Today I am excited to share with you 30 OT life hacks as part of the American Occupational Therapy Association’s (AOTA’s) campaign to promote the field of occupational therapy!
What’s a life hack, you ask? A life hack is any trick, shortcut, or new method that solves an everyday problem.
So what’s an OT life hack? An OT life hack is any trick, shortcut, or new method that allows a person to more fully participate in activities that are important or meaningful to them. In the world of OT, we refer to these meaningful activities as “occupations”.
Occupational therapists are full of handy little life hacks to improve daily living!
If you have been following Mama OT for any length of time, then you know how much I love to share these types of tips and tricks to help kids and their grown-ups. In fact, I have tracked down 30 life hacks shared on the blog over the past two and a half years, and have now put them together ALL IN ONE POST so they are right here at your very fingertips! Each hack contains a link to the original post, so click on the link to learn more about each one.
Now keep on reading to find out how you can use these tips and tricks to make life a little easier for you and the kids in your life!
30 OT Life Hacks: Tricks to Make Life Easier for You and Your Child
1. Use a therapy ball to make tummy time easier and more fun for your baby (and for you, too!)
2. Place a rolled up receiving blanket or small towel under baby’s chest to make tummy time easier and help baby learn to start pushing his chest off the floor.
3. Take two or all four legs off of a baby play table in order to make play time on the floor easier and more developmentally-appropriate for your young baby.
4. Roll up a receiving blanket or small towel and place it behind your new baby’s back to make it easier to play on their side and develop pre-rolling skills (BONUS: it also helps prevent flat spots from forming on the back of your sweet baby’s head!).
5. Carry your baby in a variety of positions such as tucked, sideways, or airplane position to make it easier for them to learn to roll.
6. Set down and pick up baby while shifting their weight to the side in a rolling motion. Doing this with each diaper change and nap time (which is like, what, a dozen times a day?) can make it easier for them to learn to roll…plus it’s actually easier on your back. Score!
7. Use a baby food pouch to teach your baby how to drink from a straw.
8. When your baby has grabbed a chunk of your hair and won’t let go, gently press down on the back of their hand and it will cause their fingers to loosen their death grip on your luscious locks (works for getting them to let go of daddy’s leg hair, too!)
For Parents and Caregivers:
9. Hold your baby by keeping your thumb tucked close to your hand to prevent an injury commonly referred to as “mommy thumb”.
10. Lick your palm and fingers before holding baby on your hip. Just like licking your finger to turn the page of a book. It makes your hands more grippy and less likely to hold baby in a position that’s bad for your wrist. I know, it sounds gross. But just think about all the other baby-care stuff you do every day that’s WAY grosser. Yeah.
11. Use a Moby Wrap to calm your colicky baby.
12. Use a nursing support pillow when breast feeding or bottle feeding to minimize strain on your back, shoulders, and wrists. Remember, young babies eat like 8-10 times a day, sometimes up to an hour at a time. Save your back and arms!
13. If you are nervous about breastfeeding in public, practice in front of a mirror. You’d be surprised at how helpful this can be, especially if you’re self-conscious about accidentally exposing yourself.
14. If you pump on a regular basis, use a hands-free pumping bra. It will save you time and pain and will seriously make your life easier!
15. Before you pump, coat the inner neck of your pump shields with lanolin.
For Toddlers and Preschoolers:
17. Store your child’s toy parts or coloring supplies in containers that have zips and snaps on them in order to give them regular fine motor practice. This can help make self-dressing easier for them as they learn to do fasteners!
18. Use a button snake to help your child learn how to button.
19. Use a pullover bib at meal times to incorporate regular practice of the skills needed for learning to put on and take off a shirt.
20. Have your child color with broken crayons to promote correct grasp.
21. Use play dough to introduce scissor snipping to your little one.
22. Use play dough as boundaries for cutting.
23. Help a kiddo who is nervous about playing with “messy” materials by giving them a tool so they can interact with it and warm up to it, but not yet touch it.
For Elementary School Kids:
24. Instantly improve a kid’s pencil grasp by having them hide a small item under their last two fingers.
25. Give your kid a short pencil to promote a more mature pencil grasp.
26. For a student who has a hard time figuring out how to grasp the pencil, teach them the “Pinch and Flip”.
27. Teach your lefty to hold their pencil about an inch above the tip and slide their paper slightly to the left of their body to help them better see what they’re writing.
28. Teach a lefty to know and be able to tell someone they are left-handed. Grown-ups tend to assume kids are all right-handed unless told otherwise!
29. Give your kid crunchy foods and drinks with a straw to help them focus.
30. Use dual-colored laces to teach a struggling kid how to tie shoes.
So there you go!
Want to learn more clever solutions to everyday problems? Hop on over to Twitter and check out #OTlifehack.
And stop by the blogs of my fellow occupational therapists to learn their clever OT life hacks as well!
What are your favorite OT life hacks to make life a little easier for kids and their grown ups?