Starfish Therapies

November 21, 2014

Should You ‘Walk’ Babies?

Filed under: Developmental Milestones — Starfish Therapies @ 5:32 pm
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beach walking

We have had some families bring this article, 9 Reasons Not to Walk Babies, to our attention.  It was generally a response to some of the things we were working on in therapy with their child, and confusion because this article to them seemed to be saying the exact opposite of what we are asking them to do.  I have to admit when I first read it I thought the author was completely wrong.  Then I took a step back and read it again.  What I realized was that the first time I read it, I was reading it with the bias of how it related to the specific child we were working with.  In actuality, what the author is promoting is independent exploration and development of the child.

I am a big proponent of allowing children the chance to independently explore and facilitate their own motor development as their bodies are ready.  Unfortunately, not all children are able to do this on their own and they need assistance with how to explore and move, and sometimes they help practicing and repeating skills, such as walking, so that they can master them.

Going back to the families that have asked about this article, the challenge was that due to busy lifestyles, other children, and ease of getting around, many of them were using carrying devices like carriers and strollers, or physically carrying or holding their child an overabundance of the time and not providing them the opportunity to explore their environment, thereby limiting their ability to figure out how their body works, trial certain movements, register the feedback, make adjustments and gradually refine their movement until they were masters of the skill.  This is the ideal way kids learn movement, opportunities to practice with trial and error.  By carrying their child everywhere, they were in fact putting the same constraints on their child as this article was attempting to steer them away from.  They weren’t allowing their child to develop at his own rate.

Its interesting that I have read two other posts that talk about the overuse of equipment in society today and how it limits children in this same way.  One was a guest post on our site about avoiding the ‘container shuffle‘, and the other was by Pink Oatmeal on baby items you don’t need.  This topic is also related to the Bumbo Chair.  Again its a convenience that can have specific benefits, but when its used to teach a child to sit before they are physiologically ready, it is not being used to the child’s benefit.  In that same way, when ‘walking’ your child is being used to teach your child to walk before they have even mastered standing, then it may be that they aren’t ready for it.

The best way you can support your child’s motor development is to give them plenty of floor time with the opportunity to explore.  Use yourself or engaging toys to motivate them to move.  If they are trying to move and getting frustrated its okay to give them a little boost, just make sure you are not always doing it for them, their is benefit to not succeeding every time, that’s how their bodies make refinements and adjustments so that they can become more efficient with their movements.

On a slightly different note, but on the same topic, for children who are already experiencing delays for one reason or another, and are engaged in therapies, the therapist may give you things to work on that are meant to support your child’s development because at that time, they are behind and they need that extra push.  If walking is one of them, its probably because your child needs your help in creating opportunities to practice the skill and learn from those trials, and they are not creating those opportunities for themselves.


November 11, 2014

Avoiding the ‘Container Shuffle’ with your Baby

Filed under: Developmental Milestones — Starfish Therapies @ 4:24 pm
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movement exploration  IMG_1734  problem solving3

Guest post by: Nicole M Sergent, MPT

As a new parent, I was there. Giddy excitement over the news of a baby on the way followed by showering love from family and friends in the form of gift, and gifts, and more gifts. At the time I was touched (and am still forever grateful for their generosity) but shortly after the baby came I quickly fell into a routine many new moms do. As a physical therapist, I like to call it, “the container shuffle.”

“The container shuffle” goes something like this. Sleep (crib), eat (highchair), play (exercsaucer), calm down (bouncer seat), sleep (crib), eat (highchair), play (positioning seat), calm down (swing) etc. As a mother, I related to the thoughts many of my patients’ parents have. Everyone buys us all this stuff…and baby likes them and is happy…so why not use them? As a therapist, I’d like to tell you why.

I can’t tell you how many children I have assessed with general motor delays without significant medical histories or orthopedic or neurologic impairments. These babies are very stable in an upright static position. They often even sit really well, without ever rolling, crawling, creeping, kneeling, or standing. After I have carefully assessed to make sure, nothing more significant is going on, I’ll delicately share my diagnosis: CONTAINER SYNDROME.

I realize it is not rocket science but think of it this way. When a baby plays on the floor, he/she has the ability to wiggle, squirm, and move. Each tiny movement that may seem insignificant is actually exercise. They are beautiful diagonally directed movements. And they are needed. Because our moving transitions from one position to another (floor to sit, sit to stand), require that motion. How can we expect a baby to be able to move and explore if we always have them strapped in a container? Research tells us that babies who spend less time on their tummies on the floor, have delayed motor skills in the first year of life.

In addition to the ability to practice motor coordination, allowing a child to play outside of a “container,” has additional benefits. Play on a baby’s tummy, aids in digestion, assists with hand eye coordination, and promotes typical skeletal development. The hips have the ability to develop into a more stable, mature position and the skull, free from pressure from resting against a surface, has freedom to develop typically. Did you know that 20% of all infants now have plagiocephaly (flattened appearance of the head/face)? While free play time may not prevent all of those cases, I believe the increase in “container syndrome,” plays a significant role.

I once attended a continuing education lecture, where the OT speaking suggested that infants should spend 80% of waking hours on the floor. As a therapist, I could see the benefit of this time well spent. As a mother, I felt myself slumping with guilt. My daughters did not spend that much time on their tummies, especially my youngest that had severe acid reflux. A practical balance must exist for families. And while I realize “containers” are helpful with a fussy baby and so that one can actually shower, I recommend promoting floor time throughout the day. I tell the parents of my patients, “If you find yourself going to put your baby down, choose the floor or pack-n-lay first.”

Many of those children I have evaluated that had delays with mobility and transition skills that I felt came from “container syndrome,” ended up catching up to typically expected gross motor milestones in just a few short weeks by allowing more free play time on the floor. It can be argued that it is not rocket science. My mother (and yours) might argue it is common sense and “what we did with you.” But in a commercialized world where more = better, maybe we do need a dash of common sense to help keep our infants happy and healthy as they develop and grow.

Nicole M. Sergent, MPT is a pediatric physical therapist and co-owner of Milestones & Miracles, LLC. She co-authored a unique developmental tool for therapists and parents that pairs detailed development with interactive play skills, called 1-2-3 Just Play With Me. It is available in digital and print and can be found at,, and select retailers. Follow Milestones and Miracles online for developmental support & fun



October 28, 2014

Some Game Ideas with a Halloween Theme

Filed under: Developmental Milestones — Starfish Therapies @ 7:00 am
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In case you need to fill some time between school and trick or treating or just want to provide some new activities for your child to explore instead of hearing them plead for just one more piece of candy, here are some ideas!

1. Play Freeze with Monster Mash: Put on everyone’s favorite Halloween tune and call out a position they have to freeze in each time you pause the music.  For example, standing on one foot, bear position, crab position, or roll up like ball, etc. It’s up to you how long to have them freeze and challenge their core muscles and balance in different positions.

2.  Pumpkin Play: If you are done with your pumpkins for decoration (and they aren’t too rotten), you can let your children explore different ways to play with them.  With smaller pumpkins, you can play bowling.  You can use any objects around the house for bowling pins, such as empty plastic bottles with a little rice in the bottom.  If they want they can even decorate the pins to go with the halloween theme.  Another idea would be to play ring toss using pumpkins that have longer stems.  You can cut rings out of cardboard or maybe you have rings from another game that you can take out and toss over to the pumpkin stem. I’m sure once you get started playing with pumpkins, your kids with think of a few to add to the list!

3.  Spider Web Challenge: Using painter’s tape, you can make a spider web on the floor inside or outside and mark off a clear start and finish.  If you have any plastic spiders around for Halloween, place them in the holes of the web scattered around or you can make spiders out of paper.  Ask your child to walk along the web (tape) while picking up the spiders along the way.  This challenges balance to walk on a narrow line as well as by having to reach down and outside the base of support for the spiders without stepping off the web.


If this sparks your creativity and you come up with other fun Halloween games we would love to hear about it! Happy Halloween!

October 22, 2014

Toys, Toys, Toys

Filed under: Developmental Milestones — Starfish Therapies @ 7:02 am
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It’s almost that time of year again! Time to brave the crowded malls and search for the perfect gift for the children we love. One of the biggest questions we get as pediatric therapists, is what can we get them that will help their motor skills. For those of you still searching, here is a list of ideas of toys and games that are not only great gift ideas, but can also help your kids develop their fine and gross motor skills while playing.


1)   Baby Einstein Play Gym: For your newborns. A play gym is a great way to encourage play and exploration while laying on their back or their tummy. While lying on their back, different items can encourage children to kick and reach overhead or across their body to eventually encourage motor skills like rolling. The play gym can also encourage tummy time, which will help build neck and trunk extensor strength, scapular stability in their shoulders, endurance to further progress their motor skills towards getting onto hands and knees and crawling.
2)    Play tent with a tunnel: Tents with tunnels can encourage crawling and bilateral coordination. Crawling through the tunnel into the tent will allow your child to practice weight shifting and using a reciprocal crawling pattern, build their core strength, develop the arches in their hands, and play in quadruped and tailor sitting in the tent.
3)    Push Toy: A push toy is a great gift for a kiddo who already pulling to stand and cruising and starting to explore learning how to walk. You can try the shopping cart and wagon type push toys if your child likes to transport their toys with them or once that converts to a sit and ride toy if they just can’t wait to get on that bike.
4)    Learning Table: A learning table is a great toy for way to encourage your child to get upright. You can practice playing in a tall kneel, a ½ kneel, or pulling to stand through a ½ kneel and standing. The lights, songs, numbers and letters on the tabletop provide motivation for your child rise to a new level and begin working on upright motor skills. You can place it against a wall or in a corner if your child needs a little more stability or in the middle of the room if they are learning to stand with a little less stability.
5)    Hippity Hops: A ball with handles is a great way to help your child build coordination, balance, and strength. You child will have to use their core and leg strength in order to bounce and maintain their balance while hopping on the ball. A hippity hop can also provide great vestibular and proprioceptive input with the bouncing for the kiddos who are seeking out more sensory input.
6)    Sturdy Birdy by Fat Brain Toy Co: This game is a fun and exciting game to work on kid’s balance, coordination and core strength. If your child is having trouble with single leg balance tasks such as skipping and hop scotch, this game provides them with the opportunity to work on this task. By balancing on one leg, not only are they practicing the motor task, but they are building strength in their hips and core musculature that will allow them to continue to progress in their gross motor development.
7)    Step 2 Folding Slide: This slide is a perfect toy that can be used in doors or out doors. It allows your child to build leg strength and core strength and develop the skills necessary to walk up stairs. Climbing up the ladder provides kids with practice of the same motor pattern and strengthening of specific leg muscles that are used to walk up stairs, with extra support from the rails. Sliding down the slide can also help build core and trunk musculature to maintain or improve postural control and balance.
8)    Super Skipper: The super skipper is a great way to help your child practice timing and grading of jumping skills. By jumping to different songs at different speeds, kiddo’s can develop their jumping skills to progress to more advanced gross motor skills, such as hop scotch and jump roping.
9)    Giant Piano Mat: This is a fun way to practice more jumping skills and balance activities. Your child can work on single leg balance, single leg hopping, walking on tiptoes and jumping while building their creative and musical skills. This is also a great way to work on coordination skills. With prerecorded songs, your child can practice specific steps to a song.
10) Sensory stepping stones: Each stepping stone has a different texture that will provide new tactile input to your child’s feet or hands by crawling, walking, jumping or hopping onto each stone. Not only can kid’s work on their balance and gross motor activities, but they can also get sensory input.
11) Scooter board or skateboard: This is a great way for kiddos to work on upper extremity, core and trunk strength. Your child can lie on their belly on the board as they use their arms to pull themselves along the floor. Not only are they using their arm muscles but also engaging their core and trunk extensors to keep their head and body up on the board.
12) Side walk chalk: Sidewalk chalk is a great tool to work on all sorts of gross motor activities. You can draw a hopscotch grid to work on single leg hopping, coordination and balance. If the kiddo is not comfortable with single leg hopping yet, try practicing the hopscotch with two feet. Have them practice jumping with their feet apart and then feet together to work on coordinating movements, then once they have mastered that pattern, slowly practice switching from two legs to one and then one legs to two. You can draw different items on the ground and practice jumping on them or create a start and finish line of a race to work on running. The visual cue of different colors or drawings on the sidewalk can help kiddos focus better on the task that they are attempting.
13) Nubby ball: This is a great way to work on ball skills, such as throwing, catching and kicking. The texture can also provide sensory input to those kiddos who are seeking more tactile input as well. The increased tactile input could also help their awareness when attempting catching and gripping. For more advanced kids practicing ball skills can be great for single leg balance and coordinating movements of arms and legs. As kids get older, they can begin to build interests in certain sports.
14) Kinetic Sand: It feels like sand, but is not nearly as messy to clean up. Kinetic Sand helps improve tactile awareness, and fine motor skills. Kids can squeeze it and shape it to build different items and let their creativity bloom. The feeling of the sand can provide children with new tactile input that can decrease stress and allow for improved exploration to different tactile surfaces. The squishy material can also help improve fine motor skills, allowing kids to build their hand musculature and gripping techniques by forming different size structures.
15) Constructive Eating plate and Utensil Set: For those picky eaters. The 3-piece utensil set includes a bulldozer pusher, front loader spoon and forklift fork with textured handles that are easy to grip. The plate has ramps and parking spaces for food and utensils. This is a great gift to help engage children with their eating, as well as work on their fine motor skills of gripping and grasping and using their utensils to access food.


Happy Shopping!

October 17, 2014

Posture Tips for Parents and Caregivers

Filed under: Developmental Milestones — Starfish Therapies @ 2:00 pm
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wheelbarrow kiddo

We thought we would take a moment to share some posture tips for parents and caregivers to help prevent injury or overuse during day-to-day activities when caring for a young child. For additional information and a video demonstration on some of these techniques, please visit this link.

1. Lifting your child: Whether lifting your child off of the floor or out of their crib, you want to make sure you avoid lifting with your back and instead lift with you legs.

  • When lifting a child from the floor, the easiest way to do so would be to place one foot in front of the other and then bend your hips and knees until you are in a kneeling position on one knee (half kneel). Make sure you keep your back straight! Once in the kneeling position, lift your child up with both hands and bring them close to your body. From there, hold your abdominal muscles tight, and use your legs to bring yourself back into a standing position.
  • When lifting a child from their crib, you want to lower the rail as low as it will go. You’ll want to bend at your hips and knees to perform a mini squat, almost as if you were pretending to sit down in a chair. Make sure your back stays straight! Then, pick up your child with both hands and bring them close to your body. Then straighten your hips and knees and return to a standing position while keeping your abs tight. To place them in their crib, you’ll want to use the same ‘mini squat’ technique.

2. Pushing a stroller: When pushing a stroller, you want to avoid letting the stroller get too far ahead of you, as that will cause you to hunch forwards at your shoulders and upper back. Try and keep your back straight and use your entire body to generate the momentum needed to push the stroller forwards, not just your arms!

3. Carrying or holding your child: Try and avoid carrying your child with one arm and balanced on your hip. If this position is an absolute necessity, make sure you switch sides. This position causes certain muscles to lengthen on one side of the body, while other muscles on the opposite side of the body tighten, putting you at risk for postural asymmetries and potentially leading to pain.

September 2, 2014

Accessible Beaches

Filed under: Uncategorized — Starfish Therapies @ 9:08 pm
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surf chair 1 surf chair 2

I was recently back in my home town in NJ and spent the day on the beach.  I was impressed as I saw multiple people being pushed down in ‘surf chairs’.  I thought it was great that so many families took the time to get chairs that would allow their loved ones to access the beach.  Imagine my surprise and delight when at the end of the day I was packing my stuff up and saw that these chairs were provided by the beach!  I went home and looked it up and not only does the beach provide them, but they are free of charge.  Its just recommended that you make a donation.

I would love to hear about other beaches in other parts of the country that have programs like this.

August 11, 2014

Tummy Time – More Than Just a Buzz Word (A Blog Hop)

Filed under: Developmental Milestones — Starfish Therapies @ 10:00 am
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Tummy Time Therapy Blogger Blog Hop

Is Tummy Time Important A Therapy Blogger Blog HopBelow you will find all the posts in the Tummy Time therapy blogger blog hop. So many great ideas and thoughts on tummy time from Occupational Therapist and Physical Therapists.

The Importance of Tummy Time for Babies – Golden Reflections Blog

Tummy Time & Baby’s First Year - The Recycling OT

How to Use a Therapy Ball to Make Tummy Time Easier and More Fun for Baby – Mama OT

5 Awesome Toys for Tummy Time! – The Inspired Treehouse

Terrific Tummy Time Positions – Your Kids OT

Tips For Tummy Time From A Physical Therapist - Pink Oatmeal

Tummy Time : The Basics - Therapy Fun Zone

Tummy Time: Developmental Consequences & Future Implications - Tools to Grow, Inc.

Tummy Time Tips - Pedatric OT Tips

Tummy Time Just Isn’t For Babies – Your Therapy Source

Tummy Time – More Than Just A Buzz Word – Starfish Therapies

Tummy Time Never Gets Old – Playapy Platform

Tummy Time has become a common phrase in the last decade or so as a result of the NICHD Back to Sleep Campaign.  Prior to this time most parents put their children to sleep on their stomachs so Tummy Time was never an issue.  Now, with children sleeping on their backs they are spending 12 or more hours a day (if a parent is lucky and their child sleeps that much) on their backs which used to be devoted to time on their stomach.

And, in my opinion, another factor is the rise of innovative baby equipment that has been produced to make some aspects of parenting easier.  I know as a baby sitter I loved having the car seat that clicked into the car and then clicked into the stroller, or even the bouncy seats.  As a therapist I now see how all that equipment was taking away from time the child could have been equipment free, exploring their body and environment.

I’m not saying get rid of all equipment or put your child to sleep on their stomach, but I think its important to make sure you are balancing things out.  For instance, if you went to the gym and lifted weights, and only used your right side, you would be disproportionately strong on one side.  This is the same for infants.  When they are on their back, they are working the muscles on the front side of their body (abs, neck flexors, hip flexors) and learning how to lift them against gravity so that they are getting stronger.  However, the muscles on the back side of their body are getting forgotten about.  Those include their back extensors, neck extensors and gluts (tush muscles).  The muscles on both sides of their body are important to their gross motor development as they learn new skills and move through the developmental milestones.

Some of the benefits of Tummy Time are:

  • Improved head control – ability to hold their head stable so that they can observe the world
  • Improved trunk control – ability to hold their body stable so they can begin to sit on their own and develop balance reactions
  • Stretching – After 9 months in the womb, babies have tight muscles on the front of their body and by being on their stomach they are naturally stretching out so that they can begin to balance out the front and back of their bodies.  In addition, the more time they spend in carriers and other pieces of equipment, it keeps them in a slightly flexed position.
  • Decreased chance of developing plagiocephaly – This is when they develop a flat spot on their head.  Some babies get it in the back or on the side of their head.  This is because the back of their skull is still ‘soft’ and when they have decreased neck strength to move their head, they often lie with their head in one position so it flattens out in that area.  When spending time on their belly, the facial muscles are firm and less likely to flatten out/deform.  It also gives the back of their head a break from constant contact with a surface.
  • Hip development – When babies are born their femurs (thigh bones) are rotated.  Natural development allows a derotation to happen as their gluts get stronger and place a pull on their bones.  While on their belly, they are naturally developing their glut strength by activating their trunk and leg muscles against gravity.  This promotes the natural development that is supposed to occur!
  • Arm strength – While on their tummy, babies begin to experiment with pushing up on their arms which develops their upper extremity strength as well as eventually leads into rolling over and further exploration of their environment and movement.  This is also a precursor to crawling as they learn how to coordinate their arm use.

Tummy Time

These are just a few of the reasons why I like tummy time.  I know it isn’t easy to find time in busy days but I also look at it as ways to get down on the same level as your baby and interact with them.  You can even get some good ‘face time’ in!



July 30, 2014

Feeding is (can be) Fun for Everyone!

Filed under: Developmental Milestones — Starfish Therapies @ 7:00 am
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Whether it’s someone who would rather eat macaroni and cheese 365 days a year than try something green, someone who’s idea of an exotic meal is a PB&J with crunchy Jif or someone who just doesn’t like the look of most foods, everyone knows at least one picky eater. Most finicky feeders are choosiest during childhood and grow out of their habits and into healthy, well-nourished adults over time. While it’s comforting to know that there is likely light at the end of the tunnel, having a picky eater can be stressful for the entire family.

Mealtime, considered by many to be a relaxing highlight of the day, often becomes a time of strained patience and stubborn resolve on both sides of the spoon. Parents waver between keeping the peace around the table and ensuring that their child does not consist on chicken nuggets alone and children begin to dread dinnertime like a chemistry test. This scenario is not uncommon. Picky eaters are prevalent and more often than not are able to become more adventurous eaters as they get older. In the meantime, there are ways to make mealtimes a little more bearable for everyone involved. Food can indeed be fun.

Exposure is Everything:

Many choosy feeding habits are derived from some kind of fear. Whether it’s a flavor, texture or smell issue, something about these ‘no way’ foods is scary to our picky eater. The best way to get over these fears is through many small, repeated interactions with these foods, no matter how low-key. Consistently serve picky eaters a very tiny portion of every ‘family food’ at meals whenever possible. Make it clear to the child that they do not need to eat the food, but they are expected to tolerate it on the plate. From here more challenging interactions with food can be encouraged (smelling, touching, kissing etc.)

Play is Placating:

Playing with food is often the first step in eliminating fear. Create messy activities involving some less-favored foods that focus solely on getting the child to interact with what they normally do not eat. Put some food coloring in yogurt and finger paint, make shapes out of wet noodles, find ways to make the food about the activity and not about the eating. Should some spontaneous snacking occur, fantastic!

Start Small:

Try to build bridges to new foods based on what your child already enjoys. If they enjoy raw apples, consider other crunchy sweet fruits like pears or melon. The leap from chicken nuggets to smoked salmon is probably too overwhelming, but fish sticks might be manageable. Remember that these changes, while humble to onlookers, are huge for kids.

Variety Variety Variety:

One common side effect of picky eating is ‘food jagging’, tiring of and eliminating foods that are eaten too often. It happens to all of us, but it can be particularly dangerous for picky eaters who already have a limited diet. Encourage your child to help make their favorite foods a bit different every day. Maybe cut fruits up in a different way, add some food coloring, or sprinkle on a little cheese. These small changes can be the difference between keeping a food in the repertoire and kicking it to the curb.

Patience and Practice: Growing into a more adventurous eater is a long process. The fears and aversions that children have developed have been ingrained for years, and breaking these habits will take time. Consistently making an effort to slowly challenge these fears will indeed pay off.

July 23, 2014

Sensory Options at Home

Filed under: Developmental Milestones — Starfish Therapies @ 2:11 pm
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crash pad

There are kids out there that seek out rough play because it feels good to them. Examples would be crashing to the ground, wrestling, running into friends/adults, and/or just doing many things throughout the day with a greater amount of force. To register touch input they often seek it out in a way that seems to us like it may hurt. They have a higher pain tolerance and are more likely to cry from a scratch that they can see, than a bruise from crashing to the ground onto their knees. What follows is some ideas that you can have on hand to provide them with some deeper input to decrease them seeking it out throughout the day.


Lycra Tunnel: This is basically lycra material sewed into a tunnel (it does have some stretch to it). Have the kids crawl through on hands and knees while you hold one end. It’s going to give them resistance as they go through. For increased resistance have them push a therapy ball through that fits in the tunnel with them.


Therapy ball: You can bounce or roll your child on top of the ball. You can also roll it on top of them and pretend your rolling them out like dough. You can ask them if you are doing it hard enough. Kids will typically want a good amount of pressure if they are input seekers.


Mini Trampoline or Pile of Pillows/Crash Pad: A mini trampoline if you have access to one can be beneficial in giving lots of heavy input to feet and bodies. If you don’t have this, setting up a pile of pillows, couch cushions, or things that are soft in general can work as well. You can allow your kids a safe place to run and crash so that they are not doing it on the ground or into walls or friends.  You can also make a crash pad out of high density foam pieces and a comforter cover!


Heavy Blanket: Have them crawl underneath and all the way through and playing a game with it (ex. bring all of the puzzle pieces through). You can also roll them up like a burrito, depending on their tolerance for this, but it does give a good amount of input if you roll them tighter. If they like to move, you can have them transition the blanket from place to place and carry toys in it as well to add some weight.


Household Chores: Have the kids help with heavy carrying or moving. Let them know the laundry basket is too heavy and you need their help in moving it. Pushing the vacuum can be another good one, as well as pushing/moving furniture.


You are replacing your child’s ‘crash’ seeking behaviors with more purposeful and safe activities throughout their day. Teaching them safe ways to get the input they need will hopefully cut back on the amount they are seeking through peers or when not in ideal situations. You can teach them to ask for some of these activities to replace the other unsafe behaviors as well so that they become more independent with accessing these tools. Trying to decrease this behavior all together would be difficult for both the child and yourself since it’s something they feel their body needs. Instead, giving them options to increase their safety, but still access the input they seek, will in the end benefit both of you.

July 18, 2014

Playground Play

Filed under: Developmental Milestones — Starfish Therapies @ 6:47 pm
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Playground Play

I was browsing through instagram a while ago and saw this great photo (above) of my friends’ son playing.  It immediately reminded me (not that I needed much reminding) why I love playgrounds for kids!

Besides just giving kids the opportunity to run around, play and explore, when I am working with a kiddo at a playground I am almost never at a loss for things to do.  Depending on their age and skill level, here are just a few things you can do with kids at a playground:

  • Climbing -  There is climbing for all ages (even the non walkers).  You can use stairs to go up and down, although on a play structure its always easier to get kids to go up, much harder to convince them not to go down the slide!  Stairs can be crawled on or walked on.  For the walkers there are generally railings that allow early walkers to practice with some stability or for the more advanced they can try it without hands!  There are also almost always an array of ladders to climb.  What’s great about playground ladders is they come in all shapes and sizes.  There are standard ladders, there are twisty ones, there are rope nets, even ones I like to call rainbow ladders.  With this large variety kids get a chance to practice their motor planning and problem solving with regards to navigating the ladder.  To summarize, climbing is great for glut (tush muscles) and core strengthening, working on reciprocal movements and motor planning/coordination.
  • Monkey Bars – Monkey bars or even the bar above the slide (like in the picture above) are great for hanging on!  Kids can work on their shoulder/shoulder blade strength and stability – which help improve their fine motor skills, as well as their core strength.  When they begin to traverse monkey bars they learn how to generate momentum and movement while maintaining stability.  It also gives kids an opportunity to play around with different grips and get immediate feedback for strength and control.  Lastly, kids can play with acrobatics and hang upside down and pull themselves up so they are sitting on the bars.  All of this helps body awareness, problem solving, coordination, etc.
  • Swings – Swings are not only fun, they let your child increase their vestibular input, work on the coordination of their legs and trunk moving to keep the swinging motion going, and core strength.  Not only are kids excited when they learn how to make themselves swing, but it also means less time for you to stand around and push them!  In addition, just learning how to get onto the swing by themselves takes balance, coordination and problem solving.  For the little kiddos being pushed in the swing, they are getting opportunities to work on head control and trunk control during movement.

What are your favorite things about playground play?

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