Does your child have a delay in their speech? I’ll show you the most helpful food board where you can help your toddler work on their speech and play a game at the same time.
This is a sponsored post from our friends at The Genius of Play. This post contains affiliate links and all opinions are my own.
Malakai was born at 24.5 weeks gestation. We knew when we got pregnant again, we were risking a 50/50 chance at whether he’d be premature. When my oldest son was born at 34 weeks, I feel he was preparing me for how to care for Leila, who was born at 30 weeks. And her the same for preparing me for Malakai.
Freddie had zero intervention from state programs, Leila qualified for speech therapy and Malakai has had speech therapy, physical therapy, monthly EI visits and now he’s off to the public school program to follow him along after he turns 3 this month.
I’ve had many speech therapists suggest a lot of things but the thing they seemed to push was just to do what you can to be able to communicate. Constantly repeating the words they’re reaching for. Even if it doesn’t sound correct, they’re still trying to communicate so that is a positive thing. I’m going to show you this toddler speech therapy activity I came up with.
Supplies for your Toddler Speech Therapy Activity Board
Begin by printing out my watercolor food printables on to some 65lb. cardstock. I gave you the options of the entire printable or the .svg files that you can use on your Cricut or Silhouette machine.
See my suggestions for cutting laminated paper with your Cricut below.
Instead of cutting them out individually, I upload the free food .svg file to Cricut Design Space. I printed them and cut them directly from the paper, then I run them through my Xyron laminate cartridge.
Cut each one out and then apply the stiffer side of the velcro to the back of the laminated cardstock. Place the softer side of the velcro to the cabinet or board. Then you can add 4 additional soft pieces of velcro to the cabinet so that they can pull what they want and place it there.
I cut a piece of vinyl to adhere above asking him “What Do I Want To Eat Today?”.
This toddler speech therapy activity is helpful to children with speech delay because it shows them common food choices and allows them to learn how to voice it on their own.
My experience with speech therapy for my toddler
The speech therapist always tells me why it’s important that they hear words multiple times. They hear it and then realize that’s what it’s called and will eventually relay that same word to you when they’re needing something.
He has a tendency just to make whimpers to us when he wants something, I’ve learned with this toddler speech therapy activity that helps with food and with drinks. Malakai no longer just whimpers, he’s actually saying what he wants, when he wants it.
You start with simple sounds that they can learn and add more to in the future. Sounds like “ba”, “da”, “pa”, “guh”, and “huh”. Reach out to your local school district to see if they offer programs like this to you and also discuss with your pediatrician. You and your doctor can make an informed decision on what kind of therapy, if any, is necessary.
Malakai also had an issue when he needed tubes in his ears. If they seem to just make a wah noise or not really enunciating sounds, that could be a sign of your child’s ears not draining correctly. I arranged with my ENT to have ear tubes put in Malakai’s ears and I’d say within a month or two, he was got out some new sounds and words.
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #TrustinGentle #ChooseGentle #CollectiveBias
Create the perfect care package for NICU parents and their little tiny miracle. Learn all what you need to know about skin care for premature babies and important advice for NICU parents.
Because I’ve had two preemies before Malakai I kind of knew what to expect when it came to his care. However, because his skin was so much thinner and more delicate than the others, we had to really consider what exactly was going on his skin and what the ingredients were. JOHNSON’S® Baby Shampoo was really the best thing we were able to find that didn’t have any contraindications.I chose JOHNSON’S® because of the formulation of their products. They are 100% gentle, and free of parabens, and phthalates. They’re also dye free, sulfate free, worry free. They have a new formulation for all of their products and have released a new JOHNSON’S® COTTONTOUCH™ Newborn Wash & Shampoo that is perfect for Malakai now and I’m sure perfect when he was just a preemie because,“The Brand You Trust, Now More Gentle Than Ever” and it is the #1 choice of hospitals.
What is a swaddle bath?
Our NICU used it on all the babies and we were able to do swaddle baths with Malakai which were great because he is so small. A swaddle bath is when you fill your tub of warm water, then you put some fleece fabric or blanket, then the baby and then you wrap the baby up in the swaddle so that they retain their heat. We continued to do these for Malakai until he was 6-7 months and when he stayed warm, he enjoyed his bath times more. This is my daughter Leila when we would do swaddle baths for her in 2010.
Is skin-to-skin for preemies worth it?
To this question, it’s always yes. It’s important to do it when the baby is born but when you have a premature baby, sometimes you can only do it a bit at a time. When we had Leila in 2010, the most they’d let us do is an hour at a time until she was stronger.
For Malakai, it was a different story. I didn’t get to hold him for 10 days. We’d watch his monitor and his ventilator settings to make sure he wasn’t getting too stimulated. We were able to hold him as long as he’d tolerate it. Some days it’d be the full 3 hours before his next cares, some days it was 20 minutes. That’s why I feel a swaddle bath is always best for premature or even term newborns so that they get the sensation of warmth and comfort that we provide to them during skin-to-skin.
How do I take care of myself while my child is in the NICU?
First, your child is in the best place possible. Sometimes that is hard to realize because we are their parents and we know what to do. However, these nurses are dedicated to their work and also can be traumatized from having to deal with other premature infants.
I suffer from PTSD even three years later and a lot of therapy. There are times when I often have to close my eyes and take deep breaths and continue to remind myself that part of his life is over. The hospital still gives me anxiety with all the monitors and bells, I get very agitated and again have to do breathing exercises. I’m not sure when it will go away but I know a way I can help myself is to be sure to take care of myself and do other things besides sit in the hospital all day.
Movies, pampering, sleep, shopping, and other extra-curricular activities were so important to me as a mother because if I was taken care of, my child was properly taken care of. I wasn’t as overwhelmed by his cares and all the extras I needed to know because my mind was cleared and I was more attentive.
What should I include in a care package for NICU parents?
Be sure to include items for the parents and items that they’ll need for when the baby comes home. Remembering the parents and the baby are what is most important but also practicality has to come into play as well. Some of my best ideas are:
Head to your local Walgreens and grab those for your friends or family whose child is in the NICU. I love going to Walgreens because I know it’s always open. There were many times where we would have to run grab something for Malakai and it was never a question of where we’d go. I know that their pharmacy is reliable in providing me the medications that he needed for so long after his birth. I remember us having to go to the Emergency Room in the middle of the night and the doctor sent us home a prescription. I knew that they were the only ones able to fill it for us.
We’ve come a long way in our progress for all three of my premature children but especially Malakai. I wouldn’t have been able to give him the love and attention he needed if it weren’t for the generosity of others.
So tell me, what do you think would be a great addition to a care package for NICU parents? Head to your local Walgreens and create your own care package for NICU parents. #TrustInGentle
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #NewDadMustHaves #CollectiveBias
Every new Father is important and we as mothers know what we need. But what do dads of preemies need? This post will highlight all the important items you need for your home for your premature baby.
Our son Malakai was born at 24.5 weeks gestation and it was a scary time for all of us, especially his dad. I’ve had 3/4 premature babies and I’ve never seen my husband so attentive to our babies in the NICU except Malakai. Of course he was concerned with all of them but none of them had the complications Malakai had. I’ve wanted to make a round-up of all the items that a dads of preemies need to put his mind at ease.
VTech VM981 Expandable HD Video Baby Monitor with 1 Wi-Fi Camera, 5” Touch Screenis the perfect video monitor to see your new baby at all times. It hooks up to your smart phone and a 5″ touch screen so you’re able to go from room to room with the comfort of knowing if your baby is ok. The VTech VM981 Expandable Video Monitor can zoom in 10X to your desired view and the picture is always crystal clear. Grab it on Amazon here.
White Noise Machines are important because they help clear out the silence. Preemies have been surrounded by alarms, talking, pokes and prods all while they were in the hospital, it’s important to have something that clears it all out.
Cool-Mist Humidifier, I say cool-mist because the warm-mist humidifier can be a burn hazard for children. The air is the same temperature when it hits your child’s lungs but the cool mist seems to be more effective for preemies.
Large Water Dispensers can be found at your local hardware store or in Utah they have a company that you can rent from. Some can deliver the large bottles to your home or you can fill it up at a local grocery store too. I like the large water dispensers because they have a hot and cold function. This is great for making bottles, just do half and half, or even warming bottles. Bottle warmers are handy but can cause hot spots just like a microwave.
Smart Thermometers can hook right into your headphone jack on your phone and you can get a reading for their temperature right there. It also saves the history of the fevers so that you can give our doctor an accurate report.
Technology is not necessary for everything but the items above are, in my opinion, an absolute must. These help your kids transition from hospital to home very easily. Dads of preemies everywhere are going to want these great items for their kids.For more information on the VTech VM981, visit VTech here and on Facebook. Now tell me, what’s your favorite tech items for babies?
This post is sponsored by Carter’s; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.So Malakai is almost one. I cannot believe it. We’ve come so far from his days in the NICU and it almost seems like it was someone else’s life. I’m so glad he is healthy and strong today but we do have a ways to go. I want to share with you the best Fall baby boy fashion to grab at one of our favorite stores.
When Malakai was in the NICU, the best preemie clothes we were able to find were at Carters. Their original bodysuit is something that I’ve used with all my kids and have found it to last longer and it was more durable than the ones you grab off the shelf at the supermarket. For the preemie clothes it gave my son the sense that he wasn’t a hospital patient. He was dressed so cute like a baby should be and the clothes actually fit his tiny body. Most premature clothes are wide and short. The Carters preemie clothes are close to the skin, give them actual designs on the clothes and were soft enough for them to be comfortable.
When Carters asked me to grab some items from their new Fall line, I was excited because of how much of their items we already own. However, being a baby photographer is not my thing and I think Malakai fell over 5-6 times. We went to our local pond and changed him a bunch of times into the cutest baby boy fashion you’ve ever seen.When choosing a wardrobe for a baby, think comfort. I think some new moms don’t realize how often they’ll be changing a baby and how accessible a baby’s bottom needs to be for diaper changes. I love to get packs of the original bodysuit and always have a layer under my babies regular clothing. I also love the comfy pants that Carters has to offer. I also grab their Sleep & Play jammie’s but I try to stay away from the fleece. Because Malakai was a micro-preemie, he over heats a lot. He cotton is plenty warm for him and it does the trick. It’s also an experience thing when trying to figure out what works for your baby. Go ahead and try new things and see if it works for your family. Carters clothes are so comfortable for babies and it makes a big difference in how they feel staying in certain items all day. Softness and durability are key when looking for baby fashion. There are so many fads going around and while they’re all adorable, you have to ask yourself if it’s really worth it for them to wear for a short amount of time for the money you’re spending. From my experience it’s all about comfort and sustainability which Carters clothing fits into those categories perfectly. When I am looking at baby boy or baby girl clothes, I want something that will last and that will also not break my budget. There are very few things that I find are actually worth spending the big bucks on like soft sole shoes and a good baby carrier.Carters always has great sales and you never have to pay full price for anything, ever. If you’re on their email list, they send you coupons all the time. They also have a reward program and the best thing is is that it’s all traceable in their system so you don’t have to go digging for the previous receipt. We love Carters clothing for our baby boy but I was especially appreciative that they had the best preemie clothes on the market. Use the coupon below for more savings!To find your nearest Carters, click here and to get it all shipped to your home, click here. I’ve loved working with Carters and I know Malakai is as snug as a bug in their new Fall line.
Carters is also having a Pinterest contest called ‘Pin Baby Pin’ and you have the chance to win a $50 gift card by just uploading your favorite Carters baby’s first look to Pinterest and submit your link here. Contest ends 9/26/16 and 75 lucky winners will be selected. Good Luck!
I want to thank Hatch Baby for providing Malakai one of their Smart Changing Pads. All opinions are my own and the little guys himself. I also don’t recommend items I don’t love myself. When Malakai was born, he weighed 1.65lbs. – that is less than a bag of sugar. I had a feeling that he was going to be early because my symptoms were similar to my third pregnancy, but I didn’t know he’d actually be delivered at 24.5 weeks. These babies are miracles in itself but it also takes a lot to get them on their way.
He spent just over 4 months in the NICU and they were adamant about getting him to grow. The more he can grow, the faster he’ll be better. He had an issue when it came to taking his daily intake for feeds by mouth. He was on 27 calories per ounce and standard formula consists of 20 calories. He’d gain weight so quickly that they’d up his quantity – yet he was barely taking 2 ounces by mouth each feeding. His normal routine was around 1.5 ounces and then they’d have to use his nasal tube (ng tube) to pump the rest of the milk into his belly. This was increasingly frustrating to me because how can they expect him to take more when he can barely eat what he’d already been taking.
Finally, towards the end, they moved him to 24 calories and I felt comfortable enough to be able to deal with his NG tube at home. At this time he was taking about 2 ounces and he had done that for 4 days straight so I thought it was safe to remove the NG tube and do oral feeding from now on. I was not prepared to go where we were headed. From February until April, his intake never increased. He was still eating 8 times a day and are anywhere from .5 ounces to 2 full ounces. Never any more and it was increasingly becoming frustrating. I’d take him on a 30 min drive to our pediatrician for weight checks and he was never losing but he was also not gaining what the doctor wanted him to. When I had heard about Hatch Baby and their awesome app, I knew it was something that Malakai really needed. With him, it is never about cost. He has exceeded where we ever thought he’d be and I needed to continue with that demand of care. I’m glad to say that with Malakai’s consistency growing more steady, we’ve been able to get him eating around 3-4 ounces and we’ve been able to track everything using the Hatch Baby Changing Pad and their app. Also a plus, you don’t need the pad to utilize their app. There are great tracking abilities for their app like diaper changing, feeding length, pumping times, sleeping amounts, length charts, etc. The best part is that it’s free and it really is one of the better baby apps out there.
For the Smart Changing Pad, it is something that I cannot, now, live without. I’m really able to pinpoint how well he is growing right down to the very ounce and I can take my phone with me and show they Doctor what readings I have been getting. I don’t have to go in as often for weight checks because that also puts his health at risk. The more I can keep him indoors, the better.
What I do to get an acurate reading is I undress him and put on a fresh diaper, I zero out the scale and then weigh him to get consistent readings for him. There have been many new gadgets out there that have been released in the last 5 years, a lot of which I wish I had had for Leila but now I am so grateful I have them for Malakai. This Hatch Baby Changing Pad has been a real game changer in how we care for our micro-preemie. It’s definitely on my Top 8 things that every NICU parent should have. There are so many variations between NICU babies these days, not all are severely premature but you need to give them the same standard of care that they received in the hospital and so this is why I love this changing pad.
To purchase your own, head on over to www.HatchBaby.com and see what they’re all about for yourself. I guarantee that you’ll be just as satisfied as I am. It’s great for any baby whether they were born as small as Malakai or as big as a giant. Let’s just hope for your case that they weren’t as big as a giant!
Oh my gosh, we love this thing. It’s perfect to snuggle Malakai in and it gives him the comfort he needs instead of in a bare crib. Grab one here. The DockATot is a luxury item for most but it honestly has been the best for co-sleeping. The DockATot is perfect for preemie babies because they are given the snugglers in the NICU and the DockATot has a similar concept in having a pillow form on the sides.
To see what other products I recommend when you have a preemie coming home from the hospital, visit here.
Are you bringing home a preemie baby from the NICU anytime soon? Here are some of the essential items I’ve needed to care for a premature baby that is finally coming home. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support.
I have also found that being prepared is most helpful for when you finally get to bring them home from the NICU. I’ve compiled a list of things that are so helpful to make that transition from hospital to home so much easier.
The design has changed recently and it’s much more user-friendly. You don’t need to twist any bags any more or even touch the thing! We share a room with our micro-preemie so having some sort of bin was essential, this just happens to be a luxury bin and it keeps me by the baby rather than running diapers to the trash outside. I grabbed mine from Target because what can’t we find at Target? It also helps because he is on oxygen and I can’t be running everywhere hooking him up to a new tank just to run a diaper out.
So our son has had the most complications as far as lung issues and so having a monitor that we could rely on was very important to me. They can be a bit pricey but they include 3 sizes of socks so the monitor grows with them. It has been a game changer in how we react to my son’s needs.
I’ve been able to look at his oxygen rate and determine if a breathing treatment has been successful or if a trip to the ER is necessary. *I’m not a medical professional. For me, it’s always been better to overreact than having to worry.
or any soft-soled shoe that will make walking and crawling a breeze. They stay on their little feet while they are on the go and having some natural movement in the feet while learning to walk is something that will make them learn that much faster.
Your child may have been prescribed a certain bottle or nipple requirement in the NICU but coming home and having them grow, they need to adapt. I have found that with the Playtex Nursers, they make a tired mom grateful for Drop-In Liners. I still wash the bottles obviously, but if I find that infamous one that’s been under the bed for months, I can just throw away the liner and I’ve got a whole new bottle.
For us, Malakai ate much better with the Dr. Brown bottles in the beginning. They have a preemie flow nipple and it allowed him to eat at a slower pace so he didn’t use up all his energy. Once he was older and able to figure things out, I preferred the Playtex because of the easy cleanup.
In the NICU they have snugglers for the babies and it can be intimidating for them to come home to a wide open crib. These give the children the same type of comfort while in their own new bed and you can even travel with it.
My son had ROP (Retinopathy of Prematurity) surgery on Christmas day. That was a rough day but thankfully I can still help strengthen his eyesight by giving him stimulating things to look at. He has restricted peripheral vision that he can never get back but this at least helps him to focus more and strengthen his retinas.
This is where life gets fancy. A new company has these changing pads that can record your weight, tell you how much they ate, weigh the diapers, etc. It’s all kept track in their app and to use the app you don’t even need to have the changing pad, it’s just an added bonus of not having to constantly go into the doc, especially during RSV season, and do weight checks. Those can now happen over the phone.
8. Love and Attention –
Most of all, this is what these babies need. They’ve been in the hospital and all they want is their family. The nurses, no doubt, try to make up for this but it’s really about being present and learning about your child’s needs. No one knows them better than you and it’s important to be there every time you can. So have you had a preemie? Let me know what your go-to product was and check out the features of the new Diaper Genie here.
OK, I have to come right out and say that I could not do this for longer than a month. As of now, my son is still in the NICU, and I lasted 3 weeks with him. I knew almost immediately that pumping, labeling, transporting, pretty much everything was going to be overwhelming. With my 30 weeker, I was able to do it for 6 weeks but she had a hard time latching on and so I could not breastfeed when she came home. I know I could have gone further had it not been mentally challenging.
I, however, learned some tips and implemented them for my short experience. I want to share some of those tips with you. I also want to advocate that breastfeeding is completely your choice and it is a taxing experience. I have zero patience so pumping is not easy but it is your choice to do what you feel is best for your baby.
Pump like your life depends on it – With babies that are taken straight to the NICU don’t have the opportunity to latch right on and help trigger your milk supply. The nurses will bring you an industrial pump and a kit to get the process started. Ideally you want to pump every 3 hours for 20-30 minutes in the beginning. Don’t be discouraged, it won’t be much. It can take some moms a full week for their supply to start looking ample enough. With my micro-preemie, it took me 5 days to get maybe 15ml of milk. During the night you can do every 4 hours but be sure that you’re at least getting in 8 sessions of pumping.
Eat, eat and eat some more – Milk won’t produce if you have nothing to produce it with. The fattier foods you eat, the fattier your babies milk will be and more calories. Don’t mistake that because you’re breastfeeding you can eat all you want. There are still consequences by overeating and not balancing your calorie intake. Take it from the fat chick!
Drink like you live in a desert – Water is essential to keeping your milk flowing. You’re outputting fluid so your intake needs to be more. I’ve found that adding a simple lemon or some essential oils to water gives it variety.
Get a pumping bra – Kourtney Kardashian was living it up showing her goodies on TV. I thought these hilarious at first but they are so awesome. If you have an industrial pump, you can’t walk around with them but it does help keep you hands free.
Use an industrial pump – This is vital. You can’t just use a standard pump that you grab at Target. You need to use one that is hospital grade. Some insurances will cover these to have a home health company rent them to you. If that is not an option, your local WIC clinic has some that they can also rent. Your body needs to have the strength to trick your body into thinking its a baby.
Fenugreek – This is a great natural supplement to help in the production of milk. It takes a few days for it to kick in but it works awesome.
No, you can never replace actually breastfeeding your baby directly on your body but some babies are just too fragile and do not have the coordination to do it. It usually takes them to about 34 weeks gestation to get the suck, swallow, breathe down. Every baby is different and some can catch on quickly. It really depends on what your baby has already experienced. Feeding can be very challenging for preemies. It’s important that you do what is right for you and your baby will be OK if you choose not to breastfeed. Trying to breastfeed a preemie can bring joy and it can bring pain. All babies progress differently so don’t compare yours to their neighbor. I know first hand how many challenges they face and how it can impact their progress.
A 24 week baby is so different from a 30 week baby or even my oldest that was born at 34 weeks. I’m close to spending almost 200 days in the NICU from 3 children and they’ve all presented different progress and challenges. Don’t give up. You do eventually forget all what you’ve experienced but there are triggers that can set you off. I think with my micro, I had been through the trial before and I knew first hand that, mentally, I could not handle the challenge that breastfeeding has always been to me. When you take care of mom, baby will be taken care of as well. Good luck!