Car Seat Safety

There are many considerations when providing the best care for your baby. We think constantly of how we can help our babies learn, grow, and explore. From what toys to play with, or just how to get out of the house some days.  Possibly one of the most important factors in your baby’s life something you use almost every day-their car seat. There has been much discussion lately about what is the best way to keep a baby safe in the car. Milestone Therapy decided to do some research into what is the safest way to position your baby in a car seat. Below you will find answers to some frequently asked questions regarding car seat safety.

Q: How long should baby stay rear facing?

A: As long as possible!

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing seat until they are at least two years of age or, preferably, until they reach the highest weight and/or height allowed by their car seat manufacturer. 

Furthermore, one study found that children under the age of two years old are 75% less likely to sustain serious or fatal injuries when they are in a rear facing seat. This is regardless of direction of crash. 

Also, don’t worry if your baby’s legs are getting a little too long, it is perfectly safe to have them folded at the base of the car seat. It is rare for a baby to sustain injury to the legs in the event of a crash.

This video demonstrates why it is important to keep your baby rear facing as long as possible. Rear facing allows for support to the neck and spine which forward facing does not.

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Q: How Do I know what kind of car seat to buy?

A: There’s an App for that!

But it costs money…so just go to this website for free. You can put in your baby’s age, height, and weight and you will be presented with the different types of car seats that may benefit your child. From there you can compare until you reach your decision.

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Q: How do I know if my seat is installed correctly?

A: Find a certified agency to check the fit and installation.

Usually any local fire station can assist you with ensuring the right fit. You can also go to this website and put in your location to find certified agencies near you.

It’s also a good idea for expecting parents to install car seats and have them checked right before baby’s arrival. It is not uncommon for a car seat to be installed incorrectly after baby’s arrival just because of time restraints and overall excitement of such a big life event!

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Q: Is it safe to have a used car seat?

A: Yes, but only if you absolutely need to, and there are some rules you should follow.  

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, you should not use a car seat that is more than ten years old. If you do purchase a used car seat, make sure it has a manufacturer’s label on it. 

  • Do not use a car seat that is over 10 years old. 
  • Always buy a seat that has a manufacturer’s label, otherwise you can’t check for recalls and user manuals. 
  • Don’t buy a used car seat with cracks in the frame. It may have been damaged in a crash.
  • Don’t use a car seat with missing parts. 

Q: What if the straps don’t fit after putting on a winter jacket?

A: Put coats and jackets on OVER straps and buckles. Putting jackets on underneath buckles and straps is unsafe because it can cause slippage, and then your child is no longer secure in their seat. Read more here

Now that you’ve got safety covered, let’s look at the fun stuff – toys! Check out one of our latest blogs all about TOYS!

Early Intervention Initial Evaluation: What to expect and how to prepare

A child is typically referred for an Early Intervention (EI) Initial Evaluation to look further into any concerns with overall development a pediatrician, parent or other specialist may have. The initial evaluation is done to determine whether or not the child qualifies for therapies through the EI program and can be a helpful tool in giving some parent suggestions to assist a child in maximizing their overall developmental potential even if they do not qualify for services. The process can seem intimidating but shouldn’t be! This post will attempt to outline the initial evaluation for the parent/caregiver and help demystify the process step-by-step.

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Step 1: Intake Meeting with the Service Coordinator

Each child upon being referred to EI is assigned a Service Coordinator. This person will explain the EI process in detail and assist the family each step of the way through initial evaluation to finding providers if the child qualifies. Any questions the parent has about the process (insurance, eligibility, finding providers, etc) will be answered at the intake meeting.

Step 2: Initial Evaluation/Assessment

At the initial evaluation, specialized therapists will come to the home to assess the child’s development in a number of areas. Each team will consist of a therapist that looks at overall development as well as a number of other therapists based on need that can include:

  • Developmental therapist: looks at overall development as well as cognitive/play skills/social emotional development
  • Physical therapist: looks at gross motor development
  • Occupational therapist: looks at fine motor development and sensory processing
  • Speech therapist: looks at communication and feeding skills
  • Nutritionist: looks at diet intake
  • Social Worker: looks at family dynamics/addresses behaviorial concerns/financial need

During the initial evaluation, the parent/caregiver will have an opportunity to express any concerns they might have as related to their child’s development. The team of therapists will ask questions related to birth/medical history and observe the child at play. They will then conduct play-based evaluations in which they will assess the child’s specific skills during a number of tasks and identify areas of developmental need, if any.

Step 3: Eligibility Meeting/IFSP

After the evaluation of the child is complete, the team of therapists will review all findings with the parents and discuss the child’s performance in each area. If any areas of developmental need are identified and the child is found eligible for therapies, an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) is written. The IFSP outlines exactly what therapies would be beneficial for the child and at what frequency they should be provided. Together with the parent/caregiver, goals will be written for the child in each area of need that is included in the IFSP as well. The coordinator will then discuss details of finding a therapist/scheduling with the family.

Tips to Prepare:

While not a requirement, there are things that a parent/caregiver can do proactively to ensure that the evaluation runs smoothly/best addresses their needs:

  • Locate all medical documents/past evaluations from birth on: having these on hand can assist the providers in taking medical history and ensuring that they have the most detailed background in assessing the child
  • Make a list of questions/concerns you may have ahead of time: it can be easy to forget concerns you may have during the evaluation, try to keep a list handy so that you don’t forget them while the therapists are present
  • Make a list of developmental milestones/words your child has achieved: the therapists will want to know when your child has achieved major developmental milestones and what words, if any, they are saying (verbally or signing) in order to get a better overall picture of the child
  • Schedule the initial evaluation at a time best for your child: try to schedule the initial evaluation at a time when your child will be the most available to actively play. This may mean scheduling around naptime and/or around feeding schedule so that the therapists can get a good picture of your child at their best

If you are in need of early intervention and are in Indiana, please click here to find your way to your local CFC for Indiana.

If you are in need of early intervention and are in Illinois, please click here to find your way to your local CFC for Illinois.

If you have been wait-listed for early intervention services, please call us direct at
(219) 513-8311 to reach a specialist at either one of our Illinois or Indiana offices right away. Let’s take advantage of the most important developmental time for your child together
 and see if one of our clinics might have an opening that can help you start sooner than later.

Toys Should Be FUN!

Spring and Summer birthdays are coming fast, which means that parents will soon be asking pediatric therapists, “What toys are best for my child?”

Before discussing the value of play, relationships, and quality toys, we should first discuss what toys represent. We must be clear that no toy, game, or activity can make children smarter or solve developmental problems. Toys are tools that can be helpful to facilitate development.

The purpose of a toy is to stimulate imagination, exploration, critical thinking, but most of all, they should be FUN!  Children do not need a great number of toys and, in fact, are often overwhelmed by too many toys.

I often advise parents of young children to keep it simple. I recommend sticking to the 5 Bs:

  • Balls: all shapes, sizes, types. I love any toys that features a ball going in one place and out another. Recommended toys include marble runs, gumball machines, tactile balls, auditory balls, sports.   

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  • Babies: pretend play props, including dolls, stuffed animals, action figures, Little People, cars, kitchens, play food, etc.
  • Boxes: we all know the kids love boxes. Playing with boxes stimulates early math concepts, creativity, imagination, and critical thinking. Let them play with boxes, you’ll be amazed at what they create.

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  • Books: Read a book a day, preferably more.  Encourage older children to practice reading by reading to younger children. Avoid any book that has batteries; the children will only push the buttons and will not gain literacy.
  • Blocks: big, little, legos, duplos, hard, magnetic, soft. Block play facilitates critical thinking, math, imagination, creativity, and so much more.

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The 5 Bs are a good starting point, but there are many good toys and activities that children of all ages will enjoy. Play-doh, paint, and tactile activities are wonderful opportunities for play, as are gross motor toys, such as bicycles, ride-on toys, tunnels, and swings.

For many years I recommended that parents avoid the sixth B: batteries. I felt that time spent with electronic toys limited imagination and that screen time was passive learning.

I was wrong.

I have recently been rethinking my approach to technology in play after recognizing that some children use technology as a protective barrier that makes them feel safe enough to interact with others. I now realize that tech toys can be useful learning tools and can be used to facilitate interaction. The key is to be sure to use them together in an interactive way.

While some electronic toys are expensive wastes of money, there are some that are wonderful means of learning. There are many electronic toys that claim to teach letters, numbers, colors, and shapes that children just push buttons and quickly lose interest (I’m looking at you, Vtech). But there are some unique robotics toys that encourage higher order thinking, mapping, and even coding. Early childhood educators are taught that young children are process-oriented, rather than product-oriented, yet many early childhood projects are geared toward the product. Children learn from the process, not the product. New technology toys and products promote technology as a whole body experience and the projects are tangible. Projects have more meaning to children when they design them themselves. Be aware, however, some of these cool new gadgets are pricey.

Before providing a list of recommended toys, I remind you that relationships are the cornerstone of all learning.

“No matter how helpful computers are as tools (and of course they can be very helpful tools), they don’t begin to compare in significance to the teacher-child relationship, which is human and mutual. A computer can help you learn to spell H.U.G., but it can never know the risk or the joy of actually giving or receiving one.”–Fred Rogers, 1994

Recommended toys that fit into the 5B’s mentioned above that have found their way into my sessions or cart in the past year or so:  

For Younger Children

Bubbles
  • Great for requesting, visual tracking, motor skills, and oral motor practice
Brio trains and tracks
  • Representational play, social skills, early concepts, critical thinking

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Felt board activities
  • Language, literacy, creativity, fine motor

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Gearations
  • Concept development, reasoning, sequencing, social skills, fine motor
Tent
  • Motor development, early concepts, imagination, language, sequencing
Swing
  • Sensory regulation, language, social skills, motor skills
Tunnels
  • Motor skills, social skills, sensory processing, can be used for obstacle course

All Ages

Board games
  • Sequencing, social skills, learning to play by rules, academic concepts, reasoning, communication
Bikes (ride-on toys, tricycles, bicycles)
  • Motor development, social skills
Legos. All the legos.
  • Fine motor skills, representational play, language development, mathematics, academics, creativity, social skills, critical thinking, reasoning, physics

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Puzzles
  • Just one or two peg puzzles. Don’t spend a great deal because they will lose pieces and will lose interest once they’ve mastered them. Jigsaw puzzles will last longer.
Action figures
  • Imagination, creativity, language development, social skills
Matchbox cars and those awesome tracks
  • Representational play, social skills, early concepts, critical thinking, physics
Pokemon cards
  • Social skills, creativity, critical thinking, reasoning
Magnet blocks
  • Critical thinking, creativity, concept development, fine motor
Puppets
  • Imagination, language, literacy, creativity
Tangrams
  • Concept development, mathematics, reasoning, fine motor

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Slime
  • Tactile exploration, reasoning, creativity, imagination, communication
Kinetic sand
  • Tactile exploration, reasoning, creativity, imagination, communication
Play-Doh
  • Tactile exploration, reasoning, creativity, imagination, communication
Musical instruments
  • Auditory processing, creativity, language, mathematics
Dress up clothes
  • Imagination, creativity, language, social skills, fine motor

Technology

Snap circuits
  • Critical thinking,  reasoning, electricity

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Meccano MAX robot
  • Critical thinking, coding, reasoning, social skills
Minecraft
  • Critical thinking, coding, reasoning, social skills
Kano pixel kit
  • Critical thinking, reasoning, social skills
Hexbugs
  • Critical thinking, reasoning, social skills, creativity
Wonder Workshop Dash Robots
  • Some are designed for preschoolers
  • Coding, reasoning, social skills

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Tomo Robot Kit
  • Construction, fine motor, critical thinking, problem solving

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Kamigami Lima Robot Kit
  • Coding, fine motor, critical thinking

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Cubetto
  • Wooden coding toy for preschoolers. No screen involved.

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Robot Turtles

  • Preschool programming toy

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Think and Learn Code a Pillar

  • A preschool programming toy

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Check out our Facebook page to see more tips and tricks and back to the blog in the near future!