This is my first child. When I compare her to others her age, I
think she's behind. How do I know if she's developing normally or if she
Every parent wants their child to reach their full potential. When
there is a developmental concern it is best to address it as early as
possible when a child's nervous system is still undergoing the most
growth and change.
Keep in mind that all children develop differently and there is a
range of what is considered to be 'normal' development. Also, at times
it is normal to see a child slow down in one developmental area while
they expand skills in another area. For example, it is not unusual to
see a child plateau in their development of speech when they are
concentrating on improving gross motor skills such as walking.
more information on normal development, check out,
How Children Develop on this website. You can also ask a therapist
specific questions in our Ask
the Therapist section.
In addition, always talk to your
child's pediatrician regarding any developmental concerns that you have.
Keep in mind too, if you are still concerned, you can always seek out an
evaluation through your local
early intervention program to have your child's development
evaluated for free.
Where can I get help for my child?
There are many places a parent can seek help to answer questions
regarding their child. Your family pediatrician is always a great place
On this website, check out our resource list in the community
section. We have early
intervention resources listed for you by state. Also, if you'd like
to ask a therapist a specific question regarding your child, post a
question in our, Ask the
Therapist section. A licensed therapist would be happy to answer
your specific questions within 72 hours of your posting.
Where can I find information to help me be a better parent?
Although children are one of the greatest gifts we can receive, they
present us with a huge responsibility and many challenges.
For help with parenting concerns, please sign up for
EnTEISment Newsletter, our monthly newsletter, featuring the latest in
Early Intervention News related to parenting, child development and
diagnoses - plus a developmental activity for you and your child. You
may also want to review our
Parenting Tips section.
What is Early Intervention? How can this help my child?
is a group of services for children under the age of 3 provided by
occupational therapists, physical therapists, developmental teachers,
speech therapists, and consultants specializing in vision or hearing.
These services are provided to children with or without a diagnosis
that are experiencing a delay in some area of development for any
reason. These services are provided in a child's 'most natural
environment' including their home, daycare, or other community settings.
For more information on what early intervention is, see our
Therapy Options section for an in-depth
description of Early Intervention Services. For information on
early intervention services provided in your state, see our resource
We've just adopted a baby. How can I help him adjust?
First, congratulations on your new addition! Any change in family
dynamics can be an adjustment for everyone.
For information on helping to facilitate the adjustment of your child
to his new home and environment, check out our
Adoption Tips under the parenting section.
How can I play with my child to encourage development?
The early years of a child's life are a time when the fastest growth
and development occurs. Take advantage of daily routines as a time to
interact with your child.
For example, during diaper changes encourage eye contact while
singing to your child. When shopping with your child, talk about the
foods that you see, ask your child questions about them and help them to
describe them. Have your child 'help' at meal times by letting them do
things like put ingredients in a salad, have them help to stir foods.
For more tips, see our Parenting
Tips section. Also, for new activity ideas that you can do with your
child, sign up for our monthly
What kind of music is good for babies and toddlers? What should we
listen to together?
A variety of music is best. Music that is complex with a good rhythm
has been shown to increase the development of nerve connections in the
Avoid loud rock or rap music. This harsh music has been associated
with a decrease in nerve connections in the brain. Not only does music
help with general neurological development. Music encourages movement,
promoting the development of motor skills. You can also use music to
work on imitative and social skills by using songs such as 'Itsy Bitsy
Spider' or 'Wheels on the Bus' to imitate repetitive movements to songs.
I just had a baby and my two-year old isn't adjusting. What can I
A new baby in the house is a big adjustment for everyone. Feelings of
jealousy in a toddler are common when a new sibling comes home.
You may see signs of regression such as your toddler wanting to have
a bottle when they have already moved on to a sippy cup. Another common
issue is aggressive behavior toward the new baby. If your toddler is
showing regression in their behavior, praise more mature behavior and
point out the advantages that they have as an older child. If your child
is being aggressive, teach 'gentle' behavior, and give a 'time-out' when
needed. In general, it is a good idea to set aside some time just for
your toddler, one on one, so that they still feel important. Give your
child 'jobs' to do to help with the baby so that they can interact with
your new baby in a positive way. Praise them for their help. If you have
more questions about this adjustment, post a question in our
Ask the Therapist section.
What can I do when my child doesn't get along with others in her
"Not getting along with others" can mean a lot of different things.
However, we find that not getting along often means that a
child is biting or hitting other children.
One thing to keep in mind is that before the age of 3, children do
not have the cognitive or emotional maturity level to experience
empathy. In other words, they most likely don't understand that they are
hurting someone when they are doing these things.
use these negative behaviors because they have found that they result in
positive consequences. These positive consequences are usually that the
child gets the toy that they want and/or they get attention. Talk to the
teachers and find out how the situation is being handled. Are the
teachers imposing a 'time-out'? Repeatedly removing a child from a
situation when they react negatively, saying, 'no' and ignoring them
will often extinguish the behavior.
Sometimes, negative behavior
has a different root cause. Is the child unable to use words to express
their frustration? Sometimes a child will act out when they are not able
to express their frustration through language. If there is a language
delay, working with a speech therapist to improve language skills may be
helpful. Other things can cause a child to lash out too. If a child has
an inability to tolerate their environment, they may seem to lash out
randomly. In this case, working with an occupational therapist may be
Another thing to consider is if any major changes
have been going on in the child's life. Stressful events such as a move
or divorce may affect a child's behavior. Remember though, occasional
biting or hitting in young children is not unusual. However, if your
child's behavior is something that has been expressed as a concern by
teachers that feel that your child's behavior is atypical, it may be
time to talk to your pediatrician. Your pediatrician can help to
determine what type of evaluation may be appropriate or you can contact
your local early intervention program for children under the age of 3
for a free evaluation. See early
intervention resources in your state or visit our
Ask the Therapist page.
My toddler is being bullied in preschool. How should I handle the
First of all, talk to the teachers about the situation. Develop a
plan with them as to what should be done. If this doesn't help, go to a
Bullies at a young age will often stop if the child that they are
bullying will tell them in a firm voice to stop. Encourage your child to
use their words in order to do this. If you are looking for more
specific information for your situation,
ask one of our therapists.
Is it safe to get all the vaccinations that are offered? What do I
need to have?
There has been a lot of concern recently regarding vaccinations in
children and their safety. Some people want to avoid vaccinations or
alter vaccination schedules.
This is something that should be discussed with your family
pediatrician. Vaccination requirements vary by state and may affect a
child's ability to attend day care, head start, and/or school. To find
out what your state requirements are, check with your state health
department. There are allowable exemptions to vaccinations for special
circumstances such as due to religious, medical or philosophical
What pets are safe to have around children?
What type of pet is safe or right for your child may vary somewhat
based upon where your child is developmentally, and what type of
responsibility you are ready to have.
In general, avoid animals such as reptiles, rodents, amphibians,
ferrets, baby poultry, monkeys, and exotic animals (www.kidshealth.org).
Always make sure that your child is supervised when around any pet. Make
sure you teach your child how to be gentle and avoid behaviors that can
anger a pet, such as taking food from a dog for example. When deciding
on a pet, it would be wise to find out what type of treatment is needed
to make sure that they don't carry disease. For example, a dog can carry
ticks, which may have Lyme disease. However, if a dog is properly
treated with preventative medications, this should not be an issue. If
you're looking for specific information on pets, consider checking out
some pet guides or talking to your local veterinarian. Keep in mind;
pets do have great benefits such as teaching responsibility and
providing companionship. Some popular pets for kids that require
relatively little care include fish and guinea pigs.
Is second hand smoke really dangerous to children?
Yes, secondhand smoke is dangerous. According to the American Lung
Association, exposure to second hand smoke in children results in
decreased lung function.
Children exposed to second hand smoke are more likely to cough,
wheeze, have phlegm and to be breathless. Second hand smoke is
associated with increased cases of asthma, pneumonia, and bronchitis.
Being exposed to second hand smoke can cause a build- up of fluid in the
middle ear leading to middle ear infections which may in turn lead to
hearing loss. Some studies have also shown exposure to second hand smoke
to be associated with an increase in the incidence of SIDS. All of this
information is available on the American Lung Association website. Check
out www.lungusa.org for more
Can my child get sick from playing in the dirt or a sandbox?
Well...yes, a child can be exposed to germs while playing in dirt or
a sandbox such as bacteria, viruses or even worms. However, research has
shown that this exposure is good for the development of the immune
As stated by Mary Ruebush, author of 'Why Dirt is Good,' 'Not only
does this allow for 'practice' of immune responses, which will be
necessary for protection, but it also plays a critical role in teaching
the immature immune response what is best ignored.' Some microbes that
we are exposed to are actually good for you, and help your body to
function better! So, of course, continue to use good hand washing
practices such as when coming in to eat or using the bathroom, but a
little dirt may be good for your child. Of course, with all questions
regarding your child's health, especially if your child has unique
medical related concerns, such as a compromised immune system, talk to
My child loves junk food and won't eat vegetables. How can I get her
to eat more healthy foods?
This is a common concern of the parents of toddlers. Keep in mind
that it can take many presentations of a food before a child is willing
to try it. Keep presenting new foods.
Talk to your child about foods, describe them by how they look, how
they feel. Incorporate your child in activities such as shopping. Let
them explore foods. Have them help in food preparation. Children may be
much more willing to try a food if they've been involved in helping to
prepare it. Encourage children to kiss a food on their plate good-bye if
they don't want to taste it. Or, start by having them touch a piece of
the undesired food to remove it from their plate. Don't battle or force
a child to try foods. Having a negative or stressful experience with a
food may make them less likely to want to try it.
If a child is
severely limiting their foods, such as eating most foods from one or two
food groups, only eating foods of a certain texture or temperature, or
are not gaining weight as expected, there may be more going on than just
having a picky eater. It may be time to have a professional look at
their eating habits. Feeding evaluations are available through early
intervention or through private therapy clinics. Talk to your
pediatrician about your concerns if you feel an evaluation is needed.
Read more about
Good Nutritional Habits or
ask one of our therapists for more advice based on your child's
current eating habits.
I want my child to eat healthy, but at parties, play dates and
preschool, they have unhealthy treats. How can I control his diet when
he's away from home?
As children get older and spend more time away from home, it gets
harder and harder to control what they are consuming. Unless your child
has specific food allergies, it most likely won't hurt to have the
occasional "junk" food.
However, you can pack your children's lunches and snacks if you are
concerned about exposure to unhealthy food options. In a world where
allergies are more and more of a concern for children, most families and
child care centers are familiar with needing to accommodate special
diets, so don't be afraid to provide your child with their own special
lunch or snack. When packing your child a special lunch or snack, let
them be involved in making choices as to what to have in their lunch or
snack. If your child has some control in these decisions, they will be
more likely to choose to eat these packed foods rather than eating other
foods. Teach your child by example. Make sure that if you want your
child to eat healthy, that you are making healthy choices as well. If
you have other concerns, read our
Good Nutrition Habits page or ask one of our therapists in our
'Ask the Therapist' section.
My child makes eye contact with me, but something about his
interactions just seems odd. How can I tell if my child has autism?
In order to diagnose autism, a child needs to be evaluated by a
professional such as a developmental pediatrician, pediatric
neurologist, child psychologist or psychiatrist.
However, some behaviors associated with autism, besides a decreased
amount of eye contact include repetitive behaviors, obsessive or
compulsive type behaviors, unexplained strong tantrums, language delays,
difficulty or delays in social interactions, sleeping problems, delays
in motor development and picky eating. These are some but not all of the
behaviors or symptoms that may be seen in children that have a diagnosis
somewhere on the autistic spectrum.
Keep in mind that not all children with autism have the exact same
characteristics. It is a 'spectrum' disorder where children present with
different symptoms and varying degrees of severity of each symptom
present. Sometimes behavioral differences may be rather mild, and the
child may be thought of as 'eccentric,' 'quirky', or 'different'.
If you have any concerns that your child may exhibit some of the
above behaviors, or other behaviors that are concerning to you, don't
wait to see if it gets better or worse on its own. Talk to your
pediatrician about these concerns. Seek out an evaluation by a provider
that can diagnose autism, and at the same time, seek out early
intervention or other therapeutic evaluations that can provide you with
help in working with the difficulties you and your child are
experiencing. Studies have shown that the earlier a child on the
autistic spectrum receives intervention, the better their functional
outcomes are due to the fact that at an early age, a child's brain is
still developing, or flexible. So, most importantly, if you suspect a
problem with your child's development, do not delay in seeking
My baby isn't mouthing toys, and I've been happy that I don't have
to be worried about choking hazards. Someone told me that I should make
sure that he does mouth toys. Is that true, and why?
Mouthing toys is actually an important part of infant development.
Not only does mouthing toys help a child learn about their environment
through one of their senses, it also prepares them to be able to eat
foods beyond puree.
When a child is born, their gag reflex is far forward (about the
first third) of their tongues. As the child mouths objects, that gag
reflex gradually moves back to where it typically should be for adults,
on the back third of the tongue. In this way, mouthing toys aids a child
in getting used to feeling different textures on their tongues, which
will help them adjust to feeling different foods on their tongues. Not
only does mouthing affect the gag reflex. When mouthing objects, a
baby's tongue will reflexively follow an object, which helps the tongue
develop movement patterns such as moving to the side when things (like
food) are placed on the side. If your child is not mouthing toys,
starting with massaging their gums with your finger or an Infadent is a
good place to start. Encourage your child to bring toys to their mouth
to at first feel them on their lips and gradually in their mouths. You
can also have a child taste their favorite purees on a bumpy teether. If
your child has difficulty tolerating these things, talk to your
pediatrician or ask one of our
therapists a question for more information.
Who created this website? What are your qualifications?
This website was created by the owners of
Therapeutic Early Intervention Services, Inc.,Tara Deringor, and
Julie Hudak. Both Tara and Julie are licensed physical therapists.
Their employees, comprising of physical therapists, occupational
therapists, speech therapists and developmentalists contribute to the
information found on this website. For more information on this company,
which is based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, please see our website,
Why did you put so much effort into Early Intervention Support?
Nothing is more rewarding than to know that you have contributed to
the health and development of a child. At
TEIS Inc. (the founders of this
website), we focus on children.
We know that the earlier we are able to intervene, often the bigger
difference we can make in a child's life. We all work in pediatrics
because of our love of children. Early Intervention Support was started
in order to reach out to and support families beyond the Pittsburgh
area, where our company, TEIS Inc is based.