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Friday, March 31, 2017

Road Trip with Kids: “Oh, No!” or “I’ve got this!” by Trisha Roberts

This is a previous post, originally written on 3/13/16, but as families are planning vacations for the summer and Spring Break, I thought this would be a good time to revisit how to make travel time more appealing.

Spring Break and Summer Vacation are just around the corner—do I hear a “Hallelujah”?  As exciting as vacations in spring and summer can be, there is always the lurking concern in the back of our minds, “How are we going to get through the long drive with the kids?”

What is the goal of a vacation?  For most people it is to enjoy new places and relax. Make the road trip more than a constant battle over which movie to watch. My husband and I traveled extensively when our children were little, so I know how daunting entertaining little ones in the car can be.  From my experience let me share a few tips to making it to your destination and home again without pulling out all of your hair--take the stress out of your travels and make it fun and educational!

Happy Child Traveling in Car
Travel Can Be Fun for All!
            Preparation is Key

Making a running list of Things to be Done or Packed several weeks before a trip can decrease stress.  Put it on the refrigerator or make a note on your Smart Phone.  Add to the list every thought that pops into your head at odd hours of the night or day, so you can address it at a later time.

Be Realistic in Your Travel Plans
Planning to travel 12 hours straight every day in a car for 3 days to go across country with an 18 month old, 3-year old and 5-year old is not realistic unless you plan on checking yourself into a mental hospital on your return!
Be prepared to stop every 2 hours to stretch and for Potty Breaks.  Vacation is not about, “Conquering the Road,” as much as my husband would disagree!

Take Appropriate Travel Toys
Large toys, toys with 2000+ parts and pieces, toys that are messy or noisy should be left at home! Appropriate travel toys will keep children entertained without driving their parents nuts!
Each child should have a toy bag or small backpack with their own toys.  Spend time with each child in advance, thoughtfully planning what should go with them on the trip.  If they need their special blanket or stuffed animal to ensure a good night’s sleep, make sure you include this!
If we had a trip of over 2 hours, I would buy in advance several new, small, low-cost toys along with a juice box, package of small crackers or cookies, gum etc. for each child. Remember to choose snacks that don't melt! I then wrapped each ‘gift’ and put it in the children’s backpacks the night before the trip.  Every hour the children could open one of their packages (who doesn't look forward to opening a gift?!), giving them something new to play with or enjoy for the next span of time. I called them our Travel Surprise Packages and I can’t tell you how much pleasure my kids received from this simple act. (See our commercial website: for pre-wrapped gift boxes for girls or boys and other toy ideas for travel).
Strap or hook baby toys to the car seat whenever possible.  Older children might like a lap tray with a raised rim that allows them to keep their toys and snacks in a perfect position for playing and eating while preventing the items from escaping and rolling under the seats of the car! (Check out our fabulous Travel Tray Here)

Stop at Grassy Rest Areas and Play
Play ball at Rest Area grass
Taking a Break Actually Makes the Trip go Faster!

Giving children (and adults!) a chance to stretch and move every couple hours is healthy for bodies and minds alike. The time spent playing will make the remaining time in the car go much easier!
Make a game of running from one tree to the picnic table.  Time each child and try to better their time, best out of 3.
Play a quick game of kick ball, Frisbee, or ball toss.
Play a favorite dance tune on your Smart Phone and let everyone do a Wiggle Dance for 2 minutes.

Tell a Story
Start a story and let each person in the car add to the story.  You could start with a story your children know well and let it take a new "twist".  You can add places and people to the story from your current trip.  Take several hand puppets and let each person use the puppet to tell a story!

Our children have fond memories of our travel times together.  Remember that travel is part of the vacation and should be enjoyed!  We welcome your comments and travel suggestions for young children.  HAPPY TRAVELS!

Author:  Trisha Roberts

Friday, March 24, 2017

Is Crossing Midline Important for Children? by Trisha Roberts

            Crossing Midline Skills are important

Crossing Midline refers to the ability to move from one side of the body to the other and it is a very important skill to develop! Midline Crossing occurs in the Transverse plane of the body and incorporates bilateral coordination and rotation.  It is needed for almost all our daily movements like getting dressed, throwing a ball, closing a door, crossing a street.

Children's play should involve crossing midline

The brain is divided into 2 hemispheres that control the left and right sides of our body and carry out different functions. Each hemisphere communicates with the other across the corpus callosum, which is a mass of tissue that connects the 2 parts of the brain, allowing smooth, coordinated movements.

Corpus Callosum helps coordinate body movement
Corpus Callosum 

Bilateral coordination is the ability to move both sides of the body together and starts developing in infancy and continues to progress through childhood. The two sides of the body learn to work together (banging toys, pushing, pulling), in an alternating pattern (crawling and walking) and then doing different things with each side of the body (holding a book with one hand and turning pages with the other or holding a paper while coloring or cutting).  Children learn to coordinate between a stronger (dominant) hand and an assisting (non-dominant) hand. When both sides of the brain are sharing information and communicating well, a child can move in a smooth, coordinated way.

Dominant hand

Both hands work together to cut paper and perform other skills

If a person is unable to cross the midline, it might be an indication that there is poor communication between the right and left hemispheres. If a child doesn’t cross midline, they may be delayed in developing a dominant hand.  They may have difficulty rolling from back to tummy, swinging a bat, throwing overhand, kicking a ball, and many more activities.
If a child lacks good core control of the “stabilizing muscles” of the trunk and has difficulty rotating their trunk, they will have difficulty crossing the midline of their body as well. When they can’t rotate their trunk, they can’t cross their midline.  

You might suspect issues with midline crossing if you see your child hold themselves stiffly and turn with their entire body rather than rotate through their center axis to reach something to one side. You may see them pick up an object and pass it to the other hand in order to reach the other side of their body.  You may see a child turn their paper when writing so they do not have to cross midline.

What can be done for a child who does not appear to have good bilateral skills and is not crossing midline well?

An evaluation by a Physical or Occupational Therapist is a good idea if you note problems or are concerned.  Your therapist will give you lots of advice, exercises and ideas to try. You might also enjoy some of the following activities.

Activities to Encourage Midline Crossing:

  • Play games requiring a child to pick up a card, lego, or puzzle piece from one side of their body and place it on the other side. You may need to gently hold down a hand so that the other hand can reach across your child’s body.  (See ProEducationalToys for Great Block Sets!)

Set up play situation to cross midline

  • Have your child hold a large book centered in their lap.  Encourage them to reach across their body with one hand and turn the page.  Alternate hands with each page turn.

Cross midline by turning pages of book
Midline crossing can occur turning pages of a book

  • When children are writing or coloring, encourage the non-dominant or assisting hand to rest on the table and holding the paper. Keep the paper in the middle, centered above a line drawn from the belly button to the chin.

  • Work on a vertical surface like a chalkboard, easel, or white board.  (SEE OUR ARTICLE ON THE BENEFITS OF PLAYINGON A VERTICAL SURFACE!!!)  Make sure that your child is positioned in the middle of the work surface and that they are, indeed, reaching across midline. Place their non-dominant or assisting hand on the surface, as well. Have them draw a large “X” from the top and bottom of each corner of their work space. Make a colorful rainbow from one side to the other.
  • Play catch and throw games with balls and bean bags.  (SEE OUR 3-PART ARTICLE ON HOW BALL SKILLS DEVELOP IN CHILDREN, and choose an activity appropriate for your child).  Place a large cardboard box as a target in front and to one side of the child.  Encourage them to throw using the hand opposite the box so that they will need to cross midline.  Then switch the box to the opposite side and use the other hand.  Make sure that they are standing in one spot and rotating across their body.

  • Play “Flashlight Tag” in a darkened room.  You will need a flashlight for each person.  Sit together with your child, backs against a wall (to help keep them from turning with their whole body!).  Move your flashlight and have your child “chase” the light with theirs.  Practice diagonals and other patterns that encourage crossing midline.
Cross Midline using flashlights

cross midline using flashlight

  • Several children or adults can play the “Caterpillar Game”. Each player bends forward to take hold of the ankles of the child in front of them. As the leader gives the command, “Left, right”, each child moves that leg forward, and consequently carrying the arm of their playmate behind them, enabling the caterpillar to crawl forward.  If children do not yet know left and right, you could have the leader stand in front of the caterpillar and alternate holding up a piece of red paper and blue paper and call, “Red side, Blue side”. Children can sit, squat, or get on all fours to play a variant form of the same game.

Game for improving cross midlineCaterpillar Game to help improve bilateral coordination

Games for crossing midline

  Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

Copyright © 2017 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.

Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Interview with FuelBaby, The Ultimate Baby Bottle By Trisha Roberts

I  recently discovered Fuel Baby, a uniquely designed baby bottle for busy moms.  Their product is cutting edge and may interest some of you. Here is an interview of the inventor, Angelo Giuliano.

ProEducationToys:  Tell us about yourself.  

Fuel Baby:   I am a Swiss-Italian passionate about innovation, yoga, wellness, nutrition, nature.

ProEducationToys:  What was the inspiration behind starting FuelBaby?

Fuel Baby:   It started with talking to mothers and by understanding their daily challenges. At Fuelbaby, we strive to provide parents and children with safe, easy-to-use products that will make the typical day-to-day a little less chaotic. With our first product, the Fuelbaby bottle, we hope to save you time, bring comfort to your baby, and keep you ready for anything.

ProEducationToys:  What makes you laugh?

Fuel Baby:   Silly situations

ProEducationToys:  What makes you cry?

Fuel Baby:   Happiness makes me cry.
ProEducationToys:  What is your passion?

Fuel Baby:   Yoga, meditation, innovation, wellness

ProEducationToys:  What would you like etched on your tombstone?

Fuel Baby:   Carpe Diem--live the present moment always

ProEducationToys:  Which products do you love to promote?

Fuel Baby:   Fuelbaby, of course!  Fuelbaby is a unique baby bottle that allows you to pre-fill and release powdered formula with just the push of a button. It not only saves you time, but it also provides your child with fresh, ready-to-drink formula whenever he or she is ready.

ProEducationToysWhat makes your bottle different from other bottles?

Fuel Baby:   The Fuelbaby bottle is leak-proof, BPA-free, and utilizes the anti-colic air system. In addition, our patent-pending powder compartment features a soft silicon ring that releases the formula into the bottle for superior mixing results.

ProEducationToys:  What inspires you on a daily basis?

Fuel Baby:   The miracle of being alive and to create the future while living to my full potential

ProEducationToys:  How does your product help children and families?

Fuel Baby:   It brings convenience to mothers in their daily, busy life.

ProEducationToys:  What is the one accomplishment of which you are most proud?

Fuel Baby:   Although it is a team effort, the launch of FuelBaby. The whole process of seeing the idea translated into a physical reality has been a dream come true.

ProEducationToys: What unique talents do you think you have?

Fuel Baby:   Intuition and the ability to open channels of creativity

ProEducationToys:  What matters to you?

Fuel Baby:   To have a purpose that goes beyond my existence, to love and to be loved

ProEducationToys:  What is it about your business that makes you the most excited?

Fuel Baby:   Adding to the happiness of mothers around the world

ProEducationToys:  What is the best decision you have ever made?

Fuel Baby:   To get out of my comfort zone, so that miracles can happen! 

  Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

Copyright © 2017 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.

Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Bring Fun to the Table by Guest Blog My Bright Family

I enjoy featuring great family products, so this week I have asked My Bright Family to share how they are helping families and educating children in a unique way.

We are My Bright Family, a small, independent certified company committed to helping parents in their children's growth journey by creating simple, easy and affordable solutions that meet their everyday needs.

We put children at the center of our work by developing products that are safe and fully tested in real environments, collaborating with educational institutions and real families to enhance their protection and development.

That’s why we have developed our unique disposable placemat, to make your little one’s mealtimes both enjoyable and educational and at the same time, give you peace of mind about germs and messes.

Our placemat has been designed to support your child's cognitive development and keep your loved one focused while eating.

The basic color schemes and simplistic patterns are designed for optimal color and shapes recognition in toddlers and babies.

The mats are made from high grade material, 100% BPA free plastic and CPSIA compliant material.

Carry a few in your bag and when mealtime comes, simply peel off the adhesive sides, stick it on the eating surface and dispose when done. It couldn’t get any easier! 

Our new placemats offer an easy and affordable solution to save you from the trouble of messes and spillages while also providing an hygienic solution when eating out.

They are easy to carry wherever you go and perfect for eating outdoors, especially in restaurants or parks, where eating surfaces are known to be extremely dirty and potentially dangerous for your child.

 You won't find our products in shops, as we prefer to deal directly with our customers. You can visit and buy from us on Amazon US. Feel free to visit our website, Facebook or Instagram page and get in touch if you have any questions.

We would be more than happy to help! 

  Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

Copyright © 2017 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.

Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Low Muscle Tone—What is it? What Can be Done to Improve It? By Trisha Roberts

Muscle tone refers to the amount of tension resident in a muscle at rest or a muscle’s resistance to stretch.  There is a great range of what is typical muscle tone, but those on the very low end are considered people or babies with low muscle tone or “hypotonia” and those who have more muscle tension have high muscle tone or “spasticity”.  Hypotonia is usually accompanied by low muscle strength as well, but the two are not synonymous terms. Low muscle tone is often referred to as “Floppy Baby Syndrome” in the young child or infant.  There are many genetic syndromes and conditions that are characterized by low muscle tone (Down Syndrome and Pratier-willi, to name a few), but for many children with low muscle tone there is not an identifiable genetic cause, hence “etiology unknown” or of “idiopathic origin”.

Floppy Baby with Low Muscle Tone

A baby with typical muscle tone feels solid when picked up.  As a young infant, they make attempts to hold their head steady when snuggled against your shoulder.  At 6-7 months of age they can grip you with their legs when you hold them on your hip.  Lift the arm or leg of a child with low muscle tone or hypotonia, and it feels like a water balloon.  A child with extremely low muscle tone feels like a half-filled water balloon!

Hypotonia in muscles feels like a water balloon
Muscles with poor tone feel like water balloons

Low Muscle Tone Can Lead to Many Problems

Gross motor skills are frequently delayed in children with low muscle tone; babies have a harder time rolling over, sitting alone, crawling, learning to stand and walk.  There may be poor breastfeeding skills (inability to “latch on” or fatigue after a few sucks), increased drooling, poor head control, poor suck-swallow response, choking on food, hypermobility or laxity of the joints, poor sitting posture, and poor attention span in older children with difficulty sitting at a school desk. Babies with low muscle tone frequently "W-sit", walk with a wide base of support, and pronate their feet (feet roll in).

Pronation of feet often occurs in children with hypotonia
Pronated Foot

Low muscle tone leads to increased joint mobility
Hypermobile Fingers

Children often W-sit when they have low muscle tone or hypotonia

Early Intervention in the form of Physical Therapy or Occupational Therapy is extremely important to address these deficits and delays. Exercise will not precisely change muscle tone, but exercise can improve muscle strength and a child's postural control or the ability to move through space with precision and balance. Therapists work with families, providing activities and exercises to encourage the baby to develop and advance. Your therapist may prescribe a special garment, orthotics, or use kinesiotape with your baby, depending on the type of problems your child is experiencing.

Therapy Ball Work with Baby

Activities that are fast and arrhythmical are stimulating. (Activities that are slow and rhythmical tend to be relaxing).  One of the activities I frequently use in my Pediatric Physical Therapy practice is bouncing on a therapy ball (or physio ball, Yoga Ball, exercise ball).  As joints are compressed, there is a reflexive response from the brain that tells the muscles surrounding the joint to contract.  When bouncing on a therapy ball in sitting, the vertebral bodies (joints in the spine, if you will) are compressed; as a result, the trunk musculature is stimulated to respond, thus providing increased tension in the core muscles and improving trunk stability.  Your baby’s therapist can show you how to safely use the therapy ball to stimulate improved head and trunk control in your child.

 Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

Copyright © 2017 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.

Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.