Saturday, January 18, 2014


When we first started therapy for Ruby, I felt overwhelmed by the thought of picking out the *right* type of toys to help her advance in her gross and fine motor skills. We got rid of 99% of Eli and Maddux's baby toys, so we were starting from scratch anyway, might as well make sure we made our purchases count. I read blogs and reviews for hours on end about the pros and cons of most any toy you can think of for a 0-12month old. I'm sure I learned what most other parents of ANY child learns: to each their own. What works for some may not work for others, and Ruby is going to like and learn from what Ruby likes and learns from.

That being said, we've definitely found some tools that proved to be more beneficial for Ruby. I'll list them below and briefly give a reason. Hopefully this will help other new parents looking for a place to start.

LeapFrog Spin and Sing Alphabet
Ruby. Loves. This. I definitely credit this toy to Ruby's progress with reaching while in a prone position, and sitting in a kneeling or side-sitting position for longer than she would have without it. This toy is not too loud, has 3 settings of songs (though they all run together when your child plays with this toy on end, like Ruby does), and it's the perfect height to access while lying down or while sitting. PLUS, it's hard to knock over, so when Ruby was younger she could swipe at it with all of her might and it would stay upright for her.

Fisher Price 1-2-3 Crawl Along Snail
This is another of Ruby's all-time favorites. This snail moves as it 'sings', and she becomes mesmerized by it. The one thing that isn't great is it moves so much that it often ends up on the other side of the room when Ruby pushes it. This will come in handy once she starts crawling, but for now, Mommy ends up chasing it.

Therapy Chewy Tubes
We picked these up as soon as I noticed Ruby starting to gnaw on my fingers during her oral exercises. These tubes allow her to chomp down as hard as she'd like while she practices her chewing skills, and the different sizes and textures give her sensory therapy.

Vtech Move & Crawl Ball
This is becoming another favorite of Ruby's. This ball rolls around (on it's own) and signs and talks, but with a tolerable volume. (That is VERY important to Mommy's ears!) The ball continues to move as long as it is touched or pushed, but stops when it isn't played with. It moves in a circular pattern, so it ends up rolling away from Ruby and then back to her. She's gotten bonked on the head by it a few times, but it moves so gently that she's never minded. :)

I started using the Z-vibe with Ruby when she was about 3-months old. Before she would nurse, I would pop that gentle vibrating thing on her lips, then inside of her cheeks, and on her tongue for maybe two minutes total. This helps 'wake up' her oral muscles to more efficiently nurse.

Summer Infant Seat
Our Physical Therapist brought us this seat when Ruby was just a few months old. While we had a bumbo, it didn't seem to offer the right support for her when she was younger. This seat was shaped just different enough so that we could stuff a few burp cloths and wash clothes in there to make it work. Plus the spinnable 'tray' has fun things on there. I still use this with Ruby when I'm getting dinner prepped; now that she's big enough to not need any fillers, she works on her sitting while in there.

Honey Bear Straw Cup
We started Ruby with this as soon as we started offering her solids at five months. Most kids with low muscle tone are advised to use straws rather than traditional sippy cups, to help strengthen the muscles and gets them to focus their efforts in the right areas. When we first started, we put the straw on her tongue and squeezed the bear a little to let Ruby know that liquid would come through the straw. Then she figured it out and we were able to stop 'helping' her very soon after. For about a month, 90% of the liquid would fall back out of her mouth because once she stopped sucking, she would totally relax her lips and they would open. Now she's more of a pro and we only lose a few drops here and there.

Sweat Bands
This is our own invention. Our physical therapist started talking about hip helpers for Ruby right out of the gate. (Low muscle tone tends to make babies legs splay out wide, and their muscles learn to do things in a less than desirable way. Hip helpers keep their legs together which allows them to learn to move with their legs in proper alignment.) While she was not big enough for them yet, when she did tummy time, or back time, or bath time, or anytime she was not being held by us, we would wrap one of these around her upper thighs. Now that she's older and stronger, we have to twist them once or twice, to add some tension, but we still use them. Her hip-helpers are great, but between the stroller, upstairs, downstairs, and play dates, the sweat bands have served us better. We have at least a dozen of them scattered in different places so there is always one accessible.

1 comment:

Sarah Jones said...

What sort of headbands do you use?