Category: Utah Community

Dylbug Products for Creative and Fun Food Exploration During Mealtimes

Mealtimes are meant for shared fun, enjoyment and exploration! Is this true in your household? Or are your children plugging their noses, turning their heads, covering their mouths and hiding under the table? I’ve seen the entire spectrum of refusal-to-eat behaviors in my 15 years of experience as an occupational therapist specializing in treating children with feeding difficulties.

When I first see a child for feeding therapy, my first step and recommendation to parents is to create a stress-free, enjoyable, engaging mealtime environment where their child can explore and interact with all types of food. Each child is unique in their temperament and abilities and parents should work to build a relationship of trust with their child to create a safe and nurturing place to eat.

With my own children, after coming home to dishes piled in the sink from yesterday’s meals, backpacks and homework scattered across the kitchen, dirty lunchboxes, basketballs bouncing on the tile floor, begging for piano practicing to be finished, trying to put together dinner with my own growling tummy, my patience and creativity are pretty well depleted. Once I’ve finally gotten the food prepared and on the table to eat, it’s time to make the meal stress-free, enjoyable, engaging and fun through exploring and interacting with food and children who aren’t too impressed or excited with the green things in their pasta. Does this sound vaguely familiar? Compared to families of children who struggle to eat, I know I have nothing to complain about because this scenario would be a dream come true for their child to turn their head at only the green things!  

Recently, a friend sent me a video clip of Leslie Mingo showing her Dylbug children’s mealtime products. I especially love her plates, food cutters and placemats! These plates, bowls, cups, cutters and placemats encourage food exploration and interaction in a fun, enjoyable, engaging way without mustering up large quantities of your own creative energy as you sit down to the table. Sometimes parents and children just need a starting point for creativity to encourage food exploration. Dylbug’s products could be one of those creative starting points!

During food exploration and interaction that I use during my feeding therapy sessions, I encourage looking at the colors and shapes of food, smelling the food as it slowly gets closer to the face and touching the food with hands, arms, face and lips to help children ease into being comfortable with the sensory properties of a challenging food before eating it. Dylbug’s products can be a great addition to feeding therapy tools for feeding therapists and families encouraging their children to eat at home.  

In addition to allowing your child to help use the food cutters and placing food on the plate to decorate it, they could try to recreate it again, such as holding the food “hat” up to their own head to encourage touching closer to their face. The placemats have fun designs and places to draw on it. I would encourage drawing with food for more interaction, using dipping sauces, food pieces or crumbs to “color” in the blank spaces. Those are just some beginning ideas to start off the creativity and exploration with your children. (But, please remember that you are creating an environment of trust, so be sure to read your child’s cues and not push too far.)

Leslie is a mother of three, including one that she describes as a picky eater. She wanted to make healthy eating fun, so used her artistic background and love for creativity to do just that. Her children will eat new foods with the playful way they are displayed on her plates. She’s also heard that other children are doing the same thing with her products. “Parents are amazed at how excited their children are to eat what is on their plate. It just makes mealtime happy,” says Leslie. Dylbug has an Instagram feed of photos of ideas from Leslie and other parents who are using Dylbug’s products. Leslie said, “Parents are so proud of what healthy ideas they create. It’s a great way for everyone (including me) to get ideas and support on how to feed our children.”

Dylbug is a Utah-based company that started about a year ago. Dylbug products are currently only sold online at dylbug.com, but Leslie is hoping that in the near future she can start selling in local boutiques. You definitely need to check out all the fun and creative dress-up designs that can be customized with hair, skin color, names and the car or train designs with matching food cutters and placements. At least follow dylbug on Instagram to be inspired for food exploration to make mealtimes enjoyable and fun for everyone!

If your child continues to struggle to eat, please read my blog post, “When Does Picky Eating Become a Problem?” to determine if your child may benefit from feeding therapy or further professional intervention. I offer feeding therapy services in children’s homes in Utah in Weber-Davis-Morgan counties. Happy exploring, creating and eating!                

Tube-Feeding Support Group in Utah

UPDATE: June’s Tube-Feeding Support Group will be held Thursday, June 30, 2016 at 6:30 pm at Primary Children’s Hospital on the 3rd floor in Classroom D & E.

I’m excited to share the only tube feeding support group that I’ve ever of heard of in Utah in my 15 years as an occupational therapist treating children with feeding difficulties! I’ve worked with many families whose children cannot eat enough by mouth and have no other option than to place a feeding tube so their child can get the nutrition they need. Sometimes this lasts only a few weeks, but many children require tubes for many years to even life. Feeding tubes are a wonderful medical advancement that have saved millions of lives, but I have always been acutely aware of the emotional bombshell for every family when a feeding tube is considered, placed and then sent home to become their own child’s tube feeding expert. This group will be a great resource to help families affected with this overwhelming process.

Our community has many great families with wonderful knowledge and perspective that are willing to share with others in the same situation. For healthcare professionals, it is an almost impossible task in our current healthcare environment of privacy, time and budget constraints to logistically coordinate connecting parents who can support each other. I’m thrilled we have great parent advocates in our community willing to launch this support group!

This tube feeding support group will be run by parents of children with feeding tubes. Garrett is the parent support group leader and father of a daughter with a feeding tube. He has been a tenacious advocate for his own daughter, Lucy, and has extended that tenacity to the larger community of families who have children with feeding concerns. Garrett has also been involved with Feeding Matters, an advocacy organization for children with feeding struggles. Lucy has struggled with eating by mouth since she started eating solid foods as an infant and currently has a G-tube for her nutritional intake.

If you are interested in learning about Lucy’s feeding story, here is a link to a short video: Meet Lucy.

Topics will initially range from navigating the insurance system, to finding and sharing feeding resources, to effectively collaborating with healthcare professionals (doctors, feeding therapists, dieticians, etc.) for the benefit of children with or who are in the process of the placement of a feeding tube. This support group is primarily for families to share and seek support without the pressures of healthcare professionals’ judgment that may be present in other settings.

The second meeting will be Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 6:30 pm at Primary Children’s Hospital on the 3rd floor in Classroom D & E. They are currently planning to meet once a month.

Garrett has graciously provided his phone number if you have questions. He can be reached at 801-554-0184.

If you know of other community resources in Utah for children with feeding difficulties, please share!

Best Ogden, Utah Park for Children with SPD

As a pediatric occupational therapist treating children with Sensory Processing Disorder, also called Sensory Integration Dysfunction, for the last 15 years in Ogden, Utah, I realized how difficult it was to find parks that provided playground equipment that facilitated more intense sensory input, especially vestibular (movement) and proprioceptive (muscles and joints) input. In our age of concern for safety, it is hard to find parks with swings, spinning toys, places to climb… Parents ask me over and over where they can find playgrounds with more than just a slide. I’m on a mission to find them and post them here to help families find and use them to help their children! So, I’m starting with my favorite one in Ogden, Utah, my hometown and the city I’ve fallen in love with as an adult.

OGDEN’S HIGH ADVENTURE PARK (P.S. The Ogden City website pictures in no way come close to showing how awesome this playground is!)

This playground is located right beside the Ogden River Parkway on 18th Street and Grant Avenue. It is also just west of some yummy Ogden restaurants. Stop for some pizza at Slackwater Pizzeria or a sandwich at Kneaders Bakery. And don’t forget that Ogden’s favorite Farr Better Ice Cream is a couple blocks away on 21st Street! (The bummer about this park is there are no restrooms, so remember these locations are super close!) There is also plenty of room and many trees along the river to provide shade for a picnic during the warm months.Ogden, UT Park for Children with SPD

SWINGING!

  • traditional swings that move back and forth, most with traditional seats and a couple infant, full bucket seats with plenty of space to swing as high as you want
  •  lounging seats that swing or bounce very minimally, but may be great for those more hesitant to enjoy the movement
  • single disc swing that are suspended from one point to also allow for spinning
  • a really fun rope net disc swing that swings back and forth with room for 2-3 people to swing together, another good idea for a hesitant mover because this swing gives more stability and has room for an adult or older child to sit with her if she is nervous
  • not really a swing, but a fun double glider that 2 people can use and stand on a small platform and push yourself (or be pushed) across flattened U-shaped poles going back and forth and up higher on the ends as you push harder (My older kids really loved this!)

CLIMBING!Ogden, UT Park for Children with SPD

  • a couple set of monkey bars
  • several rope ladders
  • several children’s sized climbing walls
  • a couple tall, large rope climbing structures
  • rope bridges
  • vertical rope nets to climb across
  • vertical ropes with discs to climb on and walk from rope to rope with the disc as stepping stones
  • a cool climbing net that is a suspended bowl shape with a rope ladder to climb up and inside

SPINNING!Ogden, UT Park for Children with SPD

  • several different toys to stand or sit and spin around a pole that you pull to spin yourself or have someone push you (spinning around a single point or pole gives the most intense vestibular input)
  • angled spinning toys positioned so that a child can move his body weight and start spinning himself (Great physics lessons going on!)
  • another fun round, bowl-shaped rope net with a pole coming out from the center big enough for several children to spin in (This is has a larger radius around the center, so the spinning isn’t quite as intense.)
  • an large, angled, open, round disc supported by four poles underneath where children push to get it spinning, then jump on (This is a great toy for social interaction and problem solving with a group of children. The child development nerd in me comes out and has watched and studied social, sensory, and motor development of the children playing on this exact type of toy for hours!)Ogden, UT Park for Children with SPD

No, I won’t forget to mention there are slides also, including one tall, steep one and another small, short one. 🙂

OTHER SENSORY

The river, rocks and riverbank right next to the playground would be a good tactile experience for your child to take her shoes off, wade in the water, throw rocks, dig in the dirt… If you really wanted to make it an adventure, you can ride bikes or go for a walk to and from the park along the Ogden River Parkway.

LOVE this park! My kids and I will be going back again and again for more exuberant play and adventure! This park will always be my first recommendation for great playgrounds for children with sensory processing difficulties in Ogden, Utah. What adventures have you had at Ogden’s High Adventure Park?

If you are concerned with your child’s sensory processing, I provide personalized OT services in your own home in Weber, Morgan, Davis counties in Utah.