Parenthood

Guest Interview: Early Intervention Program for Babies and Toddlers

So this is going to be a very very special blog post because I’m thrilled to be featuring one of my finest mom friends (aka support system) , who btw is also someone who’s been there, done that, when it comes to “Early Intervention.” For those who are looking for treatments for speech and developmental delays, I hope this little interview will familiarize with the methods and what EI is particuarly w.r.t Speech Therapy.

A little about Alarmathi , who blogs at From Sisters To Mommies : She is a Non residential Indian who is at the US right now and a mother to a lovely 2.5 year old Jivin.

Not a lot of people choose to speak about this, which is why I thought it made for a great topic for a first guest interview post. I have chosen to use a Q&A style, with the questions in bold for easy reading.

So first things first, tell us what exactly is early intervention?

“Early intervention” is a support system for children with developmental delays and their families. This usually is provided for kids from birth to 3, who do not meet their milestones at the proper stage, in their natural environment, before they qualify for the preschool.

How did you realize your baby needed early intervention?

It was not until I took Jivin to an early childhood class in our library, I realized he lacked many skills that babies his age do. What bothered me the most was that he never understood what clap 👏 meant and he never waved bye 👋. Those are some of the basic skills done at 8-9 months. At 12 months babies are expected to speak 4-5 words but it was 15 months and Jivin never uttered a word. One of his teachers from his class made a home visit and suggested “early intervention”.
So, What happens in Early intervention?  What do they actually do in it? 

Well! Here is my experience.

A group of teachers, which includes, special education teacher, occupational therapist, speech language pathologist will visit your house to conduct an initial evaluation of your kid’s skills and development. They use certain evaluation tools and procedures(in our case, Bayley scales of infant and toddler development) for the evaluation and will present you with an evaluation plan. The evaluation tests your child’s skills in five different domains, which is

  1. Cognitive
  2. Social/emotional
  3. Adaptive
  4. Communication and
  5. Motor skills.

Based on the results, they come with a plan for the kid and this plan is for up to 3 years.

Jivin reportedly was having developmental delays in all five domains, which included his habit nursing to sleep (They mentioned this as his inability to adapt). I was surprised as I am totally aware of people who nurse till they are preschoolers, I dint find anything abnormal in extended nursing. Still, we went with their plan, as we knew something good is bound to come out of this.

As we started all these in summer, we received very less sessions over the summer (probably just 4 sessions in 3 months). Once the schools reopened our actual therapies started, with a weekly visit by a special education teacher and monthly visits by occupational therapist and speech pathologist. Over the summer, Jivin developed few skills which he was lacking. Like, clapping, waving, identifying a bus, pointing to objects and asking me to name them.

Then during the fall, with continuous therapy there were gradual improvements in him. They introduced him with sign Language. He grasped a couple of them “more”, “all done”, “eat”,”sleepy”. Within a couple of months he spoke nearly 20 words which was huge for us. We then traveled to India for a vacation, where he saw the dogs, cats and cows that was in pictures only (you don’t find stray animals in US). The people in the iPad (Facetime chats) were in front of him… lots of interaction and exposure made him speak and understand more. It was a huge development according to his teachers. From 20 words, he spoke number of words which I couldn’t count. Now He speaks 200 plus words. He speaks sentences forming 2-3 words.

Since yours is a cross cultural early intervention experience, I’m wondering if the language barriers for li’l J had an effect on the EI program…?

Initially, for the evaluation that I mentioned, we will be provided with an interpreter (a person who knows both English and family’s language). But our interpreter arrived late and we did good without him. When I started EI for Jivin, He never spoke. I don’t even know if he understands English or Tamil. So, I was open to Jivin learning any language of his choice. Interestingly He chose Tamil , while he uses certain words in English. I wouldn’t say that came in way. Because the whole purpose of EI is to make the child meet his milestones. Like by age of 2 he needs to know 50 plus words (any language). I became the interpreter for my son and teachers, when he has difficulties in following I would simplify the words for him to understand.

That’s amazing… 🙂 What toys helped u most in this journey?

Reading books, wooden board puzzles from M&D ( I had only one kind that had farm animals), train tracks, trucks that pops balls, when he reached around two, he got interested in building stuff using blocks, magnetic blocks.

What books / blogs / resources did you find helpful ?

Like you have mentioned before in your blog, I too am a great believer in the balance between structured and unstructured play. I try and follow various blogs, Mumma diaries by Amruta and little fingers at work are the blogs I regularly follow. I try to catch up with The Dad lab on Instagram and Proeves blog where they find different moms and make them share their experience. Apart from this I am a member of several mommy groups where I get inspired with certain ideas and try to make it for Jivin.

Regarding books for Jivin, we had a lot of baby board books containing pictures majorly.  I live in a place where its winter like half of the year, you cant find animals straying in streets. So, books were the only way to give Jivin an exposure. Books like, my first 100 words, touch feel books, animal sounds books. These books helped us when Jivin was a baby. Later as he grew up, The hungry caterpillar, Brown bear brown bear , Chicka chicka boom boom , llama llama series, Dr. Seuss series, Pete the cat series( our latest addiction).

During your weekly visit by a special education teacher and monthly visits by occupational therapist and speech pathologist ,  what did these guys do?

They bring in some interesting activities, toys, puzzles, books age appropriate for him. There are lots I will not be list all in this small space But I will tell you couple of activities One day his teacher brought a collapsible tunnel and he was asked to go through it, the next activity was to ring sorter. After 15 mins, he was asked to do it simultaneously, like go through the tunnel sort the first ring, then again go through tunnel sort the 2nd one. Its like a structured play, to make him understand the routines. When there is a OT visit, she brings activities for his fine and gross motor skills like beading (threading), putting cards in a slot, pipe cleaner in a box, activities that uses both his hand together like catching a ball, scooping by a spoon while holding a bowl in other hand, Pulling scarves out of a box using both hands, stacking blocks, peg stacker. When there is a SLT visit, there is a lot of reading books, matching pictures, she started with sign language when he was not speaking any words. We started with asking for “more” in sign language, which worked really well. They would hide things are asks him to prompt for more and give him stuff which made him understand the sign language. The special education teacher brings in different activities every week which is related to something that other two have asked Jivin to work on that month. By the 4th Visit, Jivin understood they are going to bring him something interesting and he would run and sit a place waiting for them to open their bags. When we were on a vacation to India for a month his teacher mailed me with some interesting activities to do in our flight journey. That was really helpful.

 

In addition to books and toys  did you use any other aids or activities at home?

Jivin wasn’t a person who was very much interested in toys, He rather liked playing with kitchen utensils. Mixing bowls, empty containers, idly plates, placing a whistle for a pressure cooker, all these helped with his motor skills. Uncooked pastas, beans scooping in and out, transferring between bowls. A empty carton box thrice his size entertained him for a month Apart from these, daily activities like peeling banana, pomegranate, oranges, Using plastic knifes to cut vegetables, washing vegetables, vaccuuming the house, doing the laundry, putting clothes in and out of washer dryer.

Like the saying “make hay while sun shines”, whenever a little bit of sun shows up We hang out a lot . My apartment residents who meet me for the first time, ask me you are one who’s always on the street with your kid. haha!

Also apart from taking him to local library, his school (ECFE classes), play grounds, making friends in the neighborhood and letting him play with other kids, I take him to swim classes. I’m not a health and fitness kind of mom, but I joined a gym cause there was a play area where Jivin could play with other kids for like 1 hour. I used to leave him and join the Zumba session ( for pure fun). I’m so lazy to get on the treadmill (there is no point walking at at the same place for hours )

Do u have any idea about early intervention in India?

I’m not sure about early intervention in India, But I do know when kids do not speak by 2 they recommend speech therapist. Apart from this, there is facebook group run by professionals who help you with early childhood skills development. They conducted online seminars and lectures for parents: Early childhood development and parenting India is the group name. There are moms who are going to a new level by educating themselves in early childhood education and getting certified in it. I remember seeing one such mom being mentioned in Proeves blog.

Why is early intervention an absolute must?  Why shouldn’t you shy away from it?

When you child isn’t speaking words (like babbling sounds) by a year. There are 2 kinds of advice you get: 1. “Go to a speech therapist right away” or 2. “My uncle spoke only when he was five so don’t worry”. I was also in similar kind of situation. Then I thought what would Jivin want? At that time he used to get frustrated for not being able to express his needs, I would feel guilty for my inability to understand his cries. That was a age where kids would show some signs of communications to their parents. I felt, we were doing something wrong. We thought we needed a guidance as a parent to go in the right direction. So, We went ahead with the EI. There is no need to be shy in taking help. Just because you gave birth does n’t mean you can read their minds all the time. As a woman being a mom is just one of the roles, you have lots in mind sometimes you don’t get them you need help to understand your own child and its okay. The other reason I would say is making them feel their age. We might think he is just a year old not hearing babbles from him is not a big deal. But this delay might further delay the next milestones related to this one. So once you fix this, you are making your child ready for his next coming milestone. So by the age of 3 when they are ready for preschool your child has all necessary skills required for a 3 year old. Early Intervention or speech therapy is not making them say thirukkural and thiruvasagam. Its making them do the age appropriate stuff as a normal other kid would do.

Jivin will be out of early intervention shortly as he is meeting the required milestones 😊 also he is ahead in some of them, which is awesome news! ❤

Thank you so much Alarmathi! I can’t imagine how big a deal this is, so KUDOS to you for getting things back on track! Woot!

Special thanks for sharing all these pictures of lil J enjoying his playtime. I’m so glad your experience with EI could help many other who are in a similar situation. Lots of love to you both! ❤

If any one reading this has any queries you could post those as comments in here and our expert will be happy to take it!

Thanks for reading. 🙂

 

 

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A to Z challenge

E is for…

These wonderful aids related to eating and early development:

EZPZ mats: After following a few support groups about baby led weaning* I decided I needed this to keep the food from being thrown around and went ahead and purchased it from their site. It did help quite a bit in with keeping the food in place, but a whole LOT more in helping us apportion meal sizes. Often times a parent tends to fret that their child isn’t eating enough – For me, it helped me come to terms with the fact that the amount of food plated in the ezpz was enough for a toddler that had the stomach a tiny size.

ezpzq

A year after our BLW journey began, we got round to eating out of stainless steel plates (the mini ones) and those have been helping us too. The EZPZ ompany has suction bowls and bigger mats. Check them out – I heart these! They totally encourage independent eating.

Bonus: These are great travel placemats for those restaurant dinners, especially the ones where you don’t trust the hygiene of the highchair tray.

*So there are 2 common weaning practices  – Traditional weaning & Baby-led weaning. And then there are the hybrids – self feeding babes that are also fed at times. Remember to wait until the 6 month mark before beginning any of these. And always remember that the child should be able to sit and MUST be in a sitting position when having their meals.

E is also for Early learning & positive parenting philosophy.

Down below are great places to gather a lot of knowledge on positive parenting principles and how to engage and empower your kids. JOIN. 🙂

Early Learning and Positive Parenting India for Preschoolers and Toddlers
Play, Learn & Explore with Tot Labs by Mumma Diaries.
Gentle Parenting India

 

PS: No one of these posts are sponsored by any brands. I’m only writing to help the  first time parents gain access to all of these wonderful products and forums out there!

If you have a special brand/ product that you recommend, give them a shout-out in the comments.

🙂

AZ, cloth diapering, Uncategorized

Bumpadum Fitted Cloth Diaper Review & Giveaway

subsccribe

One mini human is ready to take on the Chennai summer,  flashing his airy, breathable  Bumpadum fitted dipe OTB. Many thanks, Bumpadum for sending us this for review. For those of you who don’t know my MCD spending patterns, I must mention that, this is THE brand that has a big share of my wallet section for cloth diapers. Such is the awesomeness of this Indian company that manufactures a wide range of products that are all eco-friendly options for the cloth diapering folks —  from wipes to wetbags to different types of CDs. Not to forget, the prints are really unique and very cute. Check out my  ‘London’ fitted from their ‘Around the world’ series. ❤

Fitted diapers, commonly referred to as Fitteds, are brilliant cloth diapers (CDs) which combine ease of use and flexibility. They closely resemble the size and shape of disposable diapers. Though, with the variety of super absorbent and breathable fabrics to choose from these are hands-down one of the best cloth diapering options available to suit your little one’s individual needs. They are considered a breathable option especially suited for babies with sensitive skin and are prone to rashes. Although Fitted Diapers are not waterproof and do require the use of a diaper cover, herein lies one of their advantages! You decide: wool, fleece, or PUL covers; some parents even opt to go coverless (usually when indoors or when trying to clear up a diaper rash).

Packaging: I like that they have a zero plastic packaging. The dipe comes packed in a lovely velour cloth that can be used as a baby wipe.

Bumpadum’s fitteds look similar to the duet range they have recently release, but the only difference is that the outer shell is non-laminated making it breathable. That also means the shell isn’t waterproof and has to be used with a cover on top when used for longer periods such as night time.

Shell: Oh so soft microfleece. It has 2 snaps to put in the insert of your choice.

The insert: The signature ‘buttery soft’ tongue like insert if you have chosen the night time insert, else the 2 part one, if you bought the day time one. These are lined with micro fleece on the side that touches baby’s bottom to provide stay dry effect. Both the inserts have two layers of hemp fleece and two layers of cotton terry, providing 8 layers of absorbency together. The inserts need 8-9 washes to be fully prepped.

bump

Because I couldn’t wait to try it on the little, this went OTB after 2 washes, and it functioned really well because for someone in a heavy wetter category, it held up for almost 5 hours. 😮 I can not imagine how long this will hold when it is fully prepped.

We also tested once for night time so far and it is working brilliantly. My LO sleeps about 9-10 hours straight and this worked well. There was only a slight dampness in the early morn. i used without the cover – maybe I will use a cover for night time.

This has been tested on my 19 month old son who is a heavy heavy wetter.

Final Say:

  • Most absorbent and leak-proof diapering option
  • Excellent solution for a heavy-wetter (particularly when combined with a wool cover)
  • Extremely Trim
  • The extra snaps in the front, allow it to be used for newborns as well, I would say.

Overall, a must have CD for a summer stash.

To enter the giveaway:

  • Follow  the hosts on Instagram
  • Leave a comment tagging your friends. One tag per comment. Multiple entries allowed.
  • Repost the giveaway post for additional entry, tagging both hosts.

T&C:

  • This giveaway is open for anyone with an Indian shipping address.
  • Ends on April 29th, 11:00 PM. Winner will receive a Bumpadum fitted of their choice. Now isn’t that a cool deal?

Happy Earth Day, fellas!

Hope you do your bit for the environment. My baby’s done his. 🙂

IMG_8570

A to Z challenge, AZ, Uncategorized

D is for …

Doctors!

Well, not the regular kind.. you know, the ones who check on your health. We are talking baby brands and these are the 3 doctors who have my vote:

Dr. Browns : Cannot imagine life without it. The most used product in the little one’s life so far… It helped my colicky baby get his milk. I was an EP-er, iykwtm.

drbrown

Dr. Seuss: Children’s books that adults can enjoy too. Deep stuff. Here are a few of my favorite ones. ‘ Oh the places you’ll go’ tops my list.

drseuss.jpg

We do like a lot of other children’s books as well. Highlighting this because I think Dr.Seuss is awesome. My son isn’t too into all of the Dr.Seuss books yet, but knowing him, I’m sure the day is coming.

Dr. Morepen: A digital thermometer is an absolute necessity in any household, more so in one with a tiny baby. Highly recommend this.

Dr_Morepen_Digital_Thermometer_24OnlineBazar-500x554

Apart from these doctors the pediatricians are awesome too.

 

Image courtesy: Google search images.

A to Z challenge, Uncategorized

C is for…

Cloth Diapering for Mummies & Daddies! Who likes to be labelled a dummy anyway… 😛

cdd
Throwback to one of the earliest pics from our CD-ing journey.

I’ve been a cloth diapering parent even before I learnt about modern cloth diapers – I guess most of us Indian parents are, thanks to the langots culture and the ‘PAMPERS or HUGGIES’ taboo, especially for newborn stage. It is all great – but I really wish I’d known about the various options that were available, ahead of time, so I didn’t have to sacrifice convenience or comfort (read: better sleep for the two of us.) If only someone had told me I could cloth diaper without having to have a water absorbent sheet underneath all the time, [these rubbery / fluffy sheets are a pain and keep the baby warmer than I’d like, so yeah, not a big fan of those] I’d have been over the moon.

Fast forward to 40 days later I was signed up on a facebook group by a lovely friend,  who was as much a noob as I was and we were quite determined to make this work for us. Modern cloth diapers are as easy to use as disposable diapers, offers the same dry feeling to the baby, are leak-proof but with no rash causing chemicals. I signed up for a starter pack from Tushions.in – this came with one of each kind. I liked pockets better and bought more of those from a ton of vendors** in India and a couple from Aliexpress. At that point we were using CDs throughout the day and needed a night time solution. There were various options available in the market – since each baby is different, and for different age groups and pee patterns, different diapers work well. For us, bumpadum was a clear winner. Superbottoms, Happyflute AIO were other options that worked well too.

There’s a ton of info on Cloth Diapering India community – so much info, that you may get overwhelmed. Remember, just take the plunge. Here are some off-the-top of my mind tips:

  • Invest in a couple of good quality diapers.
  • Invest also in a good number of diapers since you get more to use in rotation and hence lesser wear. Not to mention, lesser stress during winters waiting for the drying line to get dry quick. (unless ofcourse, you have a dryer)
  • For newborn diapering, get a couple of prefolds and snappis / boingos – these work better than any nappy pins, which I think are a hazard.
  • Have a good wash routine. CDs cannot handle detergent bars, fabric softeners etc.,. You need to invest in washing powders without fragrances and softeners. I use Tide original which is easily available. I’ve used Rustic art too – this one’s great and if you are part of the Bumpadum circle you get a discount code for 10% off. *thrifty* 😀

 

** Some of the vendors/brands I have bought from and recommend:

Alva

Cozybub

Bumapdum

Beetle diapers

Tushions 

Happy flute

Pororo

Smartbottoms

Superbottoms

CDS – Marvy

Training Pants from Kiddos & Aliexpress

Snappi

cd
This is probably 25% of my CD stash – all Bumpadum AIOs in this shot, cos I don’t have the time and energy to put together a great shot of the stash at this point. Will update laters 🙂

 

 

A to Z challenge, Uncategorized

B is for…

I am back again with my A to Z challenge, penning down best finds / brands (parenting support) I love.

B is for Bella Terra, Big Basket, Bril India, BSIM & BLW groups.

Bella Terra: I consider this one of my super finds – Cotton Fabric stuffed toys handcrafted to perfection and at really great prices! My personal favorite is the babywearing bears. So unique! The elephant doll at 200 odd bucks is such a sweet deal. All the soft toys from here are babysafe, eco-friendly, sustainable and come with the option to choose 100% natural stuffing.

bT

Bigbasket: A boon for all the tired parents. While some say that grocery shopping is like a fun trip for them, most of the parent folks that are raising a child without much support from outside, can seek modern technology’s help to make our lives simpler. E-commerce FTW. And big basket , more so, because with their sleek app, I could order groceries in the middle of the night from the comfort of my bed and have them delivered when I wake up. I consider this good use of wake up time, thanks to a baby that kept having a sleep regression every once in a while during his first year.

BSIM: A group that is primarily for mothers and expectant mothers. They also include their support system (irrespective of gender). If you are expecting or have a tiny human, JOIN. If you know a friend who falls under the aforementioned category, DO urge them to join. I really wish someone had added me earlier. I’d have been better informed and at peace with myself, knowing the baby better and saving on trips to the hospital, that was 25 kms away. Can’t stress this enough…JOIN. It helps set expectations right, about life after a baby. Trust me on this one. 🙂

Bril India: They make kickass balance bikes, the one that is highly recommended for kids starting to learn riding a cycle. Balance bikes are a fairly new concept in India, and this is the only Indian industrial manufacturer I think there is. The bikes are awesome!

bri
Fixing the wheels. We have a fix-it-upper

BLW: A way of life, to teach kids as young as 6 months old (which, btw, is the appropriate age to include solid food) to feed themselves. And did I say, only practice helps here and helping them understand and develop a great relationship with food by letting them explore textures and taste. There are a few basics you need to know – the right size and cuts of food (Did you know, a grape is a choking hazard and should always be halved before offered?) and other things, which will help you in your journey.

blw

What are your favorite ‘B’ brands / parenting tools?

A to Z challenge, AZ, Parenthood

A is for…

A is for Anmol, my very first baby wearing companion: I got these around the time they released their basic Soft Structured Carrier (SSC) – the most affordable one in the babywearing market, then. All I wanted was the baby carrier functionality for short walks around the apartment and so without any further research, I’d gotten this. It did take a while for the baby to get used to wearing — but once we crossed that phase, it was fun and liberating since I had my hands free to do other stuff like carrying groceries or essentials. An Anmol walk was part of our everyday affair and my time to bond with the baby and get some exercise in. Felt good. At one point of time, the baby would simply bask in the glory of the great outdoors and not utter a word and simply observe everything that was happening around him.

Special shout-out to an all supportive spouse, who loved it too:

AnmolBasicC

 

Fast forward 3 months, I got hooked to babywearing (ring slings for the indoor carries) and got an Anmol Roshini in a Diwali contest and it was then I realized the true awesomeness of a Full Wrap Converted SSC – so light, airy and oh so comfy! Overall, Anmol SSC have good shoulder padding and are very comfortable to wear, even for a newbie. The hood is nicely done and has no extra ends hanging – I love the design compared to other SSCs in the market. The hood supports the baby’s neck when tucked in. It’s got a side pocket that can fit your keys or phone. A design win!

You are welcome to come try it if you are in Chennai. There are many babywearing meetups that happen all over india. For more info, do join Babywearing India, a FB support group, that is extremely helpful.

bwi

The benefits of babywearing are enormous. I’d urge every parent to try this, for soon will come the day when your baby will refuse to be worn and carried. There are various options even DIY ones – Do your research and pick what suits your need the most.

A is also for Amazon : This was my first place to get everything. With a Prime subscription, the speed and customer service is just delightful, that I don’t really check on their competitors before buying from there. Best for buying NB baby stuff like diapers, wipes, etc at the cheapest rates. With global trader opened up, I wouldn’t mind paying import fees to get the better brands from overseas too.

A is for Aliexpress: For all the quirky stuff, organizers and other baby stuff that are overpriced, here in India. If you plan well ahead, then you should totally buy from here. I wish I’d bought the many many nursery decor stuff from here, before baby AZ arrived. There are tons of pretty options there when you search for ‘kids’ , ‘nursery’ etc.,. To date, I have bought a couple of toys, organizers etc from there. Total value for money.