Occupational Therapists deal with a wide range of conditions from the very mild to the more severe.
Your baby may have some delay in achieving their developmental milestones. Your health visitor, GP or Paediatrician may have picked this up, or you may be concerned that they are behind other babies of the same age. Generally, babies should learn to sit between 6 – 9 months, crawl between 7 – 12 months and walk between 12 and 18 months. Occupational Therapists can help to teach babies their early motor skills through play, positioning, strengthening activities and facilitation of movement.
Your baby may have difficulty making sense of their sensory world, therefore finding it difficult to settle themselves to sleep, feed independently or tolerate touch this can be due to a Sensory Processing difficulties which an Occupational Therapist is able to help with. Following a comprehensive assessment a therapist is able to advise on sensory input to enhance development, encourage sleep and develop play.
Your baby may have been diagnosed with a specific condition that affects development, such as Down syndrome. Occupational Therapy can help to build strength and teach movement through repetition and play. Occupational therapists can also play a key role in helping your child develop independent self care skills, this can range from developing finger feeding to appropriate play.
When holding your baby, they seem excessively floppy. This may mean that they have low muscle tone. Occupational Therapy can help to improve the strength, control and co-ordination of muscles to enable motor skills to develop.
Your child may have been diagnosed with a specific condition that affects the brain or spinal cord such as Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida or Hydrocephalus. Although these conditions are life long, Occupational Therapy can help to maximise the child's development while providing appropriate support to the family.
It can be very daunting becoming a parent for the first time, together Occupational Therapy can help you understand your baby’s unique behavioural cues and self-regulation strategies. We also offer individual and group baby massage sessions. This is a wonderful opportunity to spend time with your baby, while enhancing attunement, attachment and sensory development.
Preterm and the Medically fragile infant.
Every year in the United Kingdom around 60,000 babies are born prematurely (Born too soon, The Global Action Report on Preterm Birth, WHO 2012)
For babies born early there is a huge contrast between the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) environment and the uterine environment, these differences can have an enormous impact on an infants overall development and the emotional impact on the family can also have long lasting consequences. Being born early can impact on your baby’s development. The earlier your child was born the greater the neurodevelopmental risks. However there is a huge variation in skill development but it is important to seek advice if you have any concerns.
Occupational Therapy can provide support and advice for you and your family at home to support parenting occupations while promoting optimal infant development.
Occupations and Skills
Once your baby returns home from the NICU their primary occupations are to:
The following skills underpin each task are:
- Sensory Processing skills
- Neuromotor skills
- Self regulation
- State organisation
Sometimes preterm babies may have a delay or difficulty in one of the above areas and benefit from Occupational Therapy intervention.
Using a Brazelton approach, occupational therapy can help you understand the language of your baby, by watching your baby’s unique behavioural cues, signs of sensitivities and coping strategies. Together we can look at ways to promote sleep, self-regulation, play and feeding.