Friday, June 26, 2009

Favorite Product: Bubbles

This week's favorite product is Miracle Bubbles!

Bubbles are such a great, inexpensive toy that pretty much any kid will enjoy. There are a ton of choices out there but at the end of the day - any set of bubbles will do. Here are some ways to use bubbles to encourage your preemie's development.

1) Blow some bubbles - encourage your preemie to watch the bubbles fly away. Once they get the idea of tracking the bubbles, show them how to pop the bubbles. If your preemie isn't yet mobile than I would first try bubbles in the house or in the bathtub. That way he/she has more of a chance to actually pop one. You can also blow some and then use the blower to hold one of the bubbles so your preemie can see it and you can help him/her pop it.

2) Asking for more - bubbles are a great activity to do when you are trying to teach your preemie to tell you that he/she wants more of something. Whether you are using sign or words, blow some bubbles and then wait. Then ask "Do you want more?" Show me/Tell me. And then blow more after he/she indicates more.

3) Gross Motor encouragement - bubbles can help encourage your preemie to crawl/cruise/walk/run. Blow some bubbles in one direction and then encourage your preemie to go get them. This is another time when blowing bubbles inside might help because they don't go as far away.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Let's Hear It For The Dads

With Father's Day just a few days away, I wanted to devote a couple of posts to dads.

Did you know that the March of Dimes has create a site with information geared just for dads? Check it out: March of Dimes site just for dads. There is a lot of great stuff there. I love that they made a separate section. I think too much of the time all of the pregnancy/new baby information is only talking to the moms so dad's tend not to read it. They miss out on some good information.

Here are some things that I have noticed/learned/discovered as the parent of two preemies:

1) Ask him too - With both of our kids I've heard many people ask "how are you doing?" or say "this must be so hard on you." And while I greatly appreciate the concern, I realize that many people don't/didn't ask my husband how he was doing. It's his baby in the NICU too. So take a moment and ask the new dad how he's holding up.

2) Guys are different - Although there are thousands of articles and talk show segments devoted to the fact that guys react and think differently than women, in the stress of the moment we often forget. We maybe in the corner crying our eyes out and look over at our husband/partner and see him zoning out watching a ballgame. Your first instinct maybe to yell "What is wrong with you?" but before you do that - take a moment (or two). Guys often internalize a lot of stuff - just because he isn't sitting next to you crying doesn't mean he isn't just as upset. Now if he normally cries at stuff and suddenly he has the emotional depth of a doorknob than maybe you should talk about it. Make sure he isn't burying those feelings too deep. I still remember the day that the social worker came to see us after our son had been born. He was born very early Saturday morning and she didn't see us until late Monday afternoon. Now, if I can help it I try not to cry in front of random strangers. We had already talked and cried with so many people that I was able to hold it in. So, it bothered me SO much when after talking with us she said "I'm a little concerned that you guys aren't more upset. You know, crying more." Remember that outward appeareances often hide what's going on inside.

3) Dads need to take care of the baby too - I know how hard it is to watch your baby in the NICU and see the nurses doing all of the day to day care. You just want to jump in there and say "that's my baby. I want to do that." So I also know how exciting it is to change a diaper and take a temperature. Finally - mom gets to do something. And while that is very important and a huge bonding moment, don't forget about dad. Let him (even encourage him) to get in there too and change the diaper every once in awhile.

4) Dad may not want to be at the hospital for as long as you do - this goes back to the whole concept of guys are different. You may be content to see at your baby's bedside for hours at a time. Your husband may be good with a 10 minute visit. Or vice versa. One is not wrong or better. Try not to get upset with your husband. Talk about it and just accept that he is doing what he needs to do and you get to do the same.

More later this week...

Monday, June 8, 2009

Sign Language: Play

This sign language post is devoted to the sign for "play." Obviously kids love to play so this is a great sign to teach but it's also another nice way for your preemie to indicate an activity vs. a need.

Go here for an explanation and video on how to do the sign. For beginning tips on introducing sign language to your preemie, click here.

How to incorporate the sign:
- Start using this sign every time you want your preemie to "play" with you. Start by using the word and the sign together. After your preemie has watched you a few times, help him/her do the sign him/herself. *TIP* Depending on how old your preemie is, play can be a difficult sign to figure out. My daughter had a hard time making a distinction between play and all done because they both involve moving your hands around. We changed the sign by having her just use a closed fist and then moving them. If you do make any sign modifications - make sure any caregivers, therapists, family members, etc. know what the modified sign is indicating.
- Every time you change activities during play time, use the sign and word together. For example: Do you want to "play" with the blocks? That was fun. Now let's "play" with the puzzle. Anything that helps your preemie realize that if he/she uses the sign, he/she will get to do what they asked to do.
- If your preemie brings you a toy, use the sign or encourage him/her to use the sign before playing. You can take the toy and say "do you want mommy to play blocks with you?" and use the sign.

Remember to try and honor your preemie's request to play if he/she uses the sign. Even if you only have a couple of minutes, that will still help your preemie make that important communication connection (ask and you will (usually) receive).