why they gravitate toward playing it!

Toddler’s often like to keep their hands busy, helping them to focus. Also, Slime is an awesome stress-relieving tool, and it makes a beautiful brain break! Kids who need extra help with sensory processing work will love Slime too! Slime is for everyone.

Aren’t you always looking for ideas to further strengthen your connection with your kids?

What about doing it by engaging them in something they love to do. Show them that you’re interested in what they love. And, of course, enrolling in your child’s activities as a parent would give them a sense of trust in you!

Immediate connection/ The kid(s) will know you’re going to get them and want to be part of their world. Who knows they might even come and talk to you earlier when having other problems.

Making Slime is not just something that needs to be achieved. It’s a great path to fun and safe interactions with your children, but it’s all about how you see slime making. If you think it’s dumb and pointless, you ‘re missing the chance of a connection. When you run with it and know how to make awesome homemade slime right alongside them.

Is Slime Safe to Play with?

In a nutshell, yes, Slime is perfectly safe for most kids.

It’s important to:

-Understand how much of each ingredient you need, and stick more or less to that ratio. Although slimming will often require fine-tuning and more activator or glue, a clear understanding of each ingredient’s approximate quantities is necessary.

-Track your children as they’re making the Slime. As with any activity, keep an eye on your children to work with the materials safely.

Drawing coloring and painting

The freedom to explore and express creativity through art is one of the best gifts you can give your growing toddler. From coloring and finger paints to playdough and sidewalk chalk, artistic play is the perfect way to foster creativity in your little one—and develop lots of other important skills along the way.

Art is not only fun for little ones, but it teaches too. Creative play helps babies and toddlers develop crucial early childhood skills like sensory and fine motor skills, problem-solving, cognitive development, self-confidence, and even early math skills like recognizing shapes, sizes, and patterns.

When you’re sitting down to make art with your kiddo, keep in mind that it’s the process, not the final product. (Although all those masterpieces will definitely liven up the front of your refrigerator!) Working on an art project together is a great time to work on language skills by talking to your toddler about what they’re making or asking them open-ended questions about their work. It can also be super empowering; there’s nothing quite like watching a 2-year-old rock their independence by dipping that paintbrush in every.single.color.

Before you and your little Picasso get to work, you might want to keep a few things in mind:

  • Dedicate a workspace for creative, artistic play. It can be anything from a small desk in the corner of a playroom to a larger space with a craft table or easel; just make sure there’s enough room for your little one to spread out.
  • Prep for mess. If cleaning finger paints out of your carpet doesn’t sound like your idea of a good time, be sure to invest in the right dress and a drop cloth for the floor. You can thank us later.
  • Supplies are key. Give your little one free reign to make art whenever the inspiration strikes. (While you keep an eye on them, of course!) This means you’ll need to stock your art space with safe, kid-friendly supplies like child-safe scissors, glue sticks, and easy-grip crayons and markers. We also love lining tables with rolls of craft paper for maximum creativity!
  • Keep your activities age-appropriate. For younger toddlers from 12-18 months or so, this often means lots of supervised sensory play (shaving cream canvas, sand play or finger paints) and simpler projects (sponge paints or large chalk), while kids closer to 2 may start to enjoy more traditional art projects like coloring, painting, collages or modeling clay.
  • Don’t forget to have fun! Toddlers love to express themselves, and art is a great way to empower them to do just that. Let them explore, create, and play.

Telling stories

“If you want your children to be smart, tell them stories. If you want them to be brilliant, tell them more stories.”- Albert Einstein

How often do you sit down with your children and tell them stories? Is your answer no, or rarely? You’re missing out on a key part of their growth – the amazing benefits of storytelling that affect their mental functions and developments in more ways than you expect.

When you tell your kid a story, there’s a magical moment when he sits enthralled, his mouth open, his eyes wide. The stories that the child hears shape their universe. When they listen to stories, something really important is being triggered – their imagination. They learn to go beyond their environment, their walls,  into faraway places, and explore the minds of extraordinary people.

You can increase children’s memory capacity by asking them to remember the stories you’ve already read or asking them to remember where you stopped the day before. Try to let your child share his emotions, opinions about the characters, and the expression of hatred for evil in the stories.

If you want your toddler to listen actively and deeply understand the story, you have to read the stories emotionally. Adapt the pitch of your voice to the feelings and emotions conveyed in the tale. Using active body language to express ideas in a meaningful way. Storytelling parents are found to have a more emotional bond with their children. 

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The Importance of Developmental Milestones for Every Child 0 to 6 Years of Age

Developmental milestones are barometers for skills that each child should be able to do by a set age. They are the primary standard that kids are measured by to make sure they are developing appropriately. Each skill builds upon one another. When a milestone goes unmet or is delayed, several problems can ensue. Developmental milestones are skills that you should always consider as a parent of kids 0 to about 6 years old. 

Typical milestones categories include Social-emotional, Movement, Language/Communication, and Cognition/Problem Solving. Here at OT Park, we have compiled a list of milestones for children ages 0-6 years old in the areas of:

  • Gross motor
  • Grasp patterns
  • Scissor skills
  • Toilet skills
  • Home chores
  • Dressing skills
  • Scissor skills
  • Pencil grip development

So, how do you know if your child is developing appropriately and meeting age-appropriate milestones? After downloading your OT Park Milestone checklist, based on your child’s age, try skills in the category younger age-level and then the older age-level to see what your child can do. If you realize that your child is having difficulty completing age-level activities or younger, reach out to your pediatrician for next steps to better help your child. OT Park is gearing up to launch telehealth services and will be available and honored to help your child in any way that we can. If you find that your child is meeting the age-appropriate milestone, this is great. Keep working on the next skill. 

Either way, providing your child with what we OTs like to call the “just right challenge,” or a challenge that isn’t over or underwhelming, can help your child build confidence, strength, and endurance without making them feel as though they are incapable! 

Keeping an eye on your child’s development is vital for their future success and well-being! 

Also, feel free to contact us if you have any questions or concerns. 

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Early exposure to sensory activities

“There is nothing in the intellect that was not first in the senses,” – Aristotle

Did you know that when your baby crawls around a room touching objects, playing with toys, listening to you singing songs, or putting things in his mouth, he’s doing a lot more than just playing? Toddlers use their senses to learn about and explore their environment. As a parent, you can enhance this learning by providing a positive sensory experience.

Sensory play or experience would then allow your child to interact with his surroundings and learn about his world. 

Once your child is born, his brain is ready to gain knowledge about the world. They’re actually learning long before they walk and talk. This learning takes place through hearing, touch, taste, sight, smell, and movement. They hear our voices, enjoy bouncing, chew toys, and touch everything they can.

The more positive sensory experiences your baby has, the stronger newly built brain connections become. Sensory play not only has a positive effect on your child now, but also helps to promote learning and development even in adulthood.

Researchers have found that a baby who is not given an appropriate set of opportunities and is kept in a swing most of the day or is kept in a dark, quiet environment for long periods can have his learning and brain development stunted by lack of exposure to sensory stimuli. 

These sensory systems don’t develop simultaneously, but rather in a specific order that does not vary.

This is tactile > vestibular > chemical > audio > visual. The infant has five senses functioning at different levels at the time of birth. 

Building blocks essential to an efficient sensory system

  • For effective sensory processing, all sensory systems need to work together. It should be recognized that the sensory system is indeed composed of seven senses; these sensory systems process information as the building blocks to most of the individual skills.
  • Visual Sense: This is the ability to understand and interpret what is seen. The visual system uses the eyes to collect information about the contrast between light and dark, color, and movement. It receives sensory information from the environment by light waves that stimulate the retina then by the optic nerve to the visual cortex on the back of the brain.
  • Auditory Sense: is the ability to interpret information that is heard. The auditory system uses the external and middle ear to obtain sound information. They collect information about volume, pitch, and rhythm to the brain’s side parts by the 8th nerve.
  • Olfactory Sense is the ability to interpret smells by Receiving the chemical makeup of particles in the air to determine if the smell.
  • Gustatory Sense: it is the ability to interpret information regarding taste in the mouth using specialized buds on the tongue’s upper surface.
  • Tactile Sense: It uses skin receptors to receive sensations of touch, such as fine touch, pressure, vibration, temperature, and pain. This is the first Sense to develop (in the womb), and, as such, it is vital for the overall neural network.
  • Proprioceptive Sense is the ability to interpret where your body parts are in relation to each other. It uses information from the nerves and sheaths of the muscles and bones to inform about body posture and movement by muscle contraction, stretching, bending, straightening, pulling, and compression.
  • Vestibular Sense: is the ability to interpret information relating to movement and balance. The vestibular system uses specialized channels in the inner ear to transmit information on movement, change of direction, change of position of the head, and gravitational pull.

Most human critical periods exist within the early years postnatal, which is why sensory play is especially important for young children​.

A critical period is a phase in which brain cell connections are more plastic and receptive to the influence of a certain type of life experience. These connections, called synapses, can be formed or strengthened more easily during this period.

A recent study has linked the lack of sensory play and negative home environments, especially during children’s first three years with several developmental problems, including:

  • Poorer language development by age three.
  • Later behavior issues.
  • Deficits in school readiness.
  • Anxiety, Aggression, and depression.
  • Impaired cognitive development at age three.

The Importance of Sensory Play

Building Nerve Connections

Research indicates that sensory play builds nerve connections (synapses) in the brain pathways that contribute to a child’s ability to perform more complex learning tasks.

Cognitive Development

Children first learn to understand new things through their senses. Every time they encounter something that is sticky, cold, or wet, for example, they gain a better understanding of which types of objects have these characteristics. Your child will then begin to make connections between things that have similar properties.

Strengthening Fine Motor Skills

Sensory play often involves touching, pouring, pinching, sorting, and moving actions. Toddlers primarily use their hands to explore, building on their fine motor skills, which will later be used for writing, zipping jackets, buttoning clothes, and tying shoes.

Enhancing Language Skills

By exploring new smells, tastes, and textures through sensory play, children can learn new ways to describe things found in the world around them. For example, a rock will be more than a rock when they feel it – it’s either smooth or rough or cool to the touch.  Also, your kids begin to describe food as sweet, salty, spicy, or crunchy.

Sensory Play Is Calming

You may have noticed that your kid is calmer after bath time or after a particularly rough session of jumping around the room, crashing onto his bed, banging into furniture, or pillows. This type of sensory activity calms children as it helps them manage their internal discomfort, whether it is boredom or restlessness.

 Early taste experiences 

 Early life nutrition is an important factor affecting later health. Your child’s food habits are shaped in infancy and are tracked back to adolescence and beyond, meaning that supportive eating activities are important to prevent eating disorders later in life.

Italian researchers from the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Milan have shown that early repeated experiences with different tastes and supportive feeding increase the children’s desire to try new foods and greatly decrease the risk of having a picky-eater kid in a healthy social environment. In other words, you, as a parent, can modify the innate food preferences of your child! 

By paying attention to these things, your baby will gain a lot of benefits and get exposed to various wonderful activities that will really help him develop properly! 

Until Next blog,

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References:

 Blair C, Granger DA, Willoughby M, et al. Salivary cortisol mediates effects of poverty and parenting on executive functions in early childhood. Child Development. 2011; 82(6):1970-8.

Son S, Morrison F. The nature and impact of changes in home learning environment on development of language and academic skills in preschool children. Developmental Psychology. 2010; 46(5):1103–1118.

De Cosmi V, Scaglioni S, Agostoni C. Early Taste Experiences and Later Food Choices. Nutrients. 2017;9(2):107. Published 2017 Feb 4. doi:10.3390/nu9020107

Howard-Jones P, Taylor J, Sutton L. The Effect of Play on the Creativity of Young Children During Subsequent Activity. Early Child Development and Care. August 2002:323-328. doi:10.1080/03004430212722

Rosenzweig MR, Bennett EL. Psychobiology of plasticity: effects of training and experience on brain and behavior. Behavioural Brain Research. June 1996:57-65. doi:10.1016/0166-4328(95)00216-2

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10 Toddler Gross Motor Activities and Why Obstacle Courses are the Best!

Developing gross motor skills is an essential foundation that all children need!

Gross motor skills are any movements that engage the large muscles in your body. They are the significant movements that kids begin to use regularly. We often hear a lot about fine motor skills and their importance in learning and academia. However, without strong gross motor skills, a child’s fine motor development could suffer greatly. Gross motor skills include rolling, walking, running, jumping, climbing, hopping, skipping, bending, kicking, throwing, catching, balancing, and more. 

Think about not being able to control your arm or shoulder actively and how hard it would make it to hone your fine motor skills to write a word or letter. Gross motor skills provide foundational skills for learning and developing. Kids use gross motor skills to eat, play, dress themselves, or even sit in a chair to participate in school-based activities. Needless to say, gross motor skills are grossly important (pun intended!)  

Here are ten gross motor activities for children ages 1-3 and why obstacle courses are the best gross motor activity of them all! 

(Above picture: A child doing Obstacle course activity using OT park worksheets in her Backyard.)

  1. Cleaning up

Cleaning up requires walking, reaching, bending, and squatting. All of these movements are great gross motor practice. 

  1. Catch and toss

Catch and toss is such a simple and classic game. Get the whole family involved and allow the kids to run and retrieve the ball for optimal skill building! 

  1. Water play/swimming

This activity requires adult assistance and supervision at all times to prevent drowning. However, water play is such an excellent gross motor activity and even allows your child to build strength safely by moving, playing, kicking, and splashing against the water’s resistance. 

  1. Jungle gyms

Most kids enjoy parks and outside play. Constant movement is created to run and climb, swing their legs back and forth, or even squat and bend to squeeze into tight and low spaces. The most fun part is they don’t even realize they are building foundational skills!

  1. Animal Walks

Pretend to be your child’s favorite animal, or allow them to show you how that animal moves (even if it’s wacky!) Pretend play with them and show them how to walk like a crab or hop like a frog! Have them mimic you and see which animal was their favorite!

  1. Pretend play

Layout various clothes or costumes that you have around the house, and let your child dress up and pretend to be a football player, a teacher, or even mommy or daddy! 

  1. Dancing

Put on your favorite tunes and dance it out! Dancing also builds endurance and relieves tension, stress, or anxiety.

  1. Hopscotch

The most important part of this game for kids ages 1-3 is hopping and jumping around! We aren’t looking for perfection. Allow your kid to hop and attempt to hold their balance while picking up the rock they threw. Hopscotch is such a great gross motor activity! Hop, hop, hop!

  1. Playing with bubbles

When toddlers play with bubbles, it encourages them to reach up high or squat down low. They jump and run after the bubbles to catch or pop them.

  1. Obstacle course 

Finally, we saved the best for last! Obstacle courses are such a fun and versatile way to engage your child’s gross motor skills. Obstacle courses can be made indoors or outdoors and can be super complex or straightforward. You can use household objects or purchase different items from the store! Whatever you choose, make it fun!

For example, let’s say you wanted to make a four-step obstacle course indoors. You and your child could:

  • Roll or catch a ball while sitting
  • Do crab walks
  • Dance for 3 minutes
  • Walk over four pillows that are lined up!

It’s just that simple! Get your kid’s body moving and allow them to explore! With this four-step obstacle course example, your kid just practiced reaching, sitting, standing, stomping, bending, twisting, squatting, balancing, jumping, and so much more! This is why I believe obstacle courses are the best gross motor activity!

They allow your child to build multiple gross motor skills simultaneously. There is no limit to how much your child can grow, learn, and develop.

All it takes is a little time and creativity!

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TOP 10 Sensory Activities for 2 years olds

Why Is Sensory Play Important for Children?

– Sensory is important for children because it allows them to be messy and enriches their awareness of their bodies and senses. Sensory activities can help kids focus on their experience in the present moment.

Here are 10 sensory activities for toddlers! 

1.) Slime

Kids love playing with slime, and it is so beneficial for them. It is an amazing, tactile sensory experience. Most parents aren’t fans of slime because of the mess it can make, but it’s a great sensory tool for children. Manipulating slime and measuring ingredients can strengthen fine motor skills, and experimenting with slime recipes helps kids learn about cause and effect.

Slime helps kids get in touch with almost all senses; they focus on how it feels, sounds, looks, and smells.

Benefits are:

  • Promotes mindfulness
  • Helps children focus
  • Encourages them to play independently
  • Promotes fine motor skills
  • It is calming
  • It’s portable

2.) Ice Painting

This activity allows children the opportunity to explore color mixing, patterns and to feel the texture of the slippery, cold, wet paint. It will enable your child to be creative and use their imagination. As the paint melts, they will learn how when colors mix, they make a new color.

Benefits are:

  • It helps develop fine motor skills
  • It helps develop gross motor skills & control
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Learn colors

3.) Play Dough

Playdough provides a great sensory medium, and the possibilities are limitless and will evoke your child’s imagination. The malleable properties of play dough make it fun for investigation and exploration. Playdough can be squashed, squeezed, rolled, flattened, chopped, cut, scored, raked, punctured, poked, and shredded.

Benefits are:

  • Develops Fine Motor Skills

  • Calming

  • Encourages creativity

  • Enhances Hand-eye coordination

  • Improves social skills

  • Supports literacy and numeracy

  • Promotes playtime

 

4.) Oobleck

Oobleck is a fascinating way to engage in sensory play and understand science. It is great because it is inexpensive, quick, easy, taste-safe, and so much FUN! All it takes is cornstarch and water, and it is environmentally friendly.

– Your child can drive cars through it, play with it in your hands, mix colors, dribble and paint with goop on the sidewalk or driveway, or make sudsy goop.

Benefits are:

  • Supports language development
  • Builds gross motor skills
  • Builds fine motor skills
  • Learn science concepts
  • Strengthen hand muscles

5.) Sensory Toy

A sensory toy is specially designed to stimulate one or more senses. They may also help and be appealing to children on the spectrum because they can help them remain calm and provide the sensory experience they want. Much of what young children learn is through touch and stimulation of the senses.

– Types of sensory toys are rattles, crinkly books, teething beads, toys with mirrors, sensory shapes, and activity walkers.

Benefits are:

  • Cognitive stimulation
  • Language development
  • Fine and gross motor skills
  • Social interaction
  • Calming and comforting
  • Develop a sense of awareness

6.) Finding Small Items Hidden in the Kinetic Sand 

Playdough is fantastic for encouraging imaginative play. Children love to play hide and seek and love playdough, so why not combine the two. Hidden treasure playdough is a fun way to present small toys that children can use in their imaginative playdough play.

Benefits are: 

  • Develops fine motor skills
  • Calming
  • Encourages creativity
  • Enhances hand-eye coordination
  • Improves social skills
  • Supports literacy and numeracy
  • Promotes playtime

7.) Noodle Play

Kids are designed to explore the world through their senses, and exploring sensory materials helps kids’ emotional development. This sensory activity allows children to be creative. Different noodles provide texture-related tactile sense development. Kids will love the feel of playing with noodles.

Benefits are:

  • Language development
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Cognitive function
  • Fine motor development
  • Develop creativity

8.) Color Papers Hidden in Rice

Children learn best through hands-on experiences. It can be very calming to run your hands through a textured material like rice, and it is a wonderful invitation to play and create imaginary worlds.

– Fun sensory bins with rice are rainbow sensory bin, alphabet search, and watermelon rice sensory bin.

Benefits are:

  • Develop Pincer grip
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Calming
  • Fine motor strength
  • Learn colors
  • Language skills

9.) Stamping

Creating art expands a child’s ability to interact with the world around them and provides a new set of skills for self-expression and communication. They will love creating aesthetically pleasing works and experiences.

Benefits are:

  • Fine motor skills
  • Strengthening hand muscles
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Coordination
  • Explore colors

10.) Water Beads

Water beads are soft, squishy, and smooth to touch. Children will love the feel of the water beads and will love scooping them with their hands. They are soothing to touch and look at. You can even add these to your child’s bath. Children will also love watching the water beads grow bigger.

Benefits are:

  • Fine motor skills
  • Coordination
  • Exploration
  • Learn colors
  • Promotes creativity
  • Teaches science
  • Hand-eye coordination

Unitl next Blog!

Hiral

Do you have questions such as..

  1. What activities are best for my 10 months old? or
  2. From when should I start my child’s potty training? or
  3. How to develop correct posture for handwriting and get my child ready for School? 

Anything regarding 0-8 years, you can have a Free-consult with our CEO and Award winning pediatric Occupational Therapist – Dr. Hiral Khatri. 

Do you love these ideas/activities of our blog and want more of them? You can have a box with age-appropriate activities that are developmentally correct and pediatric designed, shipped right to your door!

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IMPORTANCE OF A SCHEDULE AMONG INFANTS AND TODDLERS

Our lives as adults are filled with everyday routines that help keep us on schedule. Children also need to have predictable routines that have room for flexibility, especially infants and toddlers. 

Reasons why routines and schedules are important

  • Gives them a sense of security and stability.
  • Influences their social, emotional, and cognitive development.
  • Everyday routines can be used as teachable moments.
  • Know what is happening now and what comes next.
  • Know how to do an activity or task.
  • Engage in learning.

Young children gain an understanding of everyday events and procedures and learn what is expected of them. They can also help the child become more trusting of you as a caretaker. Children that have effective routines are more engaged with their environment and the people around them. You can use their everyday routines as opportunities to talk with your child and help them develop their communication skills.

Schedule – is the big picture and includes main activities that happen throughout the day.

Routines – the steps needed to complete each part of the schedule.

All families need some type of routine to establish normalcy. Children often fear the unknown, and change can be stressful for them. When you include meaningful and important elements into your family life, you are letting your child know what’s important.

Schedule and Routine Tips:

  • Keep it simple.
  • Break down one of your scheduled tasks into steps to create the routine.
  • Let your children help.
  • Review the schedule every morning and throughout the day.
  • Keep each day’s routine and schedule as similar as possible.
  • Be flexible.
  • Offer a choice in activities whenever possible. 

Example of Daily Routines:

 

The time to get ready in the morning.

– Mealtimes, bath times, nap times, and bedtimes.

– Housework, cooking, and cleaning schedules.

– Playtime, family time, and outdoor play.

Other Ways Your Child Will Benefit from A Schedule and Routine:

  1. Helps your child get on a schedule – Consistent routines will help your child and their’ body clocks’ with many day-to-day basics such as the ability to take naps and sleep well at night, ability to eat healthy and full meals, have regular bowel movements, have a healthy play and outdoor time, and a calm, relaxed behavior at ‘down times’ during the day.
  2. Bonds the family together – When your child knows what to expect and notices regular family activities, they begin to understand that family time is important.
  3. Establishes Expectations – When your child knows what is expected, they begin to complete tasks without issues.
  4. Creates a calmer household – The child will know what comes next; therefore, stress and anxiety are reduced.
  5. Gives your child confidence and independence – Rather than always having to tell your child what needs to happen, they will feel confident to go ahead and be in charge of themselves.
  6. Establishes healthy, constructive habits – Children who practice these skills will be able to manage their time better.
  7. Helps you remember important things – A routine helps you stay on track.
  8. Provides an opportunity for special’ daily routines’ – When you add something in like snuggling and reading, you are instilling special moments.

While there are many benefits to maintaining a routine, it is also important to remain flexible. Spontaneity and creativity are important factors in a child’s life. Every child is different, and you need to stay sensitive and adaptable to each child’s needs.

As time goes on, you will start to see what’s working and not working for the family. Remember, a routine is meant to help the family, not hinder it. Make sure it is healthy and positive for your child and other family members.

Routines and Parental Happiness

Routines help ease adults into parenthood. The early stages of becoming a parent can be overwhelming and sometimes put a strain on your marriage. Make sure to continue with your routine of a date night once a week or a special vacation spot. You can also incorporate a special ritual from your own childhood to bridge the transition from a couple to a family.

Routines provide the two key ingredients for learning: relationships and repetition. Make sure to enjoy these ‘ordinary’ moments with your child. If your child is having fun with you, they are learning too!

Do you love these ideas/activities and want more of them? You can have a box with age-appropriate activities that are developmentally correct and pediatric designed, shipped right to your door!

Or You can Book your Free Consultation with Dr Khatri.

Click the link below to get your box now!