How-to: Handle Social Events with a Newborn

Fresh little newborn babies, is there anything better? The stage of infancy is so precious and goes by so quickly. Before you know it they are crawling and walking and talking. When you have a newborn, you are not the only one who wants to see them, hold them, and love on them. What a beautiful thing to have a community that loves your new baby almost as much as you do. I want to take a moment to bask in that: if you’re willing, pause. Take a moment to close your eyes and take 3 deep breaths, then think of 5 people that love your baby (almost) as much as you do. What a blessing to have those humans in your life.

Now – Mamas, Papas, and Caregivers – hear me when I say this, you are in control of your family unit and you have a right to participate in community in a way that feels best for your family.

Whether you are having a viewing party, social gathering, or seasonal events are coming up. Here are some ways to manage all the love that is coming your way.

I had a mama recently ask me about how to handle not over committing to events when you have a new baby.

If you’re reading this, I want to give you some permission slips.

First – permission to say “yes” to events when you feel up for it, and “no” when something does not align with you and your family.

Second – permission to change your mind. Share with the host of the event, or your family, that you would love to come but that you will have to let them know day of.

It is PERFECTLY OKAY to change your mind.

If you wake up the morning of the event and attending something does not align with you on that day, cancel. This isn’t “flaking,” this is you intuitively knowing your family needs and then acting on what is best for your family at that moment. It’s near impossible to know what life with a newborn with throw at you a week (or more) in advance – playing things by ear and sharing your needs honestly with the host may be the best way to honor you and your newborn’s needs.

Germs and Illness

Another mom recently asked about how to keep baby safe and away from germs during social gatherings or when your family wants to visit with the baby. A couple thoughts on this…

Wash your hands, please!

Hand washing is a must. The number one way to keep the spreading of germs to a minimum is to wash your hands. Asking friends and family to wash their hands before holding your baby is an easy way to decrease the risk of your newborn picking up adult germs. If you are not in a setting where hand washing is available, the second best option, hand sanitizer, can help as well. Either way, wash those hands!

Adult Illnesses

If a family member is currently sick or has recently been ill, unfortunately holding the baby may not be in the cards for them that day. Ask that they wait to hold the baby. Share with them about RSV and how serious is can be for newborns. Adults can carry RSV with minimal to no symptoms and easily pass this to newborns because their immune system is not as strong as ours yet.

Pass the baby

If you are practicing Conscious or Respectful Parenting, you may not want you baby passed around from friend to friend or family member to family member. If you are not ready to share your “why” behind this preference. Wear your baby. There are SO MANY benefits to baby wearing, a benefit that isn’t discussed in the literature often is the benefit that you are able to move your baby around a social gathering without the risk of others “passing the baby.”

Time and Presence Boundaries

Setting time limits on parties is something that I do for myself as an adult. If I really want to attend something but I know I have been over extended lately, I will commit to myself a time to leave the party.

You can do this for your family too. Share this timing with your close family members, so they know what to expect. Please also know that you don’t have to walk in the door at the party and exclaim – “WE’RE HERE BUT WE’RE ONLY STAYING FOR AN HOUR”… not that you would, but know you don’t owe everyone an explanation.

  • Agree beforehand with yourself and/or your partner. Maybe you agree to 1-hour at the party.
  • (Again), permission to change your mind, leave if it’s too much and stay longer if you’re really enjoying yourself.
  • You also do not have to show up at all — FaceTime into the party to say hello if that day doesn’t align for your family.

Declining Events

Some, including myself, have a difficult time declining invites when something doesn’t align with us. I want to attend everything and I frequently feel like I’m missing out if I decline an invitation.

I can’t say this enough. You know what’s best for your family and you know if there is an invitation you need to decline. So, HOW do we do this if declining invitations is something that comes with difficulty for us.

If you feel an event will be too much for you and your family, you can kindly share,

“Thank you so much for the invite, right now we are getting settled with our new little one and we would love to raincheck for when we’re more settled.”


“Thank you for the invite, it sounds like a blast. We can stop by for an hour around (this time), would that work?”

The Viewing Party

If you’re up for hosting at your place, many parents are also now having “viewing parties” where all the family and friends can come when the baby is a bit older and their immune system is ready. This gets all the visits in during one afternoon and can be less stressful than constant visits or parties.

There are so many ways to set boundaries and choose what is best for your family. Know that boundary setting is uncomfortable for many, and that I applaud you for your recognition and awareness for the need to protect your energy and family unit. Your awareness of this need makes you a stellar caregiver already.

Rotational Menus for Picky Eaters

Picky Eaters and Parent Personal Chefs

Sometimes, kids can get stuck in what are called “food-jags.” A food-jag may look like a kid only wanting yogurt and waffles for breakfast, every morning. Or, refusing to eat anything but chicken nuggets and mac and cheese for dinner.

Food-jags set parents up to be personal chefs for their children and they set up children to have potential issues with nutritional intake and growth.

Kid Foods

Parents: no shame here! This is common with kids these days. “Kid foods” are pushed on parents with some pretty amazing marketing and a lot of adults fall into this way of feeding their kids. If you haven’t heard of this term, “Kid Foods” are what I define as any food that has been altered to cater to children or altered to be marketable to children and their parents. Think Eggo Waffles, Puree Packets, Kraft Mac and Cheese, Kids Cereals, GoGurts — the “kid food” industry is massive!

Unfortunately, Kid Foods create narrow food varieties and most importantly to me as a feeding therapist — the nutritional content of these kid foods are minimal. My last complaint on these foods and the most inconvenient for the parents I work with — kid foods make parents personal chefs for their kids.

I have worked with parents who make a different meal for each human in their family, every meal. Holy cow.

FIRST, know you are not alone, and SECOND – please, know it does not have to be this way!

You know what’s easier?

  1. Kids eating whatever you put on their plate.
  2. Kids eating what you’ve already prepared for the rest of the family.

How do we get to this point?

Here is how I use Rotational Menus in my feeding therapy practice to combat food-jags and increase the items on kids’ accepted food lists.

Remember the end goal: they eat what you serve.

How-to use Rotational Menus for Picky Eaters

Be excited, make it fun, and disclose your intentions and plans fully.


  • The name of the game with any picky eating recovery is to keep it fun, light, and stress-free.
  • The first rule of Rotational Menus: we can’t eat the same thing two-days in a row.
  • MOST IMPORTANT: COMMUNICATION! Children understand more than we give them credit for. To be respectful of our children, we need to tell them what is going to happen. This may look like:

“Hey ____, remember how mommy is always asking you to try new foods? I know you LOVE toast, I love it too! It’s so yummy. I want you to be able to go to friends’ houses and eat fun things with them, and I want you to go to fun places like (insert favorite place here) and eat their fun food. So we’re going to try something new. There will be a menu on the refrigerator for breakfast, you get to choose what you want to eat but you cannot eat the same thing two days in a row. I’m so excited for you to try this game! We’re going to start tomorrow. I can’t wait.”

Alright, Let’s be like Mike

Let’s pretend we’re using Rotational Menus with a kid named Mike. Mike is a “picky eater.” Mike eats plain toast for breakfast, every day. That’s what he asks for and it’s the only thing he is willing to eat. So, that’s what mama makes.

Per Rotational Menu rules: Mike CAN in fact eat plain toast, but he cannot eat it two days in a row.

Week 1

Sometimes with kids like Mike, I start slow and introduce the concept of Rotational Menu’s where he’s already at.


Week 2

Mike also likes cereal and butter on plain bread — so, per Rotational Menu rules he can choose toast with butter, cereal, or plain toast. BUT, if Monday morning’s choice was plain toast, Tuesday’s breakfast has got to have another choice. The fun part for Mike, he gets to choose his breakfast from these options.


Week 3

NOW we’re expanding. Mike likes peanut butter and crackers. So we’re taking that preferred food (peanut butter) and adding it to another preferred food (toast) in order to expand variety.


Week 4

Look at the AWESOME variety Mike has!! Let’s layer the variety! Mike loves bananas, so let’s put some of those on his peanut butter toast.


At this point, Mike has a Rotational Menu AND routine of variety with his preferred foods. Now that he is used to variety, introducing new foods into this line-up can begin. This is where we start bringing in more nutritious options like berries, eggs, avocado, etc. etc. etc.!

Communication and the way Rotational Menu’s are presented to children are the MOST IMPORTANT part of all of this. We need to be sure kids know what is happening during mealtimes so they are prepared and grounded, not surprised and stressed at change that is out of their control.

What questions do you have? Comment below or reach out for a Free Consultation if you feel this may work with your little one.

The concept of Rotational Menu’s stems from Dina Rose’s work, including her book, It’s Not About The Broccoli.


Featured Photo: by Hal Gatewood

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How-to Make Back to School a Breeze for You and Your Kids

Back to School! The transition from Summer to School can be tough on little ones, and frankly, for the whole family. Whether your child is starting preschool, or headed back to their school in a new classroom – these tips and tricks will help ease the transition period for everyone.

I’ve teamed up the The Sensory Project to bring you these tips and resources for your back to school kids! For more information make sure you listen to their podcast that goes live on August 14th!

In the meantime, if your child has an IEP, listen to their most recent episode, IEPs and Advocating for your Child’s Education.

The_Sensory_Project_Show_2_large COMING SOON (8/14/19) Back to School Tips


IEPs and Advocating for your Child’s Education

Tips for the Summer to School Transition

Make the Trip

If your child’s new school offers a “meet and greet” day where kids can go see their teachers, classroom, and school, take advantage of it! Allowing a child to see where they will be spending a lot of their time can be helpful and ease their worries.

When we know what to expect, we can more easily regulate. I think of this as seeing an office I will be working in before my first day on a new job. Or, when I’ve spoken to large groups in the past, it eases my worries to see the space I will be speaking in before hand – same concept for little ones.

If your school does not offer this, call the office and ask when a good time would be to bring your child for a tour of the school. You don’t need an official tour — just walking around the school and pointing out the important landmarks can be helpful (library, gym, classroom, playroom, etc.) If you can have your child meet their teacher(s) before hand, even better!

Picture It

When you make the trip to school, take photos of the different classrooms and areas your child will be spending time. Print off these photos and put them into an album or make a small book for your child. Flip through the book with them and allow them to review it on their own as well. Visually processing what life will look like day to day at school can help ease worry and ease them into the back to school routine.


Focused Time

I won’t get into my feelings on the requirements of young children in terms of attention spans for school – but depending on your child’s age, they may be expected to focus on an activity for X amount of minutes. Work up to this at home before school starts.

For example if they need to be able to spend 10 minutes in circle time, or 30 minutes doing table top activities – start at home with 2 minutes, 5 minutes, then work up to the time they will need pay attention for school.

Make the activities preferred activities they enjoy. Mix it up! If they love to pretend, play “school” and include yourself and siblings, everyone taking a turn to pretend to be the teacher.

Back to School Shopping

Include your child in any back to school shopping. Clothing, supplies, whatever – if they are able to help choose their new supplies and clothing, it can give them a sense of grounding and confidence to brave the new world of school.

If this is not in your budget this year, taking them thrifting and pick up a couple new t-shirts and a pack of pencils. I am always amazed what I find when I pop into a Goodwill or Kid to Kid consignment store.

Good Mornings

Start the morning school routine 1-2 weeks before school starts. This may look like (during the week) family is up at the time they will need to be for school, dressed, breakfast, all in time to get to a fun summer activity like the pool, museum, park – anything.

Getting the morning routine down before the first week of school can make the transition to early mornings a little easier for the whole family.

Tools for Back to School

The Sensory Project and I came up with this list for things that can help children with sensory needs (or without) transition back into and enjoy school!


If you are unsure if your child would benefit from one of these items, please reach out to Rachel at The Sensory Project or myself – or work with a licensed occupational therapist in your area.

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