Pediatric Occupational Therapy in Newmarket & Toronto
The term “Occupational Therapist” is a bit confusing when it comes to kiddos. Given that we’re used to the term “occupation” meaning “job”, it can seem like a misnomer.
With Occupational Therapists, the definition of “Occupation” is simply “whatever occupies your time”. In the case of infants and babies, they spend their time growing, learning, playing, eating, sleeping, learning to crawl and walk, learning to communicate, and more.
With older children, it may also mean learning to cope with schoolwork and the demands of school, homework, social interactions, dealing with sensory issues, and more.
We can help your child meet their milestones
Paediatric Occupational Therapy Packages
We can help your little one develop and grow optimally
Baby Steps Classes
Did you ever wonder if your baby is progressing at the right pace? Are they crawling or rolling over at the right time? Eating, sleeping or playing in a way that helps their brain and body develop? West End Mamas offers a Baby Steps mom and baby class online that is led by our occupational therapists, and may be covered by your insurance. These small groups are a perfect opportunity to meet other parents in the community and support one another (bonus: it may be covered by your insurance!).
In this 6-week series, our occupational therapists provide education and guidance to parents. You will learn about your baby’s typical development and how to support their motor, sensory, sleep, feeding, play and co-regulation skills. We will also assist you to identify and navigate the challenges in each of these areas.
See below for our upcoming online classes:
- Baby Steps Level 1 is for ages 6 weeks – 6 months
- Baby Steps Level 2 is for ages 6 months – 1 year old
Pediatric Occupational Therapy in Toronto and Newmarket
Welcoming a baby into the family is incredible, but it can certainly come with its own unique challenges. All babies are different and as parents gradually learn about their child there are always many questions and worries.
Infant or Pediatric Occupational Therapy services are available online and in-person. An occupational therapist works with your baby, one-on-one, to assess and address any concerns regarding your baby’s motor development, feeding skills, play skills, and other physical and neurological development.
Pediatric occupational therapists can assess the following in babies and children:
- Delayed Gross Motor Skills (e.g. not crawling, sitting, walking, rolling on time )
- Delayed Fine Motor Skills (e.g. issues using holding toys, cutlery, scissors, etc)
- Low or excess muscle tone (e.g. floppy, poor or limp muscles tone)
- Feeding challenges (e.g. heightened sensitivity to certain textures, overly picky, difficulty transitioning to solid food)
- Sensory related issues (e.g. over or under sensitive to noises, textures, tastes, sensory seeking)
Pediatric occupational therapy can also help in these areas:
- Strategies to address challenges transitioning to solid foods
- Strategies and therapy for babies who have sensory sensitivities
- Autism assessment
- Exercises and play for babies with motor development delays
- Strategies to minimize plagiocephaly/flat head syndrome
- Stretches and exercises for torticollis (wry neck)
- …and more!
Common Questions About Pediatric Occupational Therapy
How do I know if my baby needs an occupational therapist?
Your baby may benefit from an occupational therapy assessment if you and/or your baby’s pediatrician has concerns about developmental delays in the area of motor skills, feeding or cognitive skills.
The assessment will provide an understanding of your baby’s strengths and challenges. Treatment will focus on strategies to teach and progress your baby in learning a new skill.
Do I need a referral?
You do not need a referral to see an occupational therapist. If you have concerns about your baby’s development, feel free to contact the therapist to discuss the possibility of an assessment.
Please check with your insurance provider to see if you have coverage.
What ages do you work with?
At West End Mamas, we focus on pediatric occupational therapy for newborns to toddlers (age 0 to 2 years).
What’s the difference between infant physical therapy and infant occupational therapy?
In the most simple terms, Physical Therapists (PT) specialize in gross motor issues and development. While Occupational Therapists (OT) focuses on the issues and development for occupation, which for babies is mainly play, sleeping and eating. There are many areas that affect occupation, such as gross motor, fine motor, sensory, and cognitive skills.
There is a lot of overlap between OTs and PTs because gross motor and movement is a big component of development for babies. For example, a 5-month-old won’t be able to engage in play if they are not strong enough to roll (gross motor), but the baby’s play can also be affected by their cognitive abilities, sensory abilities, and fine motor skills.
An OT will work on all areas of development towards the goal of increased play, but a PT will likely focus on a goal like increase strength for rolling. OTs are also a better fit if there are issues around feeding (ie. chewing, swallowing or sensory-related).
What happens on the first pediatric occupational therapy visit?
During the first visit, your occupational therapist will review your baby’s medical history and discuss your concerns. An assessment of your baby’s skills will be completed by a combination of formal testing and observations through play. At the end of the session the therapist will provide an analysis and recommend treatment options. Treatment is always in collaboration with the family and can include returning for therapy or a home program.
What can I expect during follow-up pediatric occupational therapy sessions?
Follow-up sessions can vary depending on your baby’s treatment plan.. Babies who are returning for therapy will work one-on-one with the therapist to develop skills; parents can observe and practice these hands-on techniques. Some babies will be re-assessed and introduced to new activities for a home program. Everything is tailored to meet the family’s and baby’s needs.
How quickly can I expect my baby to progress?
Progress depends on your baby’s delays, diagnosis and treatment. Usually we start seeing some improvement within 3 to 4 weeks of starting a treatment plan.
How does occupational therapy differ from babies to older kids?
Pediatric occupational therapy focuses on occupation as the goal therapy for a baby. Treatment for an older child will differ because occupational and developmental stages are quite different. An OT goal for a baby may be to work on fine motor skills so the baby can reach and play with a toy above his/her head. While an OT goal for a child in school would be to increase fine motor skills so that the child can hold his/her pencil to write their name.
Is it occupational therapy covered by my extended health insurance?
We can provide an itemized occupational therapy receipt at the end of the one-on-one occupational therapy session or the Baby Steps workshop series for you to submit to your extended health insurance plan. Please note that every health insurance is different and you can check to see if you have coverage.
Common Questions About Virtual Occupational Therapy
What can virtual occupational therapy services address?
Paediatric OT services are available to you safely and virtually! If you have concerns about whether your baby is reaching their developmental milestones or if you are having difficulties helping your child transition to solids we can help via online sessions.
Do I need a referral for occupational therapy?
You do not need a referral to see an occupational therapist. If you have concerns about your baby’s development and believe an occupational therapist can address them, feel free to contact West End Mamas or book an assessment online.
Services may be covered under your health plan – please check with your insurance company for details.
What can I expect when I schedule an appointment?
After you schedule your appointment, the occupational therapist will contact you to discuss your concerns and help you prepare for the scheduled appointment. In most cases, the therapist will have you prepare a play area or feeding area for your baby where the camera will be set up for observations.
How will the virtual OT assessment be conducted?
After a detailed conversation with the therapist, you will be taken through step by step instructions on how to set up activities for your baby so the therapist can observe their skills during structured play activities. The observations, along with your knowledge of your baby’s behaviour, will provide a lot of information regarding his/her development.
What can I expect from follow-up OT sessions?
In follow-up sessions, you can expect the therapist to contact you ahead of time to inform you of the activities that will be completed and what you need to prepare for those activities. During the session the therapist will guide you through a series of activities for therapeutic skill building. All activities will be tailored to your baby’s needs and goals.
Do I need any special OT equipment?
Likely not! The best tool to stimulate your baby’s development is usually their parent’s love and interaction, so you are the most important thing to the sessions. If we need other toys or equipment we can likely use what you already have.
West End Mamas works with insurance companies to do online billing for treatments, whenever possible. Simply ask if your insurance company is compliant when you book your appointment.
Complementary Services & Treatments
“My daughter had a wonderful with her first day of baby physiotherapy… [the] staff is nice and so very warm. I’m happy I found this place to carry my baby. And myself in the future. Highly recommend this place to anyone…. great experience and I enjoyed it immensely. Thank you for the wonderful time here.”
– Amber Faria
“Couldn’t be happier with my experience at West End Mamas. All the staff are excellent and so knowledgeable on all things related to pre and post-natal care. Would highly recommend!”
– Nancy Chu