Buckle up folks and get ready for an exciting month ahead!!! There is a kite festival, a Pete Sinjin concert, the AMAZING Touch a Truck Event at PS 295 (which SSP is a proud sponsor of), the 5th Ave Street Fair, lots of fun farm activities in Prospect Park...and so much more. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to start filling up my calendar now so I don’t miss out!
May 12th: Touch a Truck
At this unique street fair, NYC kids and their families get up close and personal with a wide variety of emergency vehicles, construction equipment, vintage vehicles, and other cool rigs! But that's not all! Don't miss the amazing food trucks, bouncy houses, music, crafts, free activities, and much more! 11am-5pm, PS 295 at 18th St between 6th and 7th Ave.
May 5th: Lift Off, A Waterfront Kite Festival
Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy is launching its 2018 programming season with a kite festival. Visitors have an opportunity to watch their kites soar above the Manhattan skyline and enjoy special hands on activities exploring the science of flight. The Pier 1 Harbor View Lawn in Brooklyn Bridge Park will be open for anyone to bring their own kites to fly and new kites will also be sold at the event. 12pm- 2:30 pm at the Brooklyn Bridge Pier Park, Pier One in Dumbo.
May 12th and 13th: Mother’s Day Pop-up
Discover local designers and shop handcrafted goods at FAD Market—a roving Fashion, Art and Design pop-up marketplace that travels seasonally to unique venues in the vibrant borough of Brooklyn. This Mother’s Day, FAD Market presents a specially curated selection of over 55 independent designer makers at the newly opened City Point in Downtown Brooklyn. Browse art, jewelry, apparel, bath and body care, tableware and home furnishings; pick out a gift for mom or make a day of it with the whole family. Afterwards, grab a bite at the famed DeKalb Market Hall or head to the nearby Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) for a spot of culture. 11am-6pm, City Point at 445 Albee Square West in Downtown Brooklyn.
May 12th: Holi Hai Color Festival
It's finally time: Governor's Island is opening to the public again in May. And what better way to ring in a new season of fun events on the island than with a literal explosion of color? Visit the island for the Holi Hai Festival, where visitors will be given colorful packets of powder for throwing into the air (and at each other — wear white for an extra-colorful experience). Live music, lots of food, and a special area just for kids will be on display. The event is free but it gets crowded so book your ticket today. Governors Island, 12pm-7pm.
Saturdays and Sundays through June 3rd: Family Discovery Weekends
Experiment, learn, and play together in the Discovery Garden. Hands-on stations throughout the garden’s meadow, woodland, and marsh habitats, and in the vegetable garden encourage families to explore nature together. Create a nature-based craft, artwork, or invention with Discovery Docents. Saturdays 10am-12pm, Sundays 1pm-3pm at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.
May 20th: The Small But Mighty Hootenanny with Pete Sinjin and Friends
Featuring Pete Sinjin and Special Guests: Nikolai Moderbacher, Mary Spencer Knapp and more. Plus Art Making, local Food and special surprises! Profits go to Moms Demand Action. This sing-along is all ages and kids under 1 are free. Bell House, 11am - 1pm. $15 per ticket.
May 20th: Learn to Ride
Bring a bike, a child, and a helmet for this free, fun event! Show your child, 5 years of age or older, how to ride a 2-wheeler using the "balance first" method. Please pre-register at https://www.bike.nyc/education/programs/learn-to-ride-kids/ . For more information, please visit nyc.gov/parks or bikenewyork.org. 12pm-3pm, Kaiser Park in Coney Island Neptune Ave and 31st St.
May 20th: Fun on the Farm
Join Prospect Park Alliance at Lefferts Historic House to learn how sheep's fleece is transformed into wool!
May 20th: Fun on the Farm - An Event for Children with ASD
Join Prospect Park Alliance at Lefferts Historic House for an exclusive event for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The museum will open an hour early and you and your family can learn how wool was used on a Flatbush Farm. Brush the wool with carding paddles, spin yarn using a drop spindle, and make a felt rag doll stuffed with wool to take home with you. Have a fun day of interactive learning experiences with sensory-based exhibits and activities! Attendance is limited and advance registration is required. 11am - 12pm, Lefferts Historic House in Prospect Park.
May 20th: Fabulous 5th Avenue Street Fair!
Come enjoy our wonder fair full of places to eat, drink, shop and have fun! Sterling to 12th Street, 11am-6pm.
May 28th: Memorial Day in Prospect Park
*Join Prospect Park Alliance for nature education programs at the Prospect Park Audubon Center, the first urban Audubon Center in the nation.
Meet Cara Kantrowitz, an Occupational Therapist for the DOE who specializes in childhood feeding issues and happens to be a patient of SSP. Surely this is someone we’d all like to learn from, and we are so very excited that South Slope Pediatrics will be holding a seminar with her on April 29th! As parents I think we have ALL been there, dealing with different variations of picky eaters. This might actually be the most popular topic of discussion between parents of small children. Why does my child suddenly hate the food they once loved? Why is he always “grazing” verses having a full meal? Why can’t she sit down at the dinner table for more than 3 minutes? The questions and concerns are endless. Not only is Cara a licensed therapist, she is also a mother of a 1 YO and 4.5 YO - so she inevitably has experience first hand!
SSP: We are so lucky to be interviewing a beloved member of the SSP community, who happens to be a renown Occupational Therapist! Can you please tell us about Occupational Therapy, and what it means?
April is OT month so it’s a great time for me to share a little about what Occupational Therapy is! A lot of people hear “occupation” and assume we do some kind of job training or return to work therapy. Occupational Therapy refers to “occupation” in the broader sense though, as in the meaningful things you do to fill your time. OTs work in many practice areas across the life span; pediatrics through geriatrics. Some areas of specialization and focus include: home modifications, rehabilitation for orthopedic or neurological conditions, developmental delays and disabilities, mental health, and ergonomics.
I’m a Pediatric Occupational Therapist so I use the occupations of childhood, especially play, to help children improve their skills for participation in their Activities of Daily Living at school, at home, or in the community. These ADLs include fine motor and handwriting skills, social interaction skills, sensory processing and self-care such as dressing, & feeding.
SSP: I understand you specialize in Childhood Feeding Issues. Can you please expand on that, and what it is specifically that you do?
Sure! As an OT my favorite practice area is working with children with feeding issues. I work hands-on providing therapy to children with limited diets to increase tolerance of a wider variety of nutritious foods. For many children this means working to increase the repertoire of sensory experiences they can tolerating relating to food such as flavor, temperature, texture, smell and visual presentation. Feeding therapy also addresses the developmental motor skills needed for safe eating and self-feeding. The goal of feeding therapy is to promote a safe, balanced and healthful diet and enjoyable mealtime experiences to support growth, nutrition and learning. I use a variety of strategies including food play activities, modeling and desensitization to decrease stress around eating and increase joyful mealtime participation.
Since 2013 I have been the OT for the NYC Department of Education Citywide Feeding Team. I give workshops (together with a physical therapist and speech therapist) to OTs, PTs, SLPs, teachers, paraprofessionals, families and others on how to address limited diets related to medical, sensory, motor, and behavioral issues. I also consult with schools and therapist to identify and assess individual student's feeding issues and design appropriate intervention plans.
SSP: How did you find your passion in this field?
When I was still a brand new OT I attended a workshop on assessing and addressing feeding concerns and I loved it! So I attended another and another and began implementing strategies into my own treatment sessions. I saw such positive results, after that I was hooked!
SSP: How has being a mother of 2 affected how you assess and treat children?
Being a parent has, I hope, made me more sensitive to the wide variety of stressors and prioritization that all families must deal with on a daily basis. Raising small humans to be the best people they can be is not easy, and patience and sensitivity for children and their families is key. Being a parent constantly reinforces for me that therapy can't be entirely deficit focused because it impedes your ability to see the whole child, which is such an important tenet of my field. Being a parent has also exposed to me so many on-line and in person parent communities. Interacting with other parents in these communities I have come to realize how much conflicting, or inaccurate information is out there for families struggling with "picky eating", and true feeding issues.
SSP: How do you define “picky eating” and what are the more common reasons behind this behavior?
First off let’s just say that some amount of “picky eating” is totally normal, especially in toddlers. That’s part of why it’s such a problematic term. There are kids who are “picky” and it’s a phase, and it’s normal, and we just want to support them and encourage food exploration. There are lots of fun and simple strategies we can use to address this type of picky eating. Then there are kids who are extremely selective eaters and their diets are not varied enough to support their growth or their nutritional and developmental needs. Extremely selective eaters frequently have multi-factorial feeding issues. There is often an underlying medical factor such as reflux, allergies or frequent illnesses. Many of these kids have underlying motor or sensory processing deficits that affect feeding as well. Finally, layered on top of that, may be maladaptive habits, that can't even be addressed until the underlying issues are remedied. These kids often need therapeutic intervention to address their feeding concerns.
SSP: As a mother of 2, one being a 2.5 YO, I am experiencing this first hand on a daily basis, and it is a little stressful. Snacking all day seems to be the norm, and sitting for a full meal seems close to impossible (meaning both parts of this statement - the actual sitting, and eating a full meal)! Is this normal and do you have any advice?
Yes, its common, and yes, I have some advice.
1. Try not to stress, your stress level around mealtime and feeding can have a pretty major effect on your kids feelings about eating and mealtime. Take a deep breath, smile, count to 10. Do whatever you need to do to help yourself feel calm, it will help your kids too!
2. Remember that kids' tummies are small (about the size of their fist) so the actual amount they need in a given meal isn't nearly as much as you or I.
3. If the SITTING part of sitting for a meal is problematic in your household be sure to start off with proper supportive seating for mealtime. For many kids, if they are sitting in a grown up size chair with their feet dangling, they are using all their energy to stay upright in that chair and reach and they just don't have anything left for actually eating. This can be especially true at dinner time (or just before a nap) when kids are already tired from their day. Be sure to position kids in an appropriate size chair or use a foot rest so that their feet can be firmly and securely planted during meals with hips, knees and ankles at approximately 90 degrees.
4. All day snacking can be a really hard habit to break. I'm a big fan of carrying water bottle for those times when kids need "something", but aren't actually hungry. 3 meals and 2-3 snacks a day should really be enough. One way to work on this is by separating mealtime and play time. This way during mealtime the focus is on eating and not on TV, iPad or toys etc. I don't let me kids walk around the house with snacks; if they are eating its at the table. Feeling hunger is NOT the end of the world. If your kiddos are healthy, and growing along their growth curve its ok for them to be hungry sometimes, and to hear, "Ok, but dinner is in 30 minutes so we are not going to have a right snack now". Getting hunger and satiety cycles back on track will help with having more successful mealtimes as well.
SSP: Are there certain goals we should shoot for every day or week? How do we measure “success” in regards to feeding our children?
To me success means that your family is able to enjoy happy stress-free mealtimes full of nutritious foods. It means raising kids who are willing to try new foods, even if they don't like them all. Above all, it means having kids who's food intake supports their growth, nutrition and development so they are as prepared as possible for learning and engaging with the world around them.
SSP: What is your number one piece of advice for mothers who are worried about their children’s eating habits?
Try not to stress! That doesn't help anyone, and for many kids, this too shall pass. That and ask for help. If you are concerned, seek out advice from knowledgeable professionals. Also, know that not all medical professionals have a strong knowledge base regarding feeding, so if you don't feel like you got the help you needed don't be afraid to keep looking for the supports you need.
Guys, we made it through another winter. So get out of your apartment, leave the routine at home and let’s go explore the outdoors and all that NYC has to offer! Here are a few ideas that will surely help you break away from those winter blues and SPRING into new adventures!
Let your kids explore in the cities’ many children’s gardens, including the South Brooklyn Children’s Garden, where they can explore the onsite butterfly garden, strawberry patch, herb boxes and greenhouse - and more!
What can both parents and kids enjoy with the same level of enthusiasm….FOOD!!!!! And here it is….right in Prospect Park at Smorgasburg. There are 12 new vendors added to the line-up this year, including Dashi Fried Chicken (Korean fried chicken fried to order)...and Lobsterdamus, who grills whole lobsters and garlic butter, lemon and parsley, and served over noodles. They’ll also have lobster truffle fries and lobster nachos! Drooling yet?
Speaking of food - go find the city’s best ice cream. Ample Hills is right here in Gowanus, where you can indulge in the yummiest of yummy ice creams and kids can even watch the ice cream get made.
Celebrate Earth Day in Union Square on April 15th, and educate our children about how to best take care of our planet while enjoying kids activities and live performances.
Not motivated to schlep across town? The most incredible park is right in your backyard. Don’t forget: family bike rides, roller skating, boating, the carousel, the zoo and 7 playgrounds including my absolute favorite, the Zucker Natural Exploration Area. Just across the street from the zoo - check out the amazing cherry blossoms at BBG!!!!
Celebrate culture at the spring fling at Lincoln Center. Every year, Lincoln Center celebrates longer, sunny days and the fresh blooms with its annual Spring Fling for kids. Families descend upon the plazas at in Lincoln Center for a free full day of programming, which includes storytellers, short films presented by the Film Society and special performances by the world-renowned musical artists who call LC home.
Check out the Brooklyn Waterfront in Red Hook, admire views of the statue of liberty, get some seafood and sit outside at Brooklyn Crab (Its massive backyard features an eight-hole miniature golf course, a beanbag toss and shuffleboard)! And don’t forget to take the IKEA ferry for a ride.
Battery Park is just over the river and there is SO much fun to be had! The Seaglass Carousel is a favorite, and hop over to one of the many waterfront restaurants after for a lazy Sunday brunch. Rockefeller Park is one of the coolest playgrounds you’ll see, with a pedal-powered merry-go-round and multiple sandboxes, including a handicapped accessible sand-table.
Yankee stadium of course! The seats are roomier, there’s legroom (and cup holders), the food options are more diverse, and (yipee) there are more bathrooms. There's now a private space for nursing mothers with seats and outlets for electric pumps (amazing). And for you Mets fans, you’ve got to check out Citifield with your little ones if you haven’t yet. Changing tables in all bathrooms.. And they often hold cool themes like “Star Wars Night” where Chewbaca throws the first pitch!