Family Services for Parents of Children with Disabilities
Family services provide information, education and support that address the concerns and stressors that parents of children with disabilities might experience. Our parent liaisons are highly trained parents of children with special needs.
They provide parents and caregivers with support from the unique perspective of someone "who has been there" in both informal one-on-one and group settings. Our social workers have years of experience assisting parents and children with disabilities. Counseling services help clients and family members develop the skills needed to cope, thrive and live confident and fulfilling lives.
Why Begin Here?
Just like a GPS helps you navigate unfamiliar streets, our family services team helps parents and families navigate this new and unfamiliar path. We offer educational resources, networking opportunities and social activities for children, families and caregivers. Our sibling services provide much needed support to both the typically developing sibling and the sibling with disabilities.
Drop in anytime to see us or to just look around and unwind. Our Mary Alice D'Arcy Center for Family Services in Villa Park is our main resource center. The Center includes a library full of resources and books for parents and children. We welcome families, whether they have comprehensive needs or just a quick question. We also welcome calls from the community looking for information, resources and referral suggestions. Some questions we hear frequently relate to school programming and IEPs, toilet training, behavior and anxiety. Whether one-time, short-term or on-going, our services address a wide-variety of needs and concerns.
How Do I Get Started?
Getting started is easy! Contact us at 630.620.4433 and ask for our Family Services Department to ask questions or schedule an appointment.
CLICK HERE for additional parent resources including IEP help, support groups and events. Also, connect with us on Twitter and Facebook to stay up-to-date on all the latest resources and events for parents.
Formula Concerns & Availability
Friday, May 20, 2022, 1:56 PM
Formula Concerns & Availability
Friday, May 20, 2022, 1:56 PM
…Read this Post
by: Easterseals DuPage & Fox Valley Nutrition Team
Given the shortage of formula in the country (a combination of supply chain issues and product recalls), we know many families are looking to us for help. We understand the ability to feed your child shouldn’t be a concern. For many, this is a scary and anxious time. It has been hard during our nutrition evaluations to recommend any specific type of formula, as the availability is hard to control. A can today may not be available the next time you need it. No one should be without the nutrition they need, and we are here for you.
To help, we have talked with all of our formula contacts to give you resources to find formula and recommendations. We did our best to get you access and an insider view on what steps you can take. Scroll to the manufacturer you need for QR codes, guides to switch formula and more.
We know that manufacturers and legislators are doing everything possible to make more options available. But it will still take 6-8 weeks to get availability at a more comfortable level. In the meantime, please only take what you need for a week or two. Leave formula, especially specialty formula for children with allergies, on the shelf for those that truly need it. And please don’t dilute formula to make it last longer. This results in a lack of nutrition and not enough calories for infants. This can have serious consequences, such as increase risk of seizure.
Finally, please be cautious with recipes that are floating around to make your own baby formula, without consulting with a medical professional first. Many homemade recipes contain ingredients that are not safe for young infants, are low in calories, and are not nutritionally complete. Feeding a baby homemade formula can cause problems with growth and nutritional deficiencies.
About Formula & Brands
Just like adults, babies need protein, fat, and carbohydrates in their diet. Infant formulas sometimes differ in which specific proteins, fats, and carbohydrates they feature. Breast milk has two protein sources: whey and casein. Some infant formulas have both of these proteins, while others only have whey. All meet the FDA’s requirements. Similarly, infant formulas can differ in the type of fat they use. All infant formulas sold in the U.S., whether they are name-brand or store-brand, must meet the FDA’s standards to ensure proper nutrition for your baby.
Generic or store brand infant formulas are very similar to national brands. They even use similar marketing terms, including:
- Advantage = Advance
- Gentle = Gentlease
- Sensitivity = Sensitive
- Tender = Gentle
Most store-brand baby formulas contain DHA and ARA, prebiotics, and nucleotides, just like brand-name infant formulas. Almost all—including store brands made for Walmart (Parent’s Choice), Target (up & up), Walgreens (Well Beginnings), and Kroger (Comforts for Baby), etc.—are made by the same manufacturer: Perrigo Nutritionals. Read more from verywellfamily.
Some children have no issues with transitioning to a new formula, while others may need a little time to adjust. For some children, new adjustments to their diet may cause gastrointestinal (GI) changes. If you need support for your baby’s allergies, constipation or other emerging GI issues, please contact a pediatric dietician for support.
Due to the shortage, now may be the time to move a toddler or older child off of formula and transition to another option. We know this change can be scary. But many families have found this has been a needed push with a beneficial outcome.
See below for a formula comparison chart that you can use to find comparable formulas if your usual brand is sold out. Again, generic brands are perfectly okay to feed your baby.
The support from communities to help those in need of formula is so heartwarming. Consider reaching out to friends and family to help find formula for your baby as they shop. Purchasing donor breast milk from your local milk bank, may be an option. While there is a high demand they are also experiencing more donations of extra milk. One such resource is the Mothers’ Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes.
Use caution with milk sharing or buying milk over the internet from places other than an official milk bank as these may contain contaminants. If someone is offering extra formula they no longer need, please be sure the formula is not expired and has been stored in a temperature controlled location (i.e. not in a garage).
Instacart is a helpful resource that shows where formula is on shelves. You don’t have to shop on Instacart, but use as a locater in your area.
Community Facebook groups like local Mom Groups, parenting groups and more can help share tips or resources for formula. Chicagoland Formula Finders is a recent and helpful resource for many.
Scroll down to find more information from Enfamil, Gerber, Kate Farms, Nutricia, Similac and WIC programs (alphabetized).
Enfamil.com has a store locater that is updated three times a day. They also share this qr code and product comparison chart below.
Nutramigen is an extensively hydrolysed formula for the dietary management of infants with mild to moderate cow’s milk allergy. It is hypoallergenic, which means it has been specially formulated to not cause allergic reactions in most infants with cow’s milk allergy. This formula has been more available at this time, but please only purchase if necessary.
At Reckitt/MJN, we see this as a very serious issue, because we understand the responsibility we have in making the single source of nutrition for so many infants, therefore can be no short cuts for this vulnerable population. Our manufacturing facilities are operating 24/7. This has allowed us to supply 30% more product to market YTD, which allows us to provide formula to an additional 200,000 babies per month since the Abbott recall occurred.
It is important to note our manufacturing is near pharmaceutical grade and quality and safety are paramount. Our goal is to get as many feedings to shelf as possible, but our highest priority are those mothers and infants in the WIC program as they are the most vulnerable in our society. Where Abbott can no longer meet their commitments, we are filling the gap as much as we can.
We’re continually looking for more ways to increase supply, while ensuring the highest levels of safety and quality. We’re also working closely with President Biden, the FDA, and the USDA to expedite approval for us to use a factory outside of the U.S., access key ingredients, and make it easier to ensure the most vulnerable babies have access to the formula they need. We know parents and caregivers are concerned about formula supply on the shelves, we are working with our retail partners to support limiting purchases to 1- week supply per household and always recommend buying formula from a reputable source.
This is the highest priority for us as a company and the entire industry. We are confident that by working together and remaining focused on this problem, we will solve it, ensuring that parents and infants have access to the nutrition that they need.
Helping Hand for Special Kids Program
This program can help with a one time gift of formula in cases of financial assistance or multiple births. With help from a medical professional or one of our dieticians, choose from one of the three applicable programs. Offer is limited to one formula gift per household, per birth. Programs and offers subject to change without notice. Only parents and/or legal guardians who meet offer qualifications are eligible. View the program application.
While we are a small player in the U.S. infant formula market, we are absolutely committed to doing everything we can to help get parents and caregivers the formula they need so their babies can thrive. We have significantly increased the amount of our infant formula available to consumers by ramping up production and accelerating general product availability to retailers and online, as well as in hospitals for those most vulnerable. We are also working through our Parent Resource Center, website, social media and industry groups to help make sure essential information is available for those parents and caregivers seeking it.
Demand for Gerber formula has increased due to a national infant formula shortage. This increased demand may result in some temporary out of stock issues at certain stores. Each retailer has the best estimate of when specific products will be on their shelves. For information about which retailers in your area carry Gerber formula, you can visit https://www.gerber.com/shop-by-product/formula.
While individual stores may be temporarily out of stock, it should return soon, or you can order from our website.
Our Parent Resource Center is available 24/7 to help parents with any feeding queries, including help in finding our formulas and suggesting recommended alternatives, as it is generally okay to switch routine infant formula brands (800-4-GERBER). If an infant is on a specialty formula for a medical condition or for treatment of allergy, switching infant formula should be discussed with your health care provider before doing so.
We understand that patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals are pressed to find alternatives. Kate Farms formulas may be a solution for patients affected by the Abbott recall. Our formulas are only for children one and up, but could be appropriate for kiddos aging out of an infant formula including those who are appropriate for a peptide challenge and were formerly on an amino acid product. Below are a a few crosswalk tools which show which Kate Farms products would be considered “equivalent”, and we have a dedicated out of stock webpage here: https://www.katefarms.com/customer-service/out-of-stock-support/.
The Nutritional Applications Pediatric Formulas is also a helpful resource to show what may be appropriate by disease state. The pediatric transition guide is also helpful for tube fed patients. Learn more about transitioning to a new formula with this guide in partnership with a Registered Dietician.
Kate Farms formulas:
- Indicated for ages 1 and up
- No common allergens. Do not contain milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, or soybeans —but are not tested to be hypoallergenic
- Unlike powdered formulas, Kate Farms formulas use aseptic processing and are commercially sterile
- Offer pediatric peptide formulas made with organic hydrolyzed pea protein (HCPCS B4161) and pediatric standard formulas made with organic intact pea protein (HCPCS B4160)— not amino acid or elemental
- Nutritionally complete, taste great, and designed for oral or tube feeding (flow smoothly through tubes down to 6.5 Fr)
- Eligible for insurance coverage: Medicare, Medicaid, private plans, and select WIC* programs
- Samples arrive within two days to healthcare offices or patient homes at the request of a healthcare professional. Visit katefarms.com/samples.
Kate Farms formulas are broadly eligible for insurance. Your home medical supplier will check your coverage and ship Kate Farms to you. Or you can purchase any one of our formulas online with free 2-day shipping at katefarms.com.
We offer nutritional solutions that positively impact the health from early life and onwards into old age.
- Nutricia Navigator contains information on the service which can investigate coverage options and locate DMEs or pharmacies in their area that may have product available.
- Neocate.com. Always provides updated information on ordering directly from Nutricia. Parents can enter in their email addresses to receive a notification when it is back in stock at Nutricia.
- Walgreens.com. They will indicate if they have availability in any store. If they see it is available, you can call the store first before going.
For families whose babies require specialty, metabolic formulas, the FDA recently informed Abbott Nutrition that the agency has no objection to releasing urgent, life-sustaining supplies of certain specialty and metabolic formulas on a case-by-case basis. Abbott has established a request line for patients and caregivers seeking access to their specialty formulas: 1-800-881-0876.
We know that our recent recall caused additional stress and anxiety in an already challenging situation of a global supply shortage. We are working hard to help moms, dads and caregivers get the high-quality nutrition they need for their babies.
Abbott is working closely with the FDA to restart operations at the Sturgis, Mich., facility. We continue to make progress on corrective actions and will be implementing additional actions as we work toward addressing items related to the recent recall. In the meantime, we are working to increase the supply of infant formula by prioritizing infant formula production at our facilities that provide product to the U.S. market.
Below is a QR code that is updated regularly to show availability of infant formulas at different large box stores. More will be available in the next few weeks.
We have a special obligation to WIC families. About one-half of babies born in Illinois participate in WIC in the first year of their lives. We will continue to do everything possible to safeguard their development and access to safe, nutritious formula.”said IDHS Secretary Grace B. Hou
The state of Illinois is taking a series of steps in response to the current, nationwide infant formula shortage. Senate unanimously passed the House’s bill to add flexibility to WIC benefits. The federal nutrition program for women, infants, and children is the largest infant formula buyer in the country — making up about half of all formula purchases. The approved legislation would waive the contract requirements for emergencies (like during a formula shortage), and allow mothers to purchase other formulas available without having to pay out of pocket.
In coordination with the USDA Food & Nutrition Service, Illinois retailers are being encouraged to set aside formula for low-income families enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children program.
The Illinois Department of Human Services has also trained caseworkers to assist families with formula questions. The IDHS Help Line at 1-800-843-6154.T he Help Line is designed for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and WIC customers primarily but is open to all residents of Illinois. Read more here.
For more information on our Feeding Clinic, nutrition and feeding services, visit: https://www.easterseals.com/dfv/our-programs/medical-rehabilitation/nutrition-therapy.html.
Dealing with Sensory Overload
Friday, May 13, 2022, 9:48 AM
Dealing with Sensory Overload
Friday, May 13, 2022, 9:48 AM
By: Megan Fickert, Therapy Aide What is Sensory Overload? Simply put, sensory overload is when one…Read this Post
By: Megan Fickert, Therapy Aide
What is Sensory Overload?
Simply put, sensory overload is when one’s senses become overwhelmed to the point that a person is negatively impacted. Sensory overload can affect anyone but is particularly common among those with developmental disabilities like ADHD or autism that cause difficulty with filtering external input that other people might find perfectly tolerable.
Sensory overload can be a physically painful experience. As a small child, if I was outside and someone a block away was mowing their lawn, I would crouch low to the ground and clasp my hands over my ears. I used to run out of the bathroom in elementary school because of the automatic toilets, and to this day, I still have to cover my ears whenever I flush!
To an observer, it will often be obvious what is happening to a person experiencing sensory overload, but other times people may simply appear distracted or disengaged from their surroundings or may lash out in frustration instead.
For many disabled people, sensory overload becomes an everyday challenge. Let’s go over some ways of dealing with it.
The ideal scenario is preventing instances of overload from happening in the first place. This means being mindful of your surroundings and planning ahead. Know how certain stimuli affect you or others. Have an escape route in mind and a way to communicate your needs. Avoid situations you know will lead to sensory overload if you can.
But of course, life doesn’t work seamlessly and there will always be unexpected scenarios that bring on overload. Here is how you can help yourself or someone else when it arises.
1. Remove Yourself
If possible, one of the quickest ways to handle overload is to remove oneself entirely. If you begin to feel overwhelmed, excuse yourself or ask someone to help you get out of the area. If you are assisting someone else, keep an eye on their reactions and give them chances to escape their environment if it seems like they have become overloaded.
Some adults and children may not have the self-awareness or communication skills to let others know they have become overloaded, so check in with them often when you are in especially stimulating or busy environments, and remember to take breaks even if sensory overload hasn’t occurred yet.
2. Block Incoming Senses
If leaving is not an option, the next best thing is to block stimuli. Wear earplugs or headphones if sound is an issue. Cover your eyes, look to the floor or even hide under a blanket to block visual input. Plug your nose to keep smells away. Have alternative clothes in case you become irritated by tags, seams or textures.
3. Ask for Help
In some cases it may be possible to ask for help. Admittedly this can be a scary task and isn’t always feasible, but some venues may be able to accommodate your needs if you speak up! Ask for the volume to be lowered or lights to be turned down, ask to be seated away from others. This is often best done as part of prevention, but sometimes it’s necessary to ask for help on the spot, too.
4. Override External Input
When it comes to sensory overload, sometimes the most overwhelming part is experiencing excess stimuli that we have no control over. To counter this, it might help to create your own stimuli to focus on instead. (Be mindful that in public scenarios, this might not be possible if it will be disruptive for others).
Stimming, or self-stimulatory behavior, is often a natural reaction to sensory overload. If external sound is bothersome, listen to music or make sounds of your own to focus on instead! Draw a picture or focus on a specific object to drown out other visual input. Flap your hands, wiggle your toes, or stomp your feet to express control over how your body feels. Use a weighted blanket to control proprioceptive input.
Basic Sensory Overload Kit
Here is a list of some good items to keep on hand for situations when sensory overload may be expected. Because different things work for different people, make sure to customize your own kit with what works for you based on the situation and circumstances.
- Ear protection (headphones, earplugs)
- Eye protection (sunglasses, hats, eye masks)
- Hand fidgets (tangles, stress balls, marble mazes, etc.)
- Chewable fidgets (handheld or wearable “chewelry”)
- Weight/pressure tools (blankets, vests, compression garments)
Sensory Overload Summary
Ultimately, how one deals with sensory overload will greatly depend on the individual and the situation, but these are the basics on how to help yourself or others when faced with it in daily life.
Remember that instances of overload are inevitable, but being proactive and utilizing tools at your disposal can minimize these unpleasant experiences for yourself or someone you care about.
To learn more about sensory processing disorder and how we can help, visit: https://www.easterseals.com/dfv/our-programs/sensory-processing-disorder.html
A Therapist’s Review on The Rabbit Listened
Wednesday, March 2, 2022, 4:29 PM
A Therapist’s Review on The Rabbit Listened
Wednesday, March 2, 2022, 4:29 PM
By: Natalie Donald, Social Worker It’s Read Across America Week! This week, led by the Nationa…Read this Post
By: Natalie Donald, Social Worker
It’s Read Across America Week! This week, led by the National Education Association (NEA) and guided by a committee of educators, is the nation’s largest celebration of reading. This year-round program focuses on motivating children and teens to read through events, partnerships, and reading resources that are about everyone, for everyone.
Readers who feel included, recognized, and a part of the world are engaged readers. As we celebrate Read Across America, we invite you to read one of my favorite books, The Rabbit Listened, or our other recommended books to start conversations about disability and inclusion.
When I first discovered The Rabbit Listened, it moved me to the point of promptly buying 10 copies for friends and family in my life (child and adult alike). At its core, it is a picture book about empathy and kindness, a skill everyone needs, especially when others in your life need support.
Taylor, the main character, is a child who has something unexpected and challenging happen. With that challenge comes confusing feelings that Taylor doesn’t know what to do with. Many animals like the bear, the elephant, and the ostrich come along and try to help Taylor feel better, but nothing seems to help. Eventually, the rabbit comes along and gives Taylor exactly what he needs. It’s a simple yet profound message about choosing to be “with” someone in their pain. It’s a story that resonates with grief and loss, moments of dysregulation, and those days when you feel like nothing is going your way.
The story provides a beautiful lesson on one of the best things we can do for others. Some call it co-regulation, attunement, affect matching, or mirroring. Others call it listening with warmth, care, and calm. It’s uncomfortable to resist the urge to fix a problem and instead choose to sit with someone and listen.
This connection is the chief thing that calms down the nervous system. It’s what makes someone feel seen, heard, and understood (and isn’t that what we all want after all?). It makes our bodies and brains feel like we can take a deep breath, that we’re not alone, and that we don’t have to feel bad for the way we feel. Sometimes we just have to stop what we are doing, get to the child’s level, and give them our full, undivided “I’m not going anywhere” attention and choose to ride the wave with them until they feel back to themselves again.
In the book, we see that Taylor’s brain and nervous system weren’t ready yet for laughter, or to try again, or feel better. It’s a reminder to all of us (*hand raise- myself included) that we must try to meet others in their pain before we can help them move on to feeling something new. This is true empathy. And again, this connection is the fastest way to get kids (and adults) back into their “thinking brains.” Once the thinking brain is back online, we can then access coping strategies like the animals in the story offer to Taylor.
But remember, coping strategies are not one-size-fits-all. Today one strategy might work great, and by next week… it might not work at all. Some days, I need a good laugh with my husband to shake off the day. Some days, I need to scream into a pillow or need movement to discharge those stressful feelings in my body. Other days, I need a bubble bath or some alone time to myself to reset. And for all of us, there are just those days when NOTHING seems to work at all and on those days, we have to be gentle with ourselves and others. Maybe those are the days we need our own rabbit.
The Lesson in Practice
So with all of that, my challenge for you is to find someone in your life and BE THEIR RABBIT. Being a human is hard sometimes and one of the best gifts you can give to someone is your presence. RESIST THE URGE TO FIX.
Here are some ways to to increase connection when someone is in a challenging moment: (This works for both adults and children. Sometimes you have to repeat multiple times or in different ways.)
- Sitting with someone
- Mirroring their body language
- Offering a hug
Saying something like the statements below (with genuineness or as much care as you can offer in the moment):
- “I am right here with you”
- “I hear you”
- “I’m not going anywhere”
- “I’m listening”
- “You are not alone”
- “I don’t know what to say, but I’m here”
- “I’m here for you now and I will be here whenever you’re ready to share”
- “Take as much time as you need
- “I have felt that way before too (share example)”
- “I think everyone feels that way sometimes”
- “I haven’t been through what you are going through but I imagine that it’s so hard”
*REMEMBER: Give yourself LOTS of grace with this practice. This is hard, and we are all still learning. And remember, even when you mess up, making a relational repair is just as important and powerful!
Social Services at Easterseals
The Easterseals’ Social Services team strives to provide children and families with the mental health support they need to help in these unexpected and challenging moments. We strive to help caregivers and children experience more joyful interactions through attunement and connection. For more information on our services you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2021 Holiday Gift Guide
Sunday, December 12, 2021, 11:39 PM
2021 Holiday Gift Guide
Sunday, December 12, 2021, 11:39 PM
By: Citlaly Gonzalez Psy.D Clinical Psychologist Winter brings chillier temperatures, twinkling ligh…Read this Post
By: Citlaly Gonzalez Psy.D Clinical Psychologist
Winter brings chillier temperatures, twinkling lights, extra family time and the opportunity for holiday shopping and gift-giving. There are many gift guides out there. Big City Readers put together this one that includes toys to support learning and development, and sensory play and of course books! There’s this one by Buzzfeed for kids with endless energy. Easterseals DuPage & Fox Valley offers something unique- a holiday gift guide carefully curated with the needs of our families in mind and offered through the lens of mental health and wellness for the whole family.
Many of the links included in this guide take you to Amazon, so add Easterseals DuPage & Fox Valley as your selected charity through smile.amazon.com and get ready to shop!
Family Time at Home
The old adage your presence is the best present is never truer than during the holidays. This is a great time to think of ways to spend time together during the winter months and look toward ways to create memories throughout the year. Board games bring the family together and there are many great options for even the youngest children. Worried about the meltdowns that happen when a child is still learning to lose graciously? Stick with cooperative games such as those by Peaceable Kingdom. The Race to the Treasure is in heavy rotation in the Social Services department as is Monkey Around, a non-competitive game that includes gross motor play, imitation, vocabulary, and social-emotional skills through a card game that prompts players to do movements together.
There’s no rule that therapy games have to stay in the therapy room. Consider adding some Social Services classics to your own toybox at home and normalize talking about mental health. These Kimochis provide a cute way to talk about feelings and Create a Story cards support sequencing and story-telling. To support calm feelings this card deck introduces mindfulness while this expandable breathing ball brings deep breathing to life.
Winter is long so think of games that keep you moving indoors. Painter’s tape in the multi-color pack is great for creating homemade obstacle courses with little equipment. Add in stepping stones, wobble boards, a figure-eight balance beam, or even tunnels and ball pits to level up the fun indoors.
The Tricky Spots
Not every routine at home brings smiles to children and caregivers. But what if we could provide some tools to support these “tricky spots?” What if we could identify toys that we could integrate into daily routines and incorporate them in ways that help? Think of what part of the day feels challenging and add in some gifts to help make those tasks feel more exciting or run more smoothly.
Bath-time: Put together a Bath bin to make bath time more appealing. “Time for bath” and “Time to choose a bath toy” have a different ring to them. Consider bath crayons, bath paint, bath bombs, bath confetti, color drops, glow-sticks, –any of which would make great stocking stuffers, or you can choose something like this interactive set that lights up and has music parts or a bath-time basketball hoop.
Bedtime: Help create a calm environment and support a healthy bedtime routine with these recommendations that might make your child look forward to bedtime! Create a soothing and distraction-free environment with this bed tent or try a light projector such as this one that creates dinosaur images on the ceiling, this huggable turtle, or this brave bear with his flashlight and book.
Mealtimes: Take some of the struggles out of mealtimes with some of these fun gifts. Which food to try next? Depends on the spinner or the order of this path or these fun plates that are sure to make meals fun. You can also help promote self-help skills and independence with gifts that help your child participate in cooking –not to mention the gift of time and memories made together in the kitchen. Both of these wooden knife and wooden knife set are safe for most novice chefs whereas this one might be more appropriate for children who are ready to use a real knife that is still child-safe.
It would be remiss to make a holiday gift guide without mentioning “the classics” –open-ended toys, art supplies, and books. Here are some Easterseals Dupage & Fox Valley favorites:
Must-Have-Toys: Dolls and dollhouses, blocks, and play food are the play trifecta. If you have these, your play kit is complete! Dolls are great for both boys and girls and help foster pretend play, teach routines, and promote caregiving. Melissa & Doug has a beautiful wooden one while Woodzies offers an option at a lower price point. (Hint: Woodzies have a lot of other settings you can add like the school set to help your child share and tell you about their day). There are many options for play food, with Melissa & Doug offering a wide variety of beautiful sets, some that invite “cutting” or with Velcro pieces to assemble. Speaking of building, blocks are always a hit! Whether it’s Legos, wooden blocks, or a fun option like these, blocks are a great open-ended toy that provides endless possibilities for creative play.
Art: Art provides not only the opportunity to create but also to connect and express thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Some favorites include Crayola Slick Sticks which provide rich color with minimal pressure, perfect for toddler hands and those with motor challenges and Sharing journals such as this one provide a great way to connect with your children through art.
Books: Every book has its perks and particular uses and reasons to recommend it. Poke-a-dot books help support pointing and the Indestructible book series is perfect for children still learning to be gentle with books. Two of my all-time favorite books are The Rabbit Listened which reminds us to stop and listen to what children really need and All the Ways to Be Smart which celebrates the many ways kids learn, play, and explore. Remember, books are not just bound paper, they’re the promise of time spent together bonding and reading with your child.
We have a wonderful library at Easterseals and a carefully curated book list. Ask your therapist for recommendations or contact the Social Services Team. Two favorite resources for book recommendations are Miss Beth and her team at Big City Readers and Kido.
Let’s not forget the caregiver
While the focus of the holidays is often on the children, let’s not forget the gift of a healthy, happy, and well-taken care of parent. I recently saw a post of Mothercould (highly recommend for ideas of activities and sensory play!) where Myriam, the blogger, shared the idea of a gift basket she made for herself for self-care following the birth of her youngest daughter. What an amazing idea! So, this last recommendation is to put together some of your own favorites. Your favorite snacks, gift cards for your favorite store (who doesn’t love a solo trip to Target?), and a note to remember to take care of yourself this holiday season and into the new year.
The best gift for your child . . .
Of course, the focus of any gift should be the recipient and what brings them joy. You are the expert on your child and what they like most! Grant yourself the permission to fill their stocking with the Guaranteed Wins! Confession: my child’s stocking includes a bottle of eczema cream because he loves this part of our nightly routine and a wooden McDonalds food set –a Frankenmixture of trendy wooden toys and the food parents don’t always want to admit their kids love. Those items aren’t likely to be found on anyone else’s gift guide, but they are things I know will bring a smile to his face and will be immediately put to use, and that makes them good gifts!
To determine the best gifts for your child, think of the parts of your day where you could use some support and choose a gift that will grant it. Reflect on your favorite routines and memories with your child and consider ways to incorporate these into your gift. Consider how the gifts you select will be used in a way that supports your family’s health and happiness and above all the time you share together.
While you complete your holiday shopping, don’t forget to checkout at smile.amazon.com with Easterseals DuPage & Fox Valley as your selected charity. You can also take a look at our wishlists for therapist and teacher requested items to send to our centers. Both efforts on Amazon can provide year-round support of our services and programs. The featured items make great developmental toys and gift ideas for children of all ages too. Thank you for supporting us this holiday!
- Villa Park Wishlist
- Features pretend play toys, art supplies, bubbles and baby and toddler toys
- Elgin Wishlist
- Features books, movement and baby toys for use in therapy
- Naperville Wishlist
- Features board games and sensory materials to use in therapy
- Lily Garden Wishlist
- Features kinetic sand, paint and playdoh supplies, fidget toys and more for our infant, toddler, preschool, and pre-k classrooms.
- Villa Park Wishlist
Tips to Decrease Added Sugars in Children’s Diets
Wednesday, August 25, 2021, 4:06 PM
Tips to Decrease Added Sugars in Children’s Diets
Wednesday, August 25, 2021, 4:06 PM
By: Jodi Hoppensteadt MS, RDN, LDN Why Track Added Sugar? It’s Kids Eat Right Month this August, and…Read this Post
By: Jodi Hoppensteadt MS, RDN, LDN
Why Track Added Sugar?
It’s Kids Eat Right Month this August, and below is the skinny on added sugar. It can be tough to track and understand labels and how much is added into our daily food products. The easiest method is for families to focus on foods and beverages that do not contain added sugars.
Too much sugar in a child’s diet can lead to adverse health conditions, including tooth decay, obesity, heart disease, high cholesterol, type two diabetes, and high blood pressure. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children under two years of age should avoid added sugars. Children two years and older should limit their daily intake of added sugars to less than 25g (approximately six teaspoons) each day.
How to Identify Added Sugar on Food Labels
There are two ways to read a food label. One way is to check the Nutrition Facts Panel and look for the line titled: Includes XXg Added Sugars. Focus on foods that contain less than 5% of the Daily Value for added sugars.
The second way to read a label for added sugars is to read the ingredient labels. Added sugars come in many forms and go by many names, including sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrates, fructose, dextrose, honey, molasses, malt, turbinado, and any ingredients ending in -ose.
Tips to Reduce Added Sugars
The following suggestions are other tips on how to avoid added sugars in your child’s diet:
- Limit foods containing added sugars for children over two years of age and avoid beverages with added sugars for children two and under.
- In place of foods with added sugars, try offering foods with natural sugar, which is the sugar naturally found in foods such as fructose found in fruits or lactose found in milk and milk products.
- Limit 100% fruit juice for children and it is a good practice to dilute with water. Do not give fruit juice to children under the age of one.
- 1-3 years of age up to 4 ounces daily.
- 4-6 years of age up to 6 ounces daily.
- 7-14 years of age up to 8 ounces daily.
- Read labels for added sugars in all packaged and/or processed foods and drinks, including crackers, flavored milk (chocolate or strawberry), condiments, cookies, bread/baked goods, and cereals.
Added Sugar Replacements/Substitutes Tips
Here are some food replacements/substitutes to reduce added sugars in specific foods:
- Serve water or milk in place of soft drinks, sports drinks, fruit drinks, sweetened coffees, or teas. Try naturally flavored water at home by adding berries, lemon, lime, cucumber slices, or mint.
- When looking for something sweet, try fresh fruits, frozen fruits, dried fruits, or canned fruits. Canned fruits should be canned in water or natural fruit juice and drained and rinsed. Read food labels for added sugars in both canned and dried fruits.
- Many cold cereals are high in sugar. Look for low sugar cereals such as Chex (Corn or Rice), Cheerios (unflavored), or Kix (unflavored).
- Applesauce often has added sugar but unsweetened applesauce is available.
- Offer only 100% real juice, fresh-squeezed juice, or homemade juice with no sugar added.
- Cookies/cupcakes/baked goods are often high in added sugars but can be homemade with less sugar by substituting part of the sugar with applesauce or reducing the amount of sugar in a recipe by ¼ to ½ of the amount.
- Popsicles and ice cream can be replaced with 100% real fruit popsicles or dark chocolate-covered frozen bananas. Popsicles can also be made at home using fresh fruit, pureeing, and freezing in popsicle molds.
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches can be made with less added sugars by replacing the jam or jelly with fresh fruit such as sliced bananas, apples, or strawberries, or low sugar jelly jams are available. No sugar-added peanut butter is also available.
- Syrup for pancakes and waffles can be replaced with fresh fruit, or frozen blueberries can be heated and pureed to make a “fresh fruit syrup”.
- Read labels for condiments and chose lower sugar varieties or reduce the amount used.
- Granola bars/cereal bars/yogurts look for low added sugar on the nutrition facts panel or ingredient label. There are also many recipes for breakfast cookies online that are low-sugar and easy to make.
Notes on Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners (nonnutritive sweeteners) such as Aspartame, Acesulfame-K, Neotame, Saccharin, Sucralose are found in many food and beverages. The AAP recommends that the amount of artificial sweetener be listed on the nutrition facts label to better help parents and researchers understand how much children are consuming and the possible health effects. There is still a lot to learn about the impact of nonnutritive sweeteners on children’s health. Children under the age of 2 should not be consuming artificial sweeteners.
Notes on Milk and Supplemental Diets
There is no need to limit milk as it contains natural sugars, not added sugars, and provides necessary nutrients, including calcium and vitamin D. Supplemental nutritional beverages such as Pediasure, Boost, and Carnation Breakfast Essentials should not be limited when used to supplement diets to provide additional calories or nutrients or when recommended by a doctor and dietitian. Lower added sugar supplemental nutritional beverages can be purchased from companies such as Kate Farms or Else. Ask your doctor or dietitian if a lower added sugar formula is right for your child.
Comprehensive Pediatric Nutrition Services
If you have any questions or any concerns about your child’s nutrition visit our nutrition therapy page or contact us at email@example.com. Our nutrition team is comprised of RDN’s (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist) who have years of specialty experience working in pediatric nutrition and are ready to help!