Tips and Tricks

Meal Time

Problem: My daughter wants to eat by herself; however, she has a hard time holding onto the utensils and gets so frustrated when we try to help her.

Solution: The things that helped us were using the most basic household items. We were able to make the handles of the spoons bigger by using the stiff curlers (WalMart, Target, beauty supply store) to place around the handles of the utensils. We then also got the plates that were plastic with separated areas for the food (Target, WalMart). This will allow her to be able to scoop up the food and place it onto the spoon. You can also give her more choices of what foods or things she needs by placing pictures onto a plastic place mat that goes under her food (i.e., picture of juice/milk, sign “all done”, pictures of food items or “more”). You can determine what is motivating for her to communicate and tape them onto the mat so that they will always be in the same place. You can also get some rubber shelf lining (WalMart, Target) and place it underneath her tray or bowl to keep it from slipping off of the mat or table.

Problem: Ten month old Katie is not able to sit up in her high chair because she is too small and doesn’t have enough trunk support to sit independently for longer than a few minutes. Any ideas on how we can adapt the high chair?

Solution: Using rolled up towels; you can provide bolstering support in the high chair. These could tuck or stack around the baby’s sides and back, and can be easily adjusted.

Bath Time

Problem: My one-year-old son will not sit still in the bathtub. He has does not sit well and when he’s wet it is so hard to keep a hold of him! What should I do?

Solution: I have had a similar problem with my son. I tried putting a non-slip mat on the bottom of the tub but that only worked a little bit. Then I put a small laundry basket with towels around the edges and sides to provide more support. I also velcroed (available at JoAnn Fabric store) the soap dispenser to the side of the tub so that I could get soap out with one hand (the other hand was busy holding my child steady). A small ring that kids use in the swimming pool could also work, preferably one with holes for the legs. I also find that if I keep a few plastic cups for pouring water into his hands he is so interested in catching the “waterfall” that he stops sliding all over!

Problem: My two year old is too big for her infant bathtub but still needs a bath chair. Insurance will not cover a bath chair. Are there any resources or solutions for obtaining a bath chair for a 30 pound (and growing) child?

Solution: In Colorado you can contact Assistive Technology Partners. They can provide you with plans for a custom bath chair that you can make using PVC. The materials will cost around $30 and the chair is not difficult to assemble.


Problem: My child hates being strapped into his car seat. Unfortunately we spend plenty of time in the car. Any suggestions to make this easier?

Solution: Try putting a piece of velcro (available at JoAnn Fabric store) on the sides of your child’s car seat and attaching toys to the sides. A small mirror (available at drug stores in the health and beauty department) strapped to the driver or passenger seat can also help entertain him. Talk to him about making different faces into the mirror (sad, happy, silly, etc.) I find that in the car, toys with buttons that activate lights, music, or vibrate really keep him from fussing. Board books that have buttons for music along the side (available at Target and WalMart) are also a big hit. Let him put colorful sticky notes or puffy stickers on the window. They can be very entertaining and peel off without too much hassle. Another idea is to velcro pictures onto the back of the driver’s seat so he could see them from his car seat. You could begin with just putting the picture of where you are going or the people you are going to go and see. After your child becomes more familiar with the photos, you could place several photos that align with your schedule for the day. You can talk to your child about where you are going and what you will be doing for the day.

Out in the Community

Problem: When it is time to go grocery shopping my toddler won’t sit safely in the shopping cart and usually has a complete tantrum when we are checking out. What can I do to make this tolerable for both of us?

Solution: Try attaching toys to the handlebar of the grocery cart using sassy rings (available at most grocery stores and Target). Have your child help to load the non-perishable and non-breakable food items into the cart, like cereal boxes, bread, crackers, granola bars, etc. You could also have your child hold onto the coupons and try to match them to the items on the shelves. If you don’t use coupons, try cutting labels or pictures from boxes you commonly use at home and have the child match those items to items on the shelves. If your child has difficulty maintaining a comfortable position while sitting in the cart, try padding it with your coat or her favorite blanket. At the check-out have your child help to load the items onto the conveyor belt, play “I-spy” or allow her to listen to her favorite music through headphones (a CD Walkman can be bought at WalMart for approximately $20)

Problem: My son is hypersensitive to UV rays but loves to go for rides in his wagon. We even take his wagon to the zoo and parks. What can we do to keep him from direct sunlight?

Solution: Using a large umbrella and a length of PVC pipe you can make a custom sunshade. First measure the diameter of the umbrella handle. Attach a 1-2 foot length of PVC pipe (with a diameter greater than the umbrella handle) to the outside of the wagon in two places using clamps or screws. Be sure that any hardware in the inside wall of the wagon is flush and not protruding into the seating space. Fix a long bold across the diameter of the pipe a few inches from the bottom. Slide the umbrella handle into the pipe.

Brushing Teeth

Problem: My child hates brushing his teeth at bedtime. He often gets so upset that he gags and throws-up.

Solution: Sometimes different flavored toothpaste can be enough to peak their interest in brushing their teeth. Another thing that worked for me was to get an electric toothbrush (available at some drug stores and Target). The vibration was so soothing to him that he settled right down. We still have to work on getting to those back molars but at least he does not run away every time its time to brush!

Bed Time

Problem: My daughter will not stay in her “big-girl” bed at night.

Solution: Try putting her mattress on the floor against the wall and put a single-sided bed rail (available at Babies R Us for $34) on the other side. My daughter also felt more secure when she had a nightlight or flashlight close by. I also used some glow-in-the-dark paint (there are also stickers/appliques available at Hobby Lobby) to draw stars, shapes, and patterns on the ceiling. It is very soothing and helps her to want to stay put so she can see the stars. I also turn on a fan for white noise, a humidifier or aquarium can work as well.


Problem: Six month old Marina enjoys playing with cause-effect toys. She also likes to watch her brothers play. How can she be positioned so that she can participate in these activities?

Solution: Lying on her side with support such as rolled up towels or a wedge, she could watch her brothers and engage with toys placed within her reach. Or try using a Boppy pillow for upper body support, while she lays chest down, with her hands in front to access toys. Even at six months, an infant should never be left unattended.


Problem: Our one year old will have surgery soon and will be confined to a full body cast. What can we use to support her? We’ll need a support that will evenly distribute her weight.

Solution: One option may be to use a bean bag chair, available at department stores. Another option may be to take a few blankets, roll them up and wrap the roll with tape (duct or another strong tape). The blankets could be fuller in some places to accommodate the cast.