Friday, February 27, 2009

Keep Talking: Part 1

When babies are small or have a delay in speaking it is often hard to keep up a conversation with them - who wants to talk to themselves? As hard as it may be - talking with your preemie is essential for language development.

Here are some tips to help get you talking:

1) Toys - talk about the toys or other things that your preemie is interested in. Name the toy and narrate what you and your preemie are doing with it. Look this is a farm. The sheep says "baaa." The sheep is going to go and eat. And look, here is the pig. He says oink, oink. And on and on.

2) Routines - narrate the routines in your preemie's life. As you get him/her dressed, change a diaper or play together talk about what is happening.

3) Repeat, repeat - studies have shown that when kids hear the same word over and over again, they are better able to learn and speak the words. So try saying a word as many times as possible over the course of a few minutes. For example: look at that red car. The car is going fast. Cars say vroom, vroom. Our car is blue. A car has a horn, etc."

4) Slow down - when you speak to your preemie try and slow down. Adults often talk very fast and that can be hard for a preemie to understand. I've been focusing on action words for my daughter (i.e. down, up, in, out, etc). When I ask Olivia something I say "Can we put that in?" with special emphasis on in. It's really helped her to understand and sometimes imitate those words

Monday, February 23, 2009

Favorite Product #32

This week's favorite product is for all the preemie moms and dads out there who are looking for ways to boost the amount of calories they give to their little ones.

The product is called ScandiCal.

According to the Axcan Pharma website - SCANDICAL® Calorie Booster is a taste-free powder that quickly and easily adds 35 calories per tablespoon to your meals, without changing the taste of the foods you love. SCANDICAL® comes in a portable, 8 ounce, shaker-top dispenser can, conveniently allowing you to add calories to individual servings and eliminating the need to prepare separate, high-calorie meals.
I got ScandiCal for our son. He has always been on the really skinny side and I'm trying to add a few pounds on him before Kindergarton this fall. Beyond being an active five year-old, my son doesn't eat a lot at one time. I've tried adding butter to food and make him Pediasure Hot Chocolate each night but to no avail - not enough volume at one time to make an impact. I found ScandiCal and I LOVE it already. It looks a lot like Parmasean Cheese. You can easily mix it into pretty much anything. I haven't said anything and niether has he. I mix it with his peanut butter on sandwiches, in his apple sauce and other foods. So far so good. I think we have even seen a slight weight increase after only a week of use (I can't be entirely sure because I want to get another weight check to be sure it is accurate)

SCANDICAL® is gluten-free and certified as kosher.

Interested in trying it out? The Axcan Pharma website says that you can call for a free sample at (800) 4-Scandi (800-472-2634).

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dance Baby Dance

Babies love movement. Movement can be soothing, fun, and distracting. It can help your preemie learn how to use his/her body and it's a great way to connect with your preemie. You can dance with your preemie at any age. Don't worry - you need to be good at it. Your preemie will just enjoy the time spent with you. And dancing is fun and good exercise - a win, win.

Here are some suggestions to get you started:

1) For very young preemies - start with music that is soft and mellow. Even lullabies work. Hold your preemie in close and gently rock back and forth with the music. Your preemie will start to associate the movement with the music which is an important connection.

2) Once your preemie is strong enough to support his/her own head - make your movements bigger and more purposeful. You can start to choose music that has more of a beat. If your preemie likes it - spin around in circles. Jump up and down (lightly) and really get those hips moving. Anything that allows your little one to really feel the movement.

3) Encourage your preemie's own dancing. Help your preemie move his/her own body to the music. Our daughter started "rockin' out" as soon as she could sit up. Personally I think she was born in the wrong era as her head banging skills are quite good. As soon as she hears music her eyes light up and she starts swaying. I love watching her.

Some Dancing Tips (of the non-technique variety):
- When you introduce music to your little ones, be sure to pick songs that you can stand listening to over and over again. Over and Over. My daughter will only dance to certain songs. If I try and get her to dance to something new she wants nothing to do with it. Currently her favorites are songs from High School Musical. I have only myself to blame as I'm the one who let my son watch the movies with me (much to my husband's chagrin) and then put some of the songs on my iPod.
- Looking for some lullabies that don't make you cringe? Try RockABye Baby! Records They sell lullaby versions of songs from popular bands including the Beatles, Bob Marley, No Doubt, Green Day, etc. I really like them.
- Sing along. Singing with your preemie is also a great way to encourage language development. Sing with the songs and encourage your preemie to "sing" too.
- Feeling stressed? Tired? Cranky? Put on some music and dance (with or without your preemie). We have been stuck inside due to the rain and the late afternoon often brings the cabin fever blues so we have been dancing quite a bit this week.
- If your preemie loves music and/or dancing - use it as an opportunity to teach him/her the sign for music. I'll do a post on the sign later this week.

Happy Dancing!!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Valentine's Day Craft

If you are looking for a great Valentine's Day decoration craft to do with your preemies - I posted one at

I think I'm going to add new hearts each year to show how much bigger my little ones are getting.

Have fun!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Siblings and Doctor Visits

Depending on the level of issues/needs that your preemie has, you may end up going to a lot of doctor's appointments. If you have other children who are not in school or with a babysitter, that can usually mean that they are dragged along as well. In my case, I have to take our son to most of my daughter's appointments. Here are some things I have learned to make it easier on everyone.

1) Entertainment - when you pack the diaper bag, be sure to pack things for your other kid(s) too. Books, coloring books, small toys, stickers - whatever will keep them entertained and at least marginally quiet for awhile. For my son I always carry around a few cars, this race track, a small pad of paper, some crayons and one toy of his choice. This ensures that he has several options to keep him occupied.

2) Snacks - little ones (and big ones) get hungry. And they often get hungry at the exact moment that your doctor is outlining a new plan of care for your preemie. I always bring an assortment of fruit snacks or other non-perishable items that can be quickly handed over to my son during those moments.

3) Set expectations - let your kids know where you are going and what is going to happen. They need to know what it means to "be good" during the appointment - stay quiet, let mommy/daddy talk to the doctor without interruptions, etc. For our son he knows that going to PT means he gets to play without taking toys from his sister, the pediatrician means he gets to see the trains when we are done, etc. Setting a routine helps to make the trips a lot easier.

4) Rewards - try and find small rewards that can be given to siblings who have to tag along. Many doctor's offices now have train sets or fish tanks to look at - let your kids look at the trains/fish tank before and after the appointment. Spending a couple of extra minutes after an appointment letting them look at the trains can go a long way towards making them feel better about going somewhere they don't want to go. A lot of doctors have stickers and/or lollipops. My son always gets to choose one of each (and our pediatrician is great about handing him the box of stickers so he can stay occupied for several minutes picking one out).

5) Come prepared - if you know the doctor is going to need some specific information, try and have it ready before you get to the appointment. It makes it much easier to balance your kids and listen to the doctor if you aren't also looking for paperwork, etc.

With a little extra planning, bring a sibling to a doctor's appointment can be far less painful and distracting.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Favorite Product #31

This week's favorite product is the 100 First Words Bright Baby board book.

**For some reason I am having trouble with the pictures so I will try and post it later**

While parents may find the Bright Baby (or other similar books) mind numbingly boring, kids love these books. The simplicity, bright pictures and clearly defined items are easy for them to understand. And learn. These books are great for preemies who are working on language development and fine motor skills (including pointing and turning pages). There are many different versions of these books - right now this one is Olivia's favorite. I think she likes the larger size of the pages.

Here are some ways to use this book to encourage your preemie's development:

1) Read the book - this is a great book to read to a preemie who isn't yet ready to "follow" a story and/or has a short attention span. You can get through each page quickly and yet still give your preemie the beginning love of reading.
2) Fine motor - turning the page. Encourage your preemie to turn each page when you are done. At first you may need to lift the page a little bit to get your preemie started but overtime he/she will get the idea.
3) Fine motor - pointing. As you read the book, start pointing at some of the pictures. Choose 2-3 on each page and point directly at the picture as you say the word. Encourage your preemie to do the same. At first your preemie may just randomly point to the page - and that's okay. Over time encourage your preemie to point at specific pictures. This not only helps refine her pointing skills, he/she is also learning to identify objects.
4) Language - As you read the book, clearly say each word. For objects that your preemie might be familiar with - point to the picture and say the word. Draw his/her attention to it "see, here is the ball." This will get your preemie to start identifying the word and the object together. As your preemie becomes more interested and starts building more words, you can increase the pictures that you point too.

Like with anything else, follow your preemies lead. He/she may only be interested in looking at certain pictures or just turning the page. And that's okay. It's all a part of the process.