Is My Baby On Track? Advice From A Pediatric OT

So you are wondering about your little one. From the moment your baby is born you will wonder and worry at times if they are developing ‘on schedule’. Should he be pulling to stand? She can’t it up without support yet, is that supposed to be accomplished already? My baby doesn’t seem to roll over yet! On and on it goes. The accomplishment of developmental milestones brings joy and a sigh of relief and then the wondering starts again about the next ‘thing’ on the developmental list.

Maybe as a new parent you don’t know what your child should be doing and that is what your concern is! Your past experience has not put you in close contact with babies or children of any age and you are feeling lost. As families become more complex, or have to move away for work from family and elder role models, and experience the isolation due to public health restrictions, it has become increasingly hard to even have contact with friends who have children to guide us as parents.

Developmental Milestones: What is a parent to do?

First of all take a deep breath and enjoy what your child IS doing! No matter where they are on their developmental milestones path, your child is a wonderful human being and they delight and respond when caring adults are loving and encouraging with them! Take another deep breath if you are feeling lost as to knowing what your child should be doing –there are plenty of great resources at hand to guide you along this parenting path. So in a nutshell BREATHE and LOVE your child. Those baby snuggles don’t last forever!

Enjoy every snuggle while it lasts! Photo credit: Brooke B.

To guide you on your way to learning more about typical child development and how to encourage your little one along, take advantage of community resources for families and parents. A good place to start is your public library! Not only can you take out on loan reliable books and magazines on the latest parenting advice, but the staff can also point you to many other community resources including using the Library internet to find information about locations, programs and services offered in your area. Often, the Library itself will have drop in free programs for Parents and Tots that offer stories and activities that you can model at home.

Public library story time is a great experience for baby and parents! Photo Credit: Caitlin M.

Other common and reliable resources are listed below. For example the Family Resource Networks in Alberta offer the Ages and Stages Questionnaire for parents. This is a great initial tool for learning where your child is at in their developmental milestones, but also the next steps and stages to be looking for in your child.

Ask for help from pros for you and baby

The next step is to make sure to attend or arrange regularly scheduled appointments with your family doctor or pediatrician. Some provinces have Well Baby appointments at Public Health or Community Health Centers at regular intervals. These appointments are your opportunity to ask any questions that you may have. Ask LOTS of questions! Write questions or concerns on a list you keep on the fridge; or make notes on your phone in between appointments so that you can just hand them to the nurse or doctor. Do not be afraid to ask, ask and ask again! It is the job of these professionals to know all the ins and outs of childhood development and to pass that knowledge on to parents-no one expects you to be the expert!

Public health and well baby visits are great opportunities to check on your baby’s health and development! Photo credit: Toni S.

You ARE however, the expert of your own child! Be honest in answering the questions the Dr. or nurse asks of you so that you can have an open honest conversation about what is best for your child. During these visits either ask to record the conversation on your phone (you have to ask for their permission to do this) or have the professional write the answers down for you! Most often they will have handouts or pamphlets with information that you can take home. Gather these and read them and keep them handy to refer back to often. Make sure to follow through with any referrals or follow up sessions that are made.

Once you are more aware of your child’s development it can really shine a light on what your little one is accomplishing every day in little ways, and tame the worry to help you enjoy the fleeting moments of those baby snuggles and gooey toddler hugs!

Other Resources on Developmental Milestones:

Canadian Pediatric Society – https://www.caringforkids.cps.ca/handouts/behavior-and-development/your_childs_development

Family Resource Network/Parent Link – https://www.frfp.ca/parent-link-centres/

Parent Central – https://parentcentral.sk.211.ca/

Assessing and supporting your Child’s Development – https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/managing-your-health/child-behaviour-development/assessing-child-development


Have a question you’d like to ask a pediatric OT? Leave it in the comments below!


About the Author

Kelly Harrison-Miles BSc. O.T.

As a Mom to three boys, I know the wondering and worrying and the joys of growing kids first hand. Now all in their teen years (my fridge door is never closed) and each is navigating his own way in this COVID world (reluctantly listening to their parents as teenagers typically do), this Momma is still wondering and worrying if they are learning the skills they will need to be competent adults!! As a Pediatric Occupational Therapist, I know ‘typical development’. I have spent years assessing children’s developmental milestones in clinic, home and school settings. I know and have seen many times over how caring and engaged adults can guide and enhance a child’s developmental path every day in daily routines and daily activities. The key is first knowing and then doing!


Fitness for People with Kids

Hey there! Yes, you. I know what you are thinking “I should workout. I need to figure out how to get in shape.” Focusing on fitness after kids is hard. I am with you.

Photographer: Boxed Water Is Better | Source: Unsplash

I have two tiny humans who need me 24/7 and a mom pooch that won’t budge. Now, I love my body. I am so proud of the body that has created two kids from scratch, carried them, and fed them for years.

My biggest issue is not the mom pooch, it’s my energy levels. I feel heavy and sluggish and just slow. I get so tired so quickly when I play with my kids. I hate it. I hate the feeling of just wanting to sit all day long.

Photographer: elizabeth lies | Source: Unsplash

I feel the desperate need to work on my fitness for strength and stamina.

Let me share my tricks on how I get 30-40 minutes to fit in a workout while my kids are awake and running.

My first tip before anything is make sure you are ready at all times. I live my life in workout clothes. I wake up and throw it on so if I have the opportunity to exercise, I don’t have to waste time getting dressed.

Photographer: Alex Shaw | Source: Unsplash

1. Throw some snacks and TV at them

Put them in a stroller, wagon, bike trailer, anything that will contain them and give them some snacks. Put your headphones in and go on that run, walk, bike. I promise you can do it. Don’t fuss about toys and entertainment. Go with easy and fast. I make my workout a priority now and give my kids each a tablet to play with so I can get 30 minutes of uninterrupted exercise.

Photographer: Emily Wade | Source: Unsplash

I feel so good after and my kids are so happy that they got TV. Do not feel guilty about this. I know how easy it is to get caught up in what you think you should do but throw all that out the window for those 30 minutes and focus on you. Make your needs #1. Moms deserve happiness too.

Smiling Family
Photographer: Edward Cisneros | Source: Unsplash

2. Include your Kids

I try to do this with my kids a few times a week so it’s fun and new. If my kids aren’t showing any interest, I go back to throwing snacks and TV at them.

My kid’s favorite exercise is any of the Cosmic Yoga videos on Amazon Prime but there are so many different workout with children on YouTube. A quick search yields thousand of results, including Cosmic Yoga, so you can play around and find some you like, save them, and have them ready.

A morning yoga session peering into the jungle in Ubud, Bali.
Photographer: Jared Rice | Source: Unsplash

I would recommend doing this prior to showing your kids if you want some control. If you want the kids to choose, by all means go ahead and enjoy! And stay tuned here for another upcoming blog from one of our ambassadors who loves to work out with her kids!

3. Workout at the Park While the Kids Play

My kids love to swing so I usually put them on the swings and do lunges in between pushing. This method doesn’t allow for a full uninterrupted workout but it is still super fun and it is good to get creative. I have also done push ups, sit ups, squats and even the dreaded burpees while my kids play.

GOLDEN MEMORIES
Photographer: Johnny Cohen | Source: Unsplash

I also try to get in the playground and climb up with them to get my body moving. Bonus is my kids love watching me jump around or playing with me. I can absolutely tell the difference on days where I sit back and watch my kids play (Nothing wrong with this by the way. We all need chill days.) and days when I climb and do random workouts because my kids have more fun and honestly, so do I.

4. Switch off with your partner

I won’t lie. This is my least favorite only because my husband’s work is not consistent so somedays he comes home at 3 and others at 7. This makes it really hard for us to switch off.

Super cool family that goes to my gym, she was taking pics of her husband as the baby chilled in his pack.
Photographer: LJ Lara | Source: Unsplash

We have done it before though and it is so fun but would work best for those with more consistent schedules. It is a pretty straightforward concept– basically one day you get to workout and your partner gets the next. If you want to switch days, that's cool too! Find whatever works best for your family.

5. Wake up early or go to bed late

I am 100% a night owl. In a perfect world, my kids would wake up at 10am to allow me to sleep in after a long night of trying to get stuff done in between wake ups when I am at my most productive. Alas, this is not the case. My kids wake up like clockwork at 6:30 every single day. Waking up earlier just isn't possible for me. I barely function on the 3 minutes of sleep I do get so I cannot physically or mentally afford to take any time away from that precious sleep.

Once she stopped rushing through life she was amazed how much more life she had time for.
Photographer: Kinga Cichewicz | Source: Unsplash

Night time is my jam though. My kids are not super consistent with their sleep times regardless of routine or non-stop play to exhaust. There are days I am certain they will fall asleep early and 9pm rolls around with two kids jumping and dancing and refusing to stop. On days when they are asleep before 8pm, I get myself ready and get to work!

Photographer: Jonathan Borba | Source: Unsplash

I usually just wear whatever I wore all day (usually I am for workout clothes but that is not always the case), throw a sports bra on along with my socks and shoes and call that a win. I have definitely worked out in pajamas before and that is okay because I still did it and I felt incredible after.

6. Dancing it Out

I want to be very clear on one thing– you are perfect.

Your body is incredible.

Fitness doesn’t have to mean a “workout.”

It means moving your body in any way you enjoy. My absolute favorite way to move my body is through dance. I try to play music all day because I enjoy it and I find that when I sing and dance, my body and mind feel so good.

I am not doing a beautiful choreographed dance. More often than not, I am jumping around like I am trying to catch a mosquito and singing for my kids. They think this is the most hilarious sight ever and cannot stop laughing. They usually join in.

Photographer: Junior REIS | Source: Unsplash

Dancing is such commonplace in our home that if I start saying “dancing dancing dancing” in a playful tone, my kids bust out their moves. Those moments make my heart explode with happiness and I try to absorb every second of it before it’s gone.

A quick note: Working out does not make you more worthy or beautiful. Your body is perfect. You are perfect. You are worthy and beautiful in any size you are wearing. Your body is a vessel that carries you day to day. Don’t forget to thank it. Let’s also remember that our clothing sizes do not define us. We are all worthy of love even if we sat on the couch all day watching TV with our kids.

What are some of your tips and tricks for sneaking in some physical activity? Do you include your kids?

In the comments, tell me your favorite thing your body did for you today.

I’ll go first; Today, my body allowed me to babywear a heavy toddler who is teething and all around miserable. It carried his body while he rested and I am so thankful for this body.


About the Author

Jessica is a Latinx mom to a boy and a girl. She currently lives in California with her husband, babies, and a super cuddly pup. She has many hobbies but her favorites include dancing, hiking, and true crime podcasts.


What Happened When One Company Put Parents Over Profit

A Message from Lil Helper

At Lil Helper, we are all about community. We always try to put our money where our mouth is whether it be donating to charity for our Rainbow Baby initiative, offering a God Forbid Guarantee, supporting charities that help make diapers more accessible, or simply trusting and helping parents when they ask for it.

Another way we try to build this community and create positivity is through our LilHelper: Unsnapped Facebook Community. It takes a village to raise a child, and we all need some help sometimes. At Lil Helper we have worked hard to create a space that is safe and positive for parents. Caring for and helping our customers is our number one priority. Here is one story that came from this amazing group of parents, lifting each other up, and we couldn’t be happier with the outcome. We are so proud of the community we have and everyone who is a part of this wonderful Lil Helper family.


Jessie’s Story: Community & Cloth Diapers

My name is Jessie and I'm a cloth diapering Mama. 

In my life I've jumped on many a band wagon. Oils, Tupperware etc. I've never stuck with any of them. But my cloth diapers, they are something I'm proud of. I've stuck with them, mastered my wash routine, stayed on top of diaper laundry. I owned the decision I made to help the environment and limit my single use items.

2020/2021 has been rough. For all of us. I got hit with a string of bad luck I wouldn't wish on my enemies.

From the pandemic, to the sudden and tragic loss of a friend/family member, to having a miscarriage, to getting pregnant again 3 weeks after my D&C (I wasn't ready!), to crashing my car…. I just couldn't catch a break. 

One day I left 2 wet bags full of clean, unfolded diapers in my dad's car that I was borrowing at the time. The hatch doesn't lock but I mean they are bags of unfolded diapers. They looked like rags if you just peeked in the bag. I sent my boyfriend to bring them in and he only brought in one bag. I thought that was odd but didn't really think much of it. The space dino bag had the least amount of diapers in it and it's the bag he left in the car. I decided I would just grab it later. But when I went to get it it wasn't there.

My heart sank. Everything I had lost in the the last year came flooding back. I couldn't stop crying. I was 8 months pregnant. Soon to have 2 in diapers and I lost 10ish diaper covers, most of my boosters and and night time inserts. Instead of economically growing my stash to meet the needs of two babes I now hardly had enough for one. And nothing for over nights. I didn't even have enough inserts to fill my covers.

My friends and family felt bad. But they couldn't relate. My boyfriend was firm, we are continuing to use cloth. We just need to breathe and figure it out. In my heartbroken frustration I turned to the only people I knew would feel my pain. Our LilHelper: Unsnapped group.

I just needed emotional support. Like minded people who would understand the loss I was feeling, people who would encourage me to make it through this tough patch. What I found was so much more.

I wrote a vent post. Explaining my bad luck and how the loss of my diapers was really weighing on me. Our community wrapped their arms around me and lifted me up. Instantly I had regular parents, like myself, giving me words of love and support.

Then to my shock, surprise, disbelief, people started offering to send me diapers and inserts they are no longer using. A couple wonderful people ordered clearance deals for me. Some sent me brand new diapers still in packages, some sent me EUC diapers and inserts, some people asked what diapers I lost so they could replace those exact ones. One loving soul even sent me hand made Harlem pants for the new baby and a grow with me tunic for my daughter!

I ended up with more than I lost. And more importantly my "bucket" was filled, my faith was restored and my joy was renewed. 

I've never received so much from a company before. Thank you Lil Helper for designing a product that attracts such beautiful people. Thank you for giving us a space to get to know and care for each other. And thank you fellow Unsnappers. You were there when I needed you 💜

Love and gratitude Jessie and the growing family!🥰

Jessie.



Love & Loss: Mother’s Day When You Are Grieving

Like many holidays, Mother’s Day can be a difficult day when you are grieving. And in my experience it changes with each passing year after a loss. Be ready for your feelings, be kind to yourself, and be sure to practice self-care any way you need.

It has been more than 10 years since my mother died, and we were estranged for over a year when she passed away. To say my grief process has been long and complicated would be an understatement. I was only 17 when she died, and in the years since I’ve moved through grief in various ways and become a mother myself.

The most difficult part of grief for me has been when it creeps in unexpectedly. A complicated, often taboo subject, it is difficult to navigate alone. I have found that having a plan has helped me manage my feelings and get through days that I can expect to be more difficult, like Mother’s Day.

The first year after my mother died, I didn’t realize that grief would come in waves and sneak up on me. I didn’t plan for Mother’s Day, and I was caught off guard when I found myself in heavy mourning all over again on the day. I learned that day through lots of tears to not let that happen again.

By the fifth year, I was ready. I created a routine. I was prepared with simple, healthy food, a cleared schedule, a book to journal in and another to read, and a candle to light as a way to remember her. But I was surprised again. Pleasantly surprised, to not be overwhelmed by tidal waves of grief. The day came and went. That's when I knew that I was finally through it. Not that I will never experience sadness when I think of my mom, but that I can think of her and not be swallowed up by the sadness.

Having a ritual gives you space to feel your feelings, time, and grace. If it turns out you don’t need it that is ok, but it is better to be prepared than surprised by your feelings.

Things to try in your ritual:

Journal

It doesn’t matter if its just a few notes in an old notebook, or you keep a beautiful and perfectly decorated bullet journal. Writing down feelings is a wonderful way of letting them out. Write down a favorite memory. Write a letter to your mom. Write a letter to your past or future self. Give yourself space and ink to let it out.

Find the perfect bag for all your journaling supplies.

Read

Reading whether for pleasure or processing grief is a wonderful activity to bring yourself some peace when you are grieving. If you are looking for books to help you with the loss of your mother, I recommend:

  • Letters from Motherless Daughters by Hope Edelman
  • Brene Brown, honestly any of her work
  • If you had a complicated relationship with your mother, you might also enjoy Gabor Mate’s work, his book In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts, in particular helped me gain perspective on my mom’s life and struggles with addiction

Watch a Movie

Maybe something comforting and cheerful from your childhood. Maybe something sad that feels good to ugly-cry to. For me, my comfort movie is My Neighbor Totoro, and I love to get comfy with a snack and relax with this movie.

Eat a favorite food

During hard times for me that's something healthy but easy, like a veggie sub. If I’m feeling more sentimental, I make a seafood chowder, which is a food that reminds me of happy times with my mom.

Make a playlist

Maybe its cheerful to help you keep your spirits up and distracted. Maybe it is sad, if you need to sink into your feelings.

Whatever your ritual, prepare it ahead of time and make it personal to you. Light a candle, create something, talk about it. Take time to acknowledge the person you are grieving. Say their name.

Motherhood & Moving Forward

When I became a mom myself, my experience of Mother’s Day changed again, but I still dread the day. As wonderful as it is to enjoy celebrating with my own young family, I’m not sure the day will ever come without a sting. It is a reminder of what is missing in my life. But I try to focus on the positive; acknowledge my sadness and move forward. Hugging my girls tight and wishing my own mother had had the chance to meet them.

When you are grieving on Mother’s Day, feelings of love and loss become messy and tangled and it can be hard to tell one from the other. The key is to acknowledge all your feelings but not let them take over completely.

Wishing all of those who are grieving this Mother’s Day joy and peace. Supporting each other during times of grief is so important.

What is a ritual you use to help with your grief? What do you miss most about the person you are grieving? Tell us in the comments down below.


About the Author

Caitlin lives in Alberta with her husband, 2 little girls, and too many animals cause she is a sucker for a rescue. When she's not chasing kids and changing fluff bums she spends her time crocheting, gardening, and binging true crime docs.