Four Tips for Introducing New Foods at Meals

1. Easy Does It

When we’re offering new foods to our children, we want to make the experience underwhelming for them rather than overwhelming. Also, key word there: offer, not force. In other words, we have to give them small amounts of the foods we’re trying to get them to passionately love one day. For example, if you have a bowl of peas, you’ll want to put a small portion on their plates and also, be mindful of how much of their favorite food you’re putting on the plate as well. Offer a small portion of the favorite food and an even smaller portion of the new food.. If you absolutely fill up their plate with their favorite food, they’re less likely to have room for their least favorite foods. So, try to offer them just a small portion of their favorite food and a very small portion of the new food you are offering.

2. Give Choices
Even better than you putting a small portion on their plates, ask them if they’d like to serve themselves (if they’re able to do this without throwing the bowl off of the table, falling into the bowl of peas, etc.) Ask them if they’d like to serve with the blue spoon or the green spoon. Or ask them on which part of the plate they would like this small serving of peas. If you give them some options, they feel more in control of the situation and will be more likely to let that food be invited onto their plate. And having a say in what we eat and how much we eat is something we all like regardless of our age.

3.If At First You Don’t Succeed

If at first you don’t succeed, you might need to try about ten to twelve times. Studies have shown that children with more limited diets might need to see a food and be close to it without even eating it between ten to twenty times before they’re willing to try it. Sometimes if we offer something once and a child says no, we think, that’s it. He doesn’t like it. But, sometimes it’s a matter of exposure.

4. If You’re Happy & You Know It
Show your enjoyment of the food you’re eating. The goal isn’t to make your child feel compelled to try the food but rather, to show that this food is good, safe, and tasty. If while you’re eating, you tell your spouse, “thanks for making this cauliflower. It’s so delicious!”  and your child chimes in to say, “No, it’s yucky! It’s disgusting!” your response might be to say, “no it’s not! You don’t mean that. Cauliflower is amazing!” Well your kiddo doesn’t think so, and it’s alright that your child has not so positive feelings towards cauliflower. We have to be okay with kids having their feelings and feeling their feelings. We aren’t going to talk them out of how they feel. Instead, we can use this as a teaching moment, “Josh, I hear you saying you don’t like this food and that’s ok. We can see though that other people like it and we want to let people enjoy the things they like.”  Try to bring it to a level they can understand, without getting upset about it or feeling like your child needs to change their feelings around it. For kids who are getting a little older, they may need to modify how they’re talking about food to be sensitive to other people eating around them, but remember, these are all lessons learned little by little. It’s okay that they have their feelings and it’s also okay to teach them to be respectful of what other people enjoy. Find times when you’re calmer and cooler to use these moments to teach about respecting other people’s food choices and being able to express themselves.

Why Your Child Might Be a Picky Eater

Why does your child want the same foods over and over again? Why are mealtimes a struggle? We might think he’s just being stubborn, like his dad. Or that he just really loves those veggie straws. There is a chance though that there are underlying issues that are making eating more challenging, even uncomfortable for your child. As a speech therapist who works with children with feeding challenges, part of my work is to screen for underlying causes to picky eating and refer to other healthcare specialists so that your child is at their best for learning to eat new foods. I recommend parents take a look at the following:

1. Check up on those teeth. How are your child’s teeth? Do they need a dental check up? Are they super anxious about letting anyone near their mouths? Find a good pediatric dentist to rule out cavities or other issues that might be making chewing uncomfortable.

2. How are the things going in the bathroom? If your child isn’t using the bathroom daily, there may be a reason he doesn’t want to eat. If you had an upset, bloated stomach, think of how painful eating would be. Talk with your doctor about why he might not be going to the bathroom. A common cause of constipation can be too little fiber. And I realize your child isn’t at the stage where they’re going to start munching on brussell sprouts, but don’t worry, we’ll get there. Another reason behind less frequent visits to the bathroom  can be due to a food sensitivity with dairy being the number one culprit. Talk to your doctor to find out why (he may refer you to an allergist, a dietitian, or a nutritionist) and in the meantime, we’ll also discuss other ways to get in that fiber!

3. The five senses. Your child’s five senses (actually six senses when we include their vestibular system which means  their sense of balance) can impact their ability to eat. If your child appears to be very sensitive to touch or seeks out a lot of touch (like they’re crashing into everything all of the time), becomes easily upset or seem to get overwhelmed by noise, there may be a sensory processing issue occurring. An occupational therapist specialized in this area can help your child learn to integrate the sight, sound, touch, smell, and visual (and balance) information that they’re getting so that the body is in a calmer, more ready state to eat.

4. Tethered oral tissue. Tethered oral tissue refers to lip or tongue attachments (tongue ties) that may be causing your child difficulty having the range of motion they need with their tongue and/or lips to chew their food. If your child had difficulty breastfeeding that wasn’t due to milk supply but more so to latch, this can be a good indicator. An SLP or OT specialized in this area can help to identify when a tethered oral tissue may be impacting feeding and refer to an ENT or dentist for a diagnosis. If your child is still breastfeeding, it would be best to speak with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultation.

5.  Abs of Steel? If your child has core weakness or has a condition that results in hypotonia (low muscle tone), they may have more difficulty eating. If your child does not have the strength to sit up without staying propped up constantly on their elbows or without leaning forward or backward when eating, your child may need improved muscle strength and precision to be a better eater. Working with a physical therapist, occupational therapist, or speech therapist depending on where the areas of weakness are can improve your child’s ability to eat.

It can feel like quite the journey at times to get at the root of a child’s feeding difficulties. It is a journey well worth taking as a child’s eating habits are a strong predictor of their health as an adult. Often children have had an underlying condition or difficulty with chewing a certain texture of food and have learned to avoid entire food textures, food groups, or everything but Veggie Straws. Understanding why you child might be having difficulty feeding gives us more compassion for his difficulties at mealtime and helps us to get to the root cause so that we get them feeding better and being healthier sooner. This information is intended to substitute medical advice. If you have any concerns about your child’s feeding, speak with your doctor.

Five Activities Outside of Mealtime to Help Your Picky Eater

Let me start off this post with a disclaimer. I do not think that we should call children picky eaters, at least not to their faces. Or at all 🙂 Labeling a child like that can really in grain in them that this is who they are- a child who doesn’t like many foods, especially those healthy foods we want them to eat. I write about picky eaters because that’s what first comes to mind when your child pushes that bowl of soup aside or throws the carrots off the table- that he’s being picky!  Yes, some of their actions are based on behaviors and these behaviors are driving you bonkers. But, we want to change our mindset about what a picky eater is- a child that for whatever reason, usually not to just make you mad, has decided that certain foods are safe and others are not safe to eat. Often we try to insist on new foods and in large amounts when your child may have only a few preferred foods and this leads to meltdowns at mealtimes. So, I have some suggestions that involve increasing your child’s positive experiences with food and ability to connect with food outside of mealtime so that eventually, he allows for a few peas on the plate, and then with time a whole lot of peas and yeah, maybe that steamed asparagus stalk too.
Angry Child

1. Take your child shopping. Some days grocery shopping is more like go-cart racing as you frantically make your way through the aisles to get home in time to make dinner. On the days though when you have a little extra time, use it as an opportunity to teach your child about new foods and explore. Stroll around the grocery store and pick up, smell, tap on the food, and talk about it. Talk about fruits and vegetables like the super heroes they are and all that they do for our bodies. Ask your child if you should name the broccoli King Broccoli or Super Broccoli. Grocery store time can be a great time to connect with and educate your child about food.

2. Play with your food. Outside of mealtime, have children play with their food. Why would you do that? Why would you waste food? As babies, children develop their comfort around food through touch. First the hand gets the sense of how an object feels and then the food (or the baby shoe) goes into their mouth. Some children have not had this input. They need to have the food at a safe enough distance to explore and touch (many times) before they’re willing to put it in their mouths. in order to feel comfortable around food. Make faces using a few different vegetables carrot stick smiles and grape eyes. Drive cars through chia seed pudding (the chia seeds you bought in bulk from Costco, because no, you don’t need to spend a ton of money each time you do this.) Remember, your child doesn’t need to eat these foods. It’s just to offer exposure.

3. Get plenty of exercise. If children are spending too much time in sedentary positions, time on the i-pad or in front of the television, they may have difficulty getting their appetites going. Before a meal, try taking your child to the park or if you have the space in your home, toss a ball back and forth. If you can get your child to a state in which they’ve exerted some effort, they’re calmer (but not totally exhausted) then you might get better results at the table.

4. Read about it. My parents tell me that I was quite a picky eater when I was younger, although I don’t recall ever saying no to anything. I do, however, remember them reading me the book, “Gregory the Terrible Eater” many times. It’s about a goat whose parents can’t get him to chomp down on boots or eat buttons. Gregory, instead, wants to eat fruits and vegetables, much to his parents dismay. The book ends with Gregory and his parents compromising. Gregory will eat some food from the junk yard mixed in with his favorites.  There are some fun books out there, “I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato”  Also, for children with more challenging feeding skills, social stories around food may be appropriate. A social story basically describes how children can navigate a challenging situation in easy to understand language. It’s a very non-judgmental, straight forward approach. You can even create your own social stories. Also, are goats really known for eating everything?

5. Praise your child’s effort for any new attempts. Remember what it was like when you were a child and that at times, there were foods you didn’t want to eat. Even now, if another adult were to prepare something that you didn’t quite like, it would be tempting to fake a stomach ache.  Remember that our words have power. We want to avoid labeling our child by their actions. Instead, let’s look at any effort that they’ve put forth and praise that. “Wow, thank you for helping dad choose some healthy foods for our family at the store. I see you put spinach in the cart.”  “Look at that effort you made smelling that orange and holding it in your hands.”  Again, look for the positive things that they have done and build momentum. It’s not about them being compliant or picky. It’s about the effort that they make to do difficult things. For some children, eating a salad with all of the different textures and  flavors is a huge achievement. It’s good to recognize when they make strides, no matter how small they are and focus on the effort they’ve made rather than labeling them.

Signs of a Feeding Issue and when to speak further with your doctor about seeing a feeding speciailist (a speech-language pathologist or occupational therapist):

  • Dietary restriction your child eats less than twenty different foods
  • Tantrums/becomes very upset when offered new foods and will not tolerate new foods on their plate
  • Refuses certain food textures completely
  • Meal times are often stressful and your child does not typically eat what other family members eat
  • Lack of growth and weight gain

Please remember, this is not a substitute for healthcare advice. If you have any concerns around your child’s feeding, please speak with your pediatrician.

Language & Feeding

Today outside of the therapy clinic where I work, I was speaking with an occupational therapist about oral motor exercises. Yes, there is a lot of debate around oral motor exercises and there are definitely reasons for controversy about some approaches. However, I think it’s wise to look at the evidence-based hierarchy, which includes clinical-expertise and expert opinion, and take these into account when we look at our therapy approaches. This way we do not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Nancy, the OT, and I were chatting about how she often sees improvement in speech when she begins intervention for feeding. And she has said that parents report seeing the same at home. In fact, I can very clearly remember a session Nancy and I had together many years ago where we were co-treating a little guy at a pediatric clinic.  I was pulling out every trick I had up my sleeve to try to get some vocalization out of this little one: singing, using exclamatory phrases while knocking over blocks, animal sounds, you name it. And then Nancy approaches him to begin her feeding therapy. She uses vibration on his mouth with something very similar to a Z-Vibe. And this little guy started humming. He hummed and then turned those hums into very slight babbles of /meh meh meh/. When Nancy removed the Z-Vibe, there was still an occasional hum coming from him. Although it took me many years to really start considering the oral-motor component, when I studied feeding therapy, I went back down the oral-motor rabbit hole. I came across an interesting article that shows that children with a prior history of feeding-swallowing difficulties have a higher incidence of language learning disabilities. I wanted to share this article.

The relationship between language impairment and feeding difficulties

The article looked at the relationship between difficulties with feeding and swallowing (poor latching as infants, food transition difficulties, food selectivity, salivary control difficulties). The children in the study were not diagnosed with a feeding or swallowing disorder. This was a retrospective analysis where 48% of the children with a language impairment but not an overall gross or fine motor impairment showed prior histories of feeding-swallowing concerns. Children with language impairment were three times more likely to have a history of feeding-swallowing concerns than the general population.  Although language impairment and feeding-swallowing difficulties have often been considered unrelated behaviors, there is new interest in whether there is some type of cross over between the two systems. As the authors wrote, “Neurological disease or damage in the adult often results in cross-system impairments in language and feeding and common neurological structures underlying these seemingly diverse behaviors have been implicated.”

Possible Explanations for the Relationship

The authors point to a few explanations about why feeding and speech impairments may be related to language impairment. 1. The difficulties with feeding-swallowing may negatively impact language learning opportunities by possibly decreasing language stimulation and interaction at mealtimes. 2. The oral motor difficulties in chewing and sucking might influence later neurodevelopmental outcomes and as the authors write,    “[studies] found that term infants with reduced sucking efficiency at 2 weeks postnatal age had minor to severe neurodevelopmental disabilities at 18 months, as measured by global neuromotor, language, and cognitive assessments. They suggested that sucking proficiency may actually provide insights into the “integrity of the nervous system” of developing infants.”

The purpose of this study is to identify children sooner who may be at risk for language impairment. I think it also brings some interesting questions to the table about the cross-over between what have typically been thought of as two distinct systems (the system of oral motor movements for feeding and swallowing with those for speech and language).

Also, I realize that Nancy’s observations alone do not provide a strong evidence base for oral motor and speech sound production, although she is a keen observer. However, there are many experts who, although not researchers, have gathered evidence to support the relationship between oral-motor differences and speech and language production. Diane Bahr, for example, has excellent materials and research that she very generously shares with all who ask.




How our Sensorimotor System May Affect Speech Perception

Hello fellow SLPs

Ok this post goes a little deep but it’s pretty interesting and worth the read (in my humble opinion), especially for those of  you working with children with speech sound disorders.

It’s pretty well accepted that when we don’t perceive sounds accurately, we have little chance of producing them accurately. You’ve seen this firsthand when you try to imitate something in a language you don’t speak and a native speaker shakes his head as you stumble through his language. In your mind, your pronunciation was fairly good. But, unless you were exposed to Italian as a baby, it’s obvious as soon as you say bongiorno that you are not a native speaker. (By the way, for any of you who have seen Inglourious Bastards, do you not crack up as Brad Pitt’s character tries to pass for a native Italian speaker?!) Our brains weren’t primed as infants to hear the phones in non-native languages and so we have little chance of imitating them with native-like speech. We also know that for babies with hearing loss, their vowel shapes and babbling are not the same as their normally hearing peers. So, when we don’t perceive phones, we don’t produce them accurately. This is a given.   What may come as news to many SLP’s though is how articulation of sounds may affect perception of sounds, according to a recent study.

What do I mean by that?

In this study, researchers wanted to see how restriction of the articulators would impact a baby’s ability to perceive a speech sound.   In an infant’s brain there are pathways that support the “auditory-to-motor” mappings meaning that the brain sends cues down to the articulators when certain sounds are heard. This study proposes that there is a loop with speech perception and speech production. New sounds are processed in the brain and then produced by the articulators and that the articulators being able to produce the sound also reinforces recognition of that sound by the brain.

When a novel sound is introduced to an infant, they attend more to this sound.  This study divided babies into groups who were exposed to a speech sound that is not discriminated by adults because of neural pruning that happens usually around 9-12 months of life. But, small babies who have not yet had neural pruning do identify subtle differences in phones across languages. In one group, the researchers “restricted” the tongue by placing a baby mouthing toy in the babies’ mouths where they would typically produce the sound. The babies were then exposed to the nonnative phoneme (a sound in Hindi). In another group, the babies were not given anything to mouth so their articulators were not blocked. They were then exposed to the nonnative sound. Babies whose articulatory placement was blocked attended less to the nonnative sound (which was measured by babies trying to localize the sound).  The sound was a lingual alveolar sound, so having a chewy toy effectively blocked placement. Well, what if the babies weren’t attending because they had something in their mouths which focused their attention on mouthing rather than locating sounds? So a third group was designed to rule this out. In the third group, the babies were given a mouthing toy that was gummy and flexible and allowed their tongue to move to the alveolar ridge. And this group of babies did attend to the novel sound similar to the group with no chewy toy. So, what does this study mean about what we think is a unidirectional learning of sounds (i.e. only from the brain to the articulators rather than a feedback loop.)  

This study indicates that the ability to articulate a sound can influence how it is perceived in the auditory system.

The authors of this study hypothesize that impairments in the motor function of the articulators can also affect speech perception. If speech perception were affected, wouldn’t language also be affected as children with oral-motor differences may not be perceiving the phonemes of their own language that they are hearing.  They also state that, “This raises the question of whether speech perception is compromised in clinical populations with congenital oral–motor deficiencies or dysmorphologies. At present, these children are given speech therapy to improve their production skills, but no consideration is given to whether their perception is also affected by differences in their
productive systems (i.e. Bruderer, et al.”

I find this study interesting and there are few others that I have found like it, but I’m hoping that this area will continue to gain interest among researchers as many clinicians attest to seeing an oral-motor difference linked to a speech perception connection. My next post will be a follow up on this one as well as discussing a relationship between the sensorimotor system and language delays. Grazie!


Technology & Your Toddler Part 3

First of all, I realize that it’s not so helpful for me to tell you to turn off your child’s screen without giving a. a reason to do so and b. some alternatives. So, here we go:

A. Let’s me just remind you about what I’ve discussed in other posts. Why can’t we let toddlers and babies watch hours of TV and i-pad?

  • Even if your baby or toddler is hearing the ABC’s sung to him or watching Dora as she takes her bilingual bike trip through the park, these activities might not be developmentally appropriate (as in their brains aren’t ready to understand what’s happening and can’t process the information any better than they could soak in a lesson on algebra or comprehend the  debate on why or why not we should leave NATO.) Babies and toddlers learn words, emotions, thinking skills, etc. through using many of their senses, such as playing with blocks, looking at books, pushing a train, and especially when this learning is done with another person.
  • Peaceful moments *can* come at a price. If your baby/toddler stays busy and quiet with screen time now, later on, she might have more difficulty paying attention, sitting down, and learning. Dr. Dimitri Christakis, a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Washington, says that in the first two years of life, the brain triples in size. Connections that form in the brain, or synapses, are based on early life experiences. Over-exposure to rapid image changes during these first years of critical brain development, which is what cartoons essentially are, preconditions the mind to expect high levels of stimulation. This can make for a fidgety, inattentive child when it’s time to go to school. Studies have linked higher amounts of screen time before three years of age with attention problems in school. Eventually you gotta pay the Pied Piper for the peace that comes with your child being glued to a device. But, there are other options that can be great for babies brain and for getting things done on your to-do list.

In following up on my last post, I want to offer some ideas for developmentally appropriate activities for your child that do not involve technology and that can be done mostly independently.

I suggest, first of all, baby proofing your home. There are companies who will actually come and do this for you! This one was recommended by a physical therapist who works with babies and toddlers.  This way when you need to start cooking while baby is playing, you’ll know that your baby is in a safe environment.

Here are my favorite activities according to age group:

One-Year-Old- Stock up on some of those touchy-feely books that babies can handle. This provides some sensory input and is a good way to get them interested in books from a young age.

Two-Years-Old- Puzzles. Those big chunky puzzles (not the ones with small pieces) can provide independent play time for your small child.

Three-Years-Old- Pretend play. This is a great time to get your three year old some costumes (i.e. your old clothes you were planning on donating) and some play food and let them spend time using their imagination to make creations in their kitchen.

Four & Five-Years-Old- Arts & crafts! Finally they are old enough to play with some simple crafts without eating them (unless your child does eat them in which case, head on back up to the pretend play). These wipe off crayons from Melissa & Doug are great for easy clean up.

I also asked a mom’s group what some of their favorite activities are for their baby and toddler. Here they are in no particular order

For baby:

  • Look at fish in your aquarium (if you have one)- this by the way is awesome. Because yes, the baby is looking at something for long periods of time but it’s not that rapid, frequently changing images that’s really overstimulating.
  • A wooden spoon and a big metal bowl (why overthink it, right?)
  • A box of tissues. It’ll buy twenty minutes while you’re prepping dinners although there is some clean up involved.

For toddler:

  • Fridge magnets (great way to keep them close too. If they are still putting things in their mouths though,  then you’ll want to wait until they’re past that mouthing stage.
  • Train sets (usually they get interested in these around 18-24 months of age)
  • Blocks
  • Magnatiles- some parents say their kids play with these for years and years to come
  • A cup and water in a bucket for water play (warning, this might get messy!)

Thank you for the sharing, Moms in the Bay Area!

Share the activities your child most loves that are technology free!

La Tecnologia y Tu Hijo Parte 2

Aquí doy seguimiento de la primera publicación sobre el uso de la tecnología con tu hijo pequeño. Estamos inundados de la tecnología. Existen apps interminables en los teléfonos, y nuevas notificaciones de Facebook para averiguar. No hay mucha información todavia sobre los efectos de tanta tecnología en la salud emocional y físicamente, especialmente en los niños pequeños. En las investigaciones que he hecho, he encontrado algunos consejos para equilibrar el uso de la tecnología para que no se apodere de tu vida o la vida de tu pequeño.

La tecnología no es ni buena ni mala.

La tecnología tiene su lugar en el hogar. Hay quien dice que toda la tecnología es terrible mientras otros piensan que algunas horas (o muchas, muchas horas) no lleva ningun riesgo. Y claro algunos vendedores de apps que son muy furtivos quieren que creas que tu hijo puede aprender todo con los i-phones. No necesitamos evitar por completo la tecnología, solo necesitamos manejarla bien. ¿Cuánto es demasiado? ¿Dejo que mi hijo tenga acceso libre a todo que sus deditos pequeños pueden buscar en el YouTube?
Para niños menores de dos años, la Academia Estadounidense de Pediatría recomienda lo siguiente:

Para niños menores de 18 meses, usa el teléfono para conversar con familiares. Usarlo por otras razones, como entretener al bebé mientras cocinas no es recomendable.

No te preocupes! Voy a compartir más ideas sobre qué hacer cuando necesites entretener el bebe porque hay que duchar a menudo, ¿verdad?

Para niños de 18 meses a cinco años de edad, limite el tiempo de pantalla a una hora por día. Y asegúrete de que sea un tiempo de pantalla de alta calidad.

¿Qué se entiende por tiempo de pantalla de alta calidad? T.V. Shows como Sesame Street o PBS Kids son buenos canales para visitar. Los médicos recomiendan que los padres pasen tiempo viendo estos programas con los chiquitos para que les expliquen lo que están viendo y para que sea una actividad mas interactiva.

La tecnología no es buena o mala también significa que no la usamos como recompensa o como castigo. ¿Qué qué? Sí, eso es correcto. Diciéndole a tu hijo: “Si te portas bien aquí en la tienda, te dejaré ver una hora extra de t.v.” Casi nunca es efectivo en el momento de obtener un mejor comportamiento de tu hijo, pero también crea esta energía (lo sé, que término más académico, correcto, pero explicome mejor) sobre el teléfono o i-pad. En su libro, Como Hablar Para Que Los Niños Escuchen, Faber & King dicen que cuando algo (como la tecnologia) se torna en una recompensa o en un castigo, crea más deseo por ello. Ahora, si tu hijo hace algo como tirar el teléfono a su hermano, entonces sí, le quitas la tecnología (el teléfono) pero prohibir la tecnología durante un mes, por ejemplo, no hará que tu hijo pierda interés en tecnología. Ellos simplemente estarán bastante molestos por eso y luego tendrás que dar marcha atrás cuando des cuenta que la prohibición de un mes haya sido un poco extrema.

Cómo desactivar la tecnología

Cuando se acabe el tiempo de usar la pantalla, y hacer otra actividad, hay algunos consejos para facilitar estas transiciones.

  • Deles una advertencia de cinco minutos (y luego una advertencia de dos minutos si lo necesitan). Si tiene algo visual, como una alarma, eso es aún mejor.
  • Cante una canción de despedida a la tecnología y apáguela.
  • Si su hijo se enoja y llora, reconoce que es triste despedirse de una actividad. Está bien que se sientan tristes los hijos. No tienes que ceder y devolverle el teléfono. Solo hazles saber que escuchas que están tristes.
  • Una vez que tu hijo esté tranquilo, dale opciones de cuál será la próxima actividad, si es posible (por ejemplo, ¿Quieres jugar con los camiones ahora o quieres salir y correr?)

La experiencia enseña a los niños pequeños, no la tecnología

Los niños pequeños aprenden a través de la experiencia e interaccion con otras personas. Claro, hay algunas canciones divertidas en YouTube y algunos videos geniales en Sesame Street que pueden ser divertidos, pero el verdadero aprendizaje está en el intercambio de estas canciones con un padre.

Aqui hay otras ideas de como pueden limitar la tecnologia

  • Desactive el ruido de fondo. Jugando t.v. en el fondo está relacionado con peores resultados para el lenguaje y la cognición.
  • ¡Los libros son mejores para el aprendizaje que la tecnologia! Lean libros a menudo con tus hijos. Si a tu hijo no parece gustarle los libros, consulta mi última publicación sobre lectura de libros o visite Colorin Colorado para obtener algunas ideas sobre cómo darle vida a la lectura de su libro.
  • Usa la tecnología sabiamente Common Sense Media ofrece algunas ideas fantásticas sobre cómo usar la tecnología sabiamente y en español. ¡Suscríbete a las nuevas publicaciones a continuación y envía cualquier pregunta que puedas tener!

Technology and Your Toddler Part 2

This is a follow up from my first post on using technology with your toddler. We are inundated with technology from endless apps on our phones to constant questions for Alexa. There’s not a lot of information yet about the effects of so much technology on us socially, emotionally, and physically, especially on toddlers. From what I’ve researched, I’ve come up with some tips to balance out technology use so that it doesn’t take over your life or the life of your little one.

Technology is neither good nor bad. 

Technology has its place in the home. Some parents are told that all technology is terrible while others feel that a few hours (or many, many hours) a day of technology is a good thing. Some sneaky marketers out there want you to believe that your child can learn anything and everything from apps. We don’t need to be afraid of technology, we just need to be educated about how to use it. How much is too much? Do I let my child have free access to all of the YouTube that his little fingers can find and somehow manages to find despite being only three and not knowing how to read?! Below are recommendations on smart technology use from the AAP.

For children under two years of age, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following:

  • For children under 18 months of age, use the phone for chatting conversations with relatives. Using it for other reasons, like to entertain baby when you’re cooking, using the bathroom, etc. isn’t encouraged.

Don’t worry, I’ll share more ideas though on what to do when you do need to take that daily shower and baby is bored in my next post.

  • For children 18 months to five years of age, limit screen time to one hour per day. And make sure it is high quality screen time.

What is meant by high quality screen time? T.V. Shows like Sesame Street or PBS Kids are good channels to go to. It’s recommended that you spend time watching these show with them so that they understand what they’re seeing.

Technology not being good or bad also means that we don’t use it as a reward or a punishment. Wait, what? Yep, that’s right. Telling your child, “If you are good here at the store, I will let you watch an extra hour of t.v.” is rarely effective in the moment to get better behavior but it also creates this energy (I know, such a an academic term, right, but stay with me) around the phone or i-pad. In their book, How to Talk So Small Children Listen, Faber & King discuss that by making something, like technology, the object of a reward or punishment, you create more desire for it. Now, if your child does do something like throw the phone at his sibling, then yes, you’re taking away the technology (the phone) but banning technology for a month for instance, isn’t going to make your child lose interest in technology. They’ll just be pretty upset about it and then you might have to back peddle two weeks in when you realize that the month long ban was a bit extreme.

How to Turn Off the Technology

When it is time for your child to transition to a different activity, here’s a few tips to make those transitions easier

  1. Give them a five minute warning (and then maybe a two minute warning if they need it.) If you have a visual timer, that’s even better.
  2. Sing a goodbye song to the technology and turn it off.
  3. If your child is getting upset and crying, acknowledge that it’s sad to say goodbye to an activity. It’s okay for them to feel sad. You don’t have to give in and give the phone back. Just let them know you hear that they’re sad.
  4. Once your child is calm, give your child options of what the next activity will be, if possible (i.e. Do you want to play with the trucks now or do you want to go outside and run around?)

Experience Teaches Toddlers Not Technology

Toddlers learn through experience and interacting with other people. Sure, there are some fun songs on YouTube and some super cute videos on Sesame Street that can be fun but the real learning is in the sharing of these songs with a parent.

  • Turn off the background noise. Playing t.v. in the background is linked with worse outcomes for language and cognition.
  • Books are better for learning than apps! Read books often with your children. If your child doesn’t seem to like books, check out my last post on book reading or visit Colorin Colorado for some ideas on how to spice up your book reading.

Use technology wisely. Common Sense Media offers some fantastic ideas on how to use technology wisely. Please subscribe to new posts below and send in any questions you might have!


Tu Hijo Y La Tecnologia

Hola padres! Empecé por escribir este artículo para hablar sobre la importancia de establecer límites con tu hijo y el tiempo que pasa en frente de la pantalla. Cuando me senté y comencé a navegar por los artículos en el internet, me di cuenta de que antes de controlar el acceso de los niños a la tecnología, tenemos que controlar el nuestro. Estudios recientes informan que los niños sienten que sus padres están pasando demasiado tiempo frente a la pantalla y que no sienten que sus padres les estén prestando suficiente atención. ¡Ay! Esta publicación de blog no tiene la intención de avergonzar a ningún padre. Hay muchas cosas que tenemos que hacer durante el día usando el celular.  Nuestros días están llenos de quehaceres y las notificaciones nunca se detienen. Además, el uso excesivo de la tecnología puede ser una forma de lidiar con la ansiedad y la depresión. Definitivamente vale la pena examinar nuestros hábitos para ver por qué podríamos estar usando algo en exceso. Entonces, ¿qué pueden hacer los padres? Aquí hay algunas maneras de comenzar:

  • Siempre saluda a tu hijo, ya sea en la mañana antes de la escuela o cuando lleguen a casa, sin telefono en mano, con un abrazo, un beso y un “¡Te quiero!”
  • Encuentra 15-30 minutos cada día para jugar con juguetes o leer libros. Jugar con plastilina, muñecos, autos o hacer burbujas son excelentes formas de conectarte con tu hijo y desconectarte de la tecnología. ¡Este sitio web de TRUCE tiene algunas ideas geniales en español sobre cómo comenzar a jugar!
  • Guarda el celular fuera de las habitacones. Al final del día, cuando sea el momento de darles un beso de buenas noches a sus hijos, primero dejen los teléfonos en la sala de estar para recargarse, y lleva a tus hijos a sus dormitorios. Terminen la noche con tiempo juntos, sin distracciones. Al darle a tu hijo tiempo sin distracciones,  aumentarás su lenguaje y habilidades de pensamiento. ¡La tecnología podría dominar el mundo pero nunca hará que tu trabajo como padre sea irrelevante!

Suscríbete a continuación abajo donde dice ¨follow blog¨ para recibir notificaciones de nuevos articulos. Esté atento a mi próxima publicación donde discuto cómo manejar el uso del teléfono de tu hijo y qué actividades pueden hacer para no solo mantenerlos ocupadoss sino que para que aprendan también!

Technology & Your Toddler

Hi Parents! I started out writing this article to talk about setting limits around screen time with your child. When I sat down and started browsing through the articles online, I realized that before we control our toddler’s access to technology, we need to control our own.  Recent studies report that children feel their parents are using too much screen time and that they don’t feel like their parents are paying enough attention to them. Yikes!   This blog post is in no way intended to shame any parent out there. There are a lot of things we can get done on our phones, our days are busy, and the notifications never stop. Also, overusing technology may be a way to cope with anxiety and depression. It’s definitely worth examining our habits to see why we might be using something in excess. So, what can parents do? Here are a few ways to get started:

  • Always greet your child, whether in the morning before school or when they come home, phone down and out of your hand, with a hug, a kiss, and an I love you!
  • Find 15-30 minutes each day for play with toys or reading books. Playing with playdough, dolls, cars, or blowing bubbles are all great ways to connect to each other and disconnect from tech. Chase each other around the park or build a tent. This website from TRUCE has some great ideas on how to get started in play!
  • Keep your bedrooms device free. At the end of the day, when it’s time to kiss your children goodnight, first leave the phones in the living room to recharge, tell them goodnight, and then take your children to their bedrooms. End the evening with time spent face to face.

By giving your child some one on one time, you will boost their language and thinking skills. Technology might be taking over the world but it will never make your job as a parent irrelevant!

Subscribe below to receive updates on new blogs. Watch for my next post where I discuss how to manage your child’s phone use and what activities you can use that won’t just keep them busy but will keep them learning!