Did you know last week was National Healthy Weight Week? To celebrate here are some tips to support healthy weight and body image in young girls and women!

Today’s culture can be a difficult one for girls and women to be in when it comes to weight. There is so much pressure to be a certain weight; while it used to be skinny, now, there is a big push for “healthy weight,” but what does that even mean? The internet is truly a double edged sword as it provides us with access to lots of credible information, it also has a lot of incorrect information which unfortunately spreads like wildfire. With so many people selling coaching, shakes, or other weight loss products it can be difficult to navigate as an adult, let alone as a teen. Here are some tips to help support your tween/teen daughter, niece, cousin, student, etc.

  • Support and give an example of healthy eating: make sure you demonstrate healthy eating habits to follow. This means eating all meals, not talking badly about yourself when you eat something that’s not super healthy, discussing food as fuel and how important fuel is for our bodies, etc. Kids and teens learn a lot of behaviors and attitudes from the adults around them, so be sure you are setting a healthy example.
  • Encourage regular exercise, but make sure you aren’t equating exercise to value: exercise is a great way to maintain healthy weight and a healthy lifestyle. But it is important to not become hyper focused on it. It can be easy, especially with social media, to think you HAVE to workout and if you don’t you’re a bad person. So encouraging a healthy relationship with working out is crucial.
  • Focus on other amazing attributes as well: making sure to compliment other aspects is so important. Some great examples to focus on: kindness, caring, thoughtfulness, helpfulness, etc. These are traits that are completely in their control and not related to body image. Another way is to kind of spin body image compliments, so instead of saying ‘you look so skinny’ you can say ‘you look so healthy’ or ‘you’re glowing when you’re happy’ to focus less on looks and more on attitude.

At the end of the day being healthy is not the same as being skinny or super muscular or anything related to looks. Reminding and encouraging this mindset is key to help young girls have a sense of healthy weight and body image. In today’s world it can be so hard to have a healthy mindset around these topics with social media, and while you can’t control what the young girls in your life are thinking, you can help set a good example for them daily. 

by Katherine Maloney, PT, DPT

I work with some amazing moms and dads every day here at KidPT. There is one thing that I’ve found they almost all have in common: they are way too hard on themselves! Everyday I hear moms saying that they’re a bad mom because they let their kid stay up late or didn’t make them eat all their veggies or whatever it is. I’m going to come right out and say it: that is a big lie! 

Let me also preface this by saying I am not a parent right now, but I’ve been working with parents, and specifically parents of kids with special needs, for a long time. Long enough to know that none of these moms (and dads!) are bad at all. In fact they are all amazing! Moms and Dads don’t give themselves enough credit; you not only have to take care of yourself everyday but you have to take care of kids too! 

We live in a time right now where we have access to everyone via social media and the internet; we know exactly what Princess Kate and Prince William are feeding their kids, and we compare ourselves to that. But the dirty little secret is that no one is perfect and people probably aren’t posting about their parenting mishaps. Every parent that is bringing their kid to physical therapy is taking time out of their already busy schedule to prioritize their child’s wellbeing and health. These parents listen to what we, the Physical Therapists, say to do at home and incorporate it into their daily activities. 

Not only these examples, but the amount of love and advocating I see these parents do day in and out is amazing! I’m continually impressed and motivated by the incredible moms and dads that I work with everyday. So thank you for inspiring me everyday at work, I literally could not do my job without your help and support!

Bath Safety, Positioning, and Fun!

by Katherine Maloney, PT, DPT

January is officially National Bath Safety Month! We figured what better excuse to bring you some tips for safety, positioning, and, of course, fun! 

Bath safety is really important, and so it’s good to have a few reminders to stay on top of safety during bath time. Did you know that as little as 1 inch of water can be hazardous for babies according to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital. But bath time should be a fun, regular activity! Remember: 

  • Always supervise children
  • Always check water temp with a temperature sensing toy or your wrist
  • Set water heaters to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent accidental scalding
  • Put no-slip mats in your tub
  • Keep any hazardous materials (cleaners, razors, etc) safely stored where children cannot reach them
  • Consider taking a CPR/First Aid class for emergencies

Positioning for bath time can not only help with safety but make bath time easier and more enjoyable for you and your kiddos. One tip I learned from Joni was to put a laundry basket (the plastic kind with holes) in the tub for toddlers; this creates a smaller area for them to be in, making it easier to watch them, yet still allows them to play in the water. For infants there are plenty of bath seats available for use in the sink or tub, just remember to make sure your baby is seated upright properly in these for safety!

Finally, here are some tips to make bath time fun for all ages!

  • Bring everyday toys in the bath: legos, cars, beach toys, and gardening tools are all great in the bath and open up lots of imagination play for your kid
  • Create a water wall: using funnels, water bottles with holes, tubes, and anything else you can think of to build a “track” for the water to flow down the wall of the bath. This really encourages building and engineering skills in a fun way!
  • Fishing: get some toy fish, put them in a small round laundry basket, and let your kids go fishing with a net or just their hands! One twist from this that I’ve seen online is to freeze the toys in ice cubes first to make it “ice fishing”!
  • Target Practice: use bath letters, or magnets of any kind, stick them to the wall of the bath and fill a spray bottle with water (bonus: you can dye the color with food dye for more fun!). Then just let your kid try to shoot each target with the spray bottle. You can make it more complex for older kids by having them spell out words! I’ve also seen people place coffee filters over the target so the kid can see the filter getting wet from their spray bottle. Either way this is a fun game that also works hand-eye coordination! 

by Katherine Maloney, PT, DPT

It’s the time of year when everyone starts talking about their big New Year’s resolutions. But did you know that less than 25% of people keep their goals past the month of January? Keeping goals and following through is a hard task for anyone, so what can you do to make this process easier? Writing SMART goals is a great first step!

I was first introduced to the idea of SMART goals through sports, but it was really hammered down in PT school when we were learning how to write goals for patients. So what are SMART goals? SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based goals. But what does all this mean?

Being specific with your goals is really important. Saying “I want to be healthier this year” is vague and makes it hard for you to know what your next step is. Try instead, “I want to work out three times a week this year” to be more specific. 

Making your goal measurable means that you are going to be able to track this goal. Just like being specific saying “I want to work out more” is a lot different than saying “I will work out for X minutes X times a week” or “I will be able to run for 30 minutes without stopping by the end of the year.” You have to be able to see how you are progressing at your goal, this helps to keep you motivated by seeing the progress you’ve already made! 

Your goals have to be attainable. This one can be tricky, sometimes we get caught up in the excitement of the new year and make big, lofty goals for ourselves. But remind yourself that you want to be able to reach your goals. Sometimes you really have to start small. If you reach your goal before the year is over you can always set a new one! 

You want your goals to be relevant to you. So making a goal about running might be great for me because I love to run, but you might hate running and so it doesn’t make sense for you. Or on the other hand, maybe you already run consistently. In that case it wouldn’t make sense to make a goal about running consistently because you’re already doing it; instead your goal could be about speed, distance, races, or not related to running at all! If the goal is relevant to you, you aren’t going to do it. You want to be excited to work towards your goals!

Finally your goal needs to be time-based. For most New Year’s resolutions, the time frame is the whole year. And that’s a great starting point… but a year is a long time. If you want to make year long goals I highly suggest that you break down that goal into smaller, bite sized portions. This could be breaking it down quarterly, monthly, or even weekly. What matters is that you set a time frame for when you want to accomplish your goal so that it doesn’t just fall to the wayside with the classic “I’ll start that next week” mantra. 

The New Year is a great time to set some new goals for yourself and re-evaluate different areas of your life. Writing SMART goals will make your life easier and help you be part of the 25% that keeps going with their goals past January! 

Winter break is coming up and I know outside of the family festivities you are going to have some time that you’re going to look for ways to keep the kids busy! Here are some fun (and EASY!) crafts that the kids will love. We would love to see the finished products!

  1. Paper Roll Snowman

In order to make a paper roll snowman you will need a toilet paper roll or paper towel roll, white paint or white paper, colored paper, a black marker, scissors and glue. First, cover the roll with white paint or white paper. Second, cut a strip of paper to make a scarf and a nose for the snowman. Glue the scarf just above the center of the roll, draw the face and glue the nose.

  1. Handprint Penguin 

The supplies needed to make a handprint penguin are: white felt, black construction paper, orange construction paper, and googly eyes. To begin, trace your hand on the black construction paper and cut it out. Next, use a round object, such as a cup, to trace the white felt and cut out a circle for the belly. Glue the belly to the center of the hand penguin. Use the orange construction paper to make a nose for the penguin. Lastly, glue the eyes and nose onto your penguin. 

  1. Hot Chocolate Mug

To make a hot chocolate mug you will need construction paper, brown paint, white pom poms, and stickers. First cut out a square and a c shape and glue them together to make your mug. Next paint the top brown so it looks like hot chocolate. Put pom poms on the brown paint to resemble marshmallows. Use stickers to decorate. 

  1. Paper Plate Polar Bear

Before you make a paper plate polar bear make sure you have paper plates, cotton balls, glue, white and black paper, and scissors. Cover the plate with glue and then cover with cotton balls. Cut out two circles from the white paper to make the ears. Use the black construction paper to create the face. 

  1. Popsicle Stick Snowflake

Glue four popsicle sticks in the shape of a snowflake. Use any paint, markers, stickers, or pom poms to decorate your snowflake.

Happy happy holidays and happy crafting!!!

With the holidays right around the corner we know that finding the best toys to gift your kids is important. We have gathered our favorite PT-approved toys to keep your kids moving all year long! 

For Balance and Coordination:

Scooter: a classic that works single leg balance and strength!

Balance bike: a fun transitional toy, this can be especially good if your kid has an older sibling or cousin who is riding a big bike! 

Balance Beam: a great indoor toy that you can do all kinds of different balance activities on, you can even work on ball skills like throwing and catching up here!

Super soft pogo stick: this toy takes a lot of coordination and balance but it is perfect for indoor use compared to traditional pogo sticks!

Balance Board: with this toy you can work on balance skills and pretend play by having your kid imagine they are on a boat, surfboard, skateboard… the possibilities are endless!

Wheel Walker: pretend to train for the circus with these toy that is used to learn how to ride a unicycle! A great indoor or outdoor toy!

Indoor Stilts: another circus training toy! These stilts a great for balance and coordination and can be used all year long!

T-Stool: a great seating alternative to work balance and core strength!

Hedgehog Balance Pods: great to incorporate into an obstacle course or for pretend play (the floor is lava right?) this toy is great for indoor and outdoor play and can even help with sensitive feet!

Sturdy Birdy: a fun game to work on different balance positions in a little bit more competitive way! This is a great game for everyone in the family!

For Ball Skills

Velcro Ball: a fun way to work on hand-eye coordination and ball skills

Knobby Balls: These are great, soft balls to learn catching, throwing, and kicking with.

Mini Basketball hoop: a great way to start working on various ball skills and hand eye coordination! This version is perfect for indoors so it can be played with year round!

Portable Soccer Net: this is another great indoor option! You can use the knobby balls listed above or any other soft ball to work on kicking skills! This can also help with balance!

Target Game: this is a great way to work on tossing and hand eye coordination in a fun way! This toy is great for indoor and outdoor.

Throw and Catch Cup: another classic game that works on general ball skills and really works hand-eye coordination!

Bulzibucket: a great way to work on tossing and hand-eye coordination in a fun and different way! Bonus: this toy can even be used in the pool next Summer!

Spider Ring Toss: a fun twist on the classic ring toss! You can even incorporate some of the balance toys from above for an added challenge.

For Endurance

Bike/Tricycle: another classic, a bike for the holidays is a great way to build healthy habits for life!

Jump Rope: a good alternative to use in a bigger room during the winter when it’s too cold to go outside 

HyperDash: another great indoor game! This game you can set up targets all over and even make an obstacle course. Plus it’s timed so your kid will be motivated to get their heart rate up!

Roller Skates: roller skates are great to work on single leg balance and endurance

Indoor Obstacle Course: take inspiration from American Ninja Warrior and get your kid moving indoors this winter! This toy can work on endurance, balance, and overall gross motor skills!

Super Stretchy ABC game: this game is great for flexibility and core strengthening! And it’s a fun indoor game for anyone to play!

Bouncy Ball with Handle: this is a great way to get out some energy inside while working leg muscles, core strength, and coordination!

Exercise Dice: a fun interactive way to do a variety of exercises that kids of all ages will enjoy!

Zoom Ball: a great way to work those back and posture muscles. With kids sitting in school all day and using computers so much this is a great way to help with posture.

Mini Trampoline:

a great way to burn off some of that extra energy when you can’t go outside! This will also work on leg and core strength!

For Fine Motor Skills

Squigz: these are so much fun and really work on grasp and fine motor skills. You can incorporate these into balance or obstacle course too!

Wooden Puzzles: a final classic that never goes out of style. They even make cool puzzles that make noises too!

Spike the Hedgehog: This toy can be incorporated into a gross motor activity by making an obstacle course or can be used on its own to work on fine motor grasp and hand eye coordination skills! We use this all the time at our office!

Lite-Brite: another classic that you can’t go wrong with! Work fine motor skills and creativity with this toy!

Catching and Feeding Game: another clinic favorite of ours! Use fine motor skills, incorporate into an obstacle course or balance activity, and learn about how magnets work all in one toy!

Bee to Hive Matching game: work on fine grasp tasks and color matching in this fun bumble bee toy!

Matching Eggs: another fine motor and matching game! This is a great and fun toy for younger kids and can easily be incorporated into a balance skill or obstacle course!

Mr. Potato Head: another classic, this toy works fine motor and imaginative play all in one!

Kinetic Sand: an alternative to playdough that works fine motor, creativity, and exposes your kid to a different sensory experience for their hands.

Did you find any great toys for your kids this year? Share them with us and well pass it on!!!

I was asked about hope.  It hit me that HOPE is something that surrounds me everyday.  Sometimes I am witnessing it and other times I am offering it.

Check out this article on Up Journey all about HOPE!!!

Scroll down till you see my photo if you want to read my contribution and THANK YOU for surrounding me with hope day in and day out!

by Katherine Maloney, DPT

Family photo created by jcomp – www.freepik.com

Yoga has gained a lot of attention in the last few years and it’s easy to see why. There are so many benefits to doing yoga, for your body and your mind. Yoga can be good for you, your kids, and the whole family together! Plus it’s never too young to start, with Parent and Me Yoga classes for even the youngest of babies. But how does yoga actually help you? And how can you incorporate it at home?

Yoga is great for adults and kids physical wellbeing. Yoga moves your body in ways that can challenge your core and muscles, stretch your muscles, and even work your cardiovascular system. For adults, yoga is a good adjunct to other forms of exercise including running and weight lifting. Yoga can help improve your balance and keep those key core muscles engaged. For kids, yoga can help promote normal gross motor development, improve and regulate the GI system, improve breathing, and improve many sensory systems. Yoga helps kids learn where they are in space and their limits of stability (aka work that balance!). 

Mental health can also be positively affected by yoga practice. Yoga is proven to decrease anxiety and stress, increase mindfulness, and help bring calm and a feeling of being centered. We sometimes forget how stressed our kids can get, even babies! Yoga is a great way to help them figure out ways to calm themselves and to be more mindful. And it goes without saying that parents are often stressed and overwhelmed. The focus on breath and the smooth movements can help bring our nervous systems back into the “rest and digest” zone instead of the “fight or flight” zone that we often live in when stressed out. This in turn helps our physical health (breathing, digestion, sleep, etc). 

When done with others, whether it’s in a class or just at home with family, yoga can also benefit our social well being. Being connected with others again benefits our mental and physical health. Going to a parent and me yoga class or kid’s yoga class can also connect you with people who may have similar stressors and concerns as you, giving you an opportunity to walk through problems or concerns with someone else. 

But how can you incorporate yoga at home if you don’t want to join a studio? Youtube has tons of good yoga videos for all different levels. There are also plenty of apps that are all about yoga. And honestly you can just play around with different poses and flows at home, it doesn’t have to be perfect! Just remember to go at your own pace and to not push into pain!

This week for our developmental playgroup we will be doing a parent and me yoga class. If you are looking for a more kid friendly yoga class for your older ones stay tuned because we are bringing a yoga play group to KidPT soon!

by Katherine Maloney, DPT

With it officially being Fall, I thought it would be fun to talk about some of our (the Kid PT Staff’s) favorite fall activities! Not only will we be sharing our favorite fall activities but where you can go do them too. 

Joni did not have to think hard when I asked about her favorite Fall activity: Creature Fest at Duke Farms in Hillsborough! This is one of the few times that the farm is open at night and they have an incredibly interactive nature walk set up where you can see different plants and animals around the farm. 

Wendy, one of our amazing Physical Therapists, says her favorite Fall activity is simply to be outdoors. She loves the changing leaves and the crisp, cool air. Her favorite place to go for a nature walk this time of year is her hometown, Clinton, NJ. She says everyone needs to check out Clinton in the Fall! And she said they also have a really good haunted house for those who are not faint of heart. 

Callie told me that her favorite thing to do this time of year is to go pumpkin picking! She loves to pick out her own perfect pumpkin to decorate her house with. She says she goes to Happy Day Farm in Manalapan. This farm also has sunflower picking and a pumpkin festival! You can definitely make a whole Fall themed day of going to Happy Day Farm!

Stephanie has also recently joined our team as an intern. She is a senior in high school and looking to go to PT school in the future! Her favorite fall activity is going apple picking at Melick’s Town Farm and Apple Orchard in Oldwick. She loves to use the apples she picks in all her Fall snacks and desserts!

My favorite fall activity is going to a local Fall Festival; I love pumpkin picking, doing the corn maze, seeing farm animals, and getting delicious Fall flavored treats! Bonus points if I can bring my adorable doggie with me. Living in Virginia we had several options, but with moving to NJ this year I am planning to check out the Maple Leaf Farm Fall Festival

What is your favorite thing to do this time of year? We would love to hear all about how you celebrate this new season! 

by Anjali Fortna, PT, DPT

What is Tummy Time?

“Tummy time” is the time during the day that an infant spends on his or her tummy. Because it is typically recommended that a baby sleep flat on her back during all naps and overnight sleep, it is important to give baby time in other positions to help develop symmetry and strength in all

There are many benefits to tummy time that go beyond just changing position. Spending time on their stomachs is crucial to babies developing strong neck muscles to lift their heads against gravity, and begin to develop the ability to lift their heads to look at people or objects in their environment. In the womb, babies grow in a position of flexion, meaning their necks, backs, hips, knees — everything — are bent forward. Developing range of motion in the opposite direction, or extension, is an important part of developing strength and symmetry for everyday activities. Tummy time is a big part of this development. It even helps the spine develop its
shape and change from the completely flexed forward infant spine to the childhood and adulthood spine that has curves at the neck and low back. All of this develops by working against gravity.

Another big benefit of tummy time is the prevention of a flat back of the head. When babies spend too much time on their backs beyond just when they are sleeping, their soft heads can become flattened on the back (brachycephaly), or the sides (plagiocephaly). Changes in head shape can lead to shortened or tight neck muscles, asymmetrical preference for vision and motor development, and may even affect the way a bike helmet fits when a child gets older. Working tummy time into baby’s every day can help prevent irregular skeletal and gross motor development.

So how is tummy time done? Tummy time should always be supervised until the baby can confidently and consistently roll from tummy to back by himself. While some babies enjoy playing on their tummies, others immediately fuss and try to avoid this position. Babies who
have colic or reflux may especially resist tummy time. Ideally, babies should spend 60 minutes per day on their tummy. If the baby enjoys being on his stomach, this can be completed in large chunks of time with the baby flat on his stomach on the floor, with a toy or parent in front of him to encourage him to lift his head and work his muscles against gravity. If baby doesn’t like tummy time or becomes fussy easily, it can be done in shorter bouts of just a couple minutes at a time. Some parents choose to work in small amounts at regular intervals during the day, such as just after a diaper change.

If the baby does not tolerate being flat on her stomach at first, there are some alternative methods of working in tummy time. Some babies will tolerate being in a partially flat position on their stomachs, such as propped with their chest over a boppy pillow or small wedge. Other babies will tolerate lying on their stomachs against their parent’s chest while the parent leans back on the couch. These positions are still considered tummy time because the baby must use her extensor muscles on her back to lift her head and trunk against gravity.

Overall, tummy time should be a positive and playful part of the day to help baby develop strength, symmetry, and new ways to interact with her environment. If you have concerns about your baby’s tolerance of tummy time, movement preferences, or developing body, a pediatric physical therapist can help assess your baby’s motor development and come up with strategies to make tummy time a regular and fun part of the day!