Jeanette Petrus Le Renard: Baby Steps

By Dalina Michaels   |   November 1, 2022
Jeanette Petrus Le Renard is a pediatric physical therapist who specializes in early intervention with babies with developmental delays

Jeanette Petrus Le Renard gets to play every day with her clients, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I work with babies on their level – and their parents as well. My goal is to meet them where they are and help them get where they need to be!”

As a pediatric physical therapist who specializes in early intervention, Le Renard is helping the parents as much as the babies. “My clients are between one month and three years old. My job is to help identify developmental delays and work with a team to address them.”

What makes her job even more special is the way she meets families – wherever they are. “We don’t work in a sterile office environment. We want the kids to feel comfortable, so I see them in their natural settings. Sometimes I meet a family at the park, or the beach, or just in their living room. The more natural and comfortable the setting, the easier it is to blend the physical therapy into their daily routines.”

Le Renard recently got her doctorate in physical therapy in pediatric science, but she is not the only doctor in her house. Her husband, Christophe, is the Chief Medical Information Officer for Cottage Health and works part-time as a pediatric hospitalist. They have two kids who attend Riviera Ridge, Charlie (13) and Alex (10).

“I love working with families as it is really the parents and caregivers who know their kids best and who can help make the most progress.”

Le Renard shares, “During a typical workday, I may be at a quiet family home coaching parents on tummy time for a three-month-old. Later, I will be at a preschool teaching a caregiver how to encourage a one-year-old to take steps, and then we will be at the beach running in and out of the water on the uneven sand with an almost three-year-old. Lots of purposeful play and setting up of the environment to help children develop the skills they need to move.”

Le Renard says that she hopes to teach parents different skills and give them tools so they can incorporate physical therapy in a way that makes sense in their daily lives. “One time, we were trying to do tummy time on the floor to work on strengthening the baby’s muscles. The baby didn’t want to let go of her dad, so we practiced tummy time on his chest. That way, she got to be close to the father while also getting in the therapy needed to strengthen the neck and arms.”

Le Renard and her family taking some time off

Le Renard also knows that parents are the best advocates for their kids. “We have so many resources in this town, but often parents don’t know what is out there. I always say it helps to be a squeaky wheel – but a nice one! You can reach out to your doctor or Tri-Counties Regional Center to advocate for your child if you think there is something more that needs to be done.”

Her path into physical therapy for infants has come full circle. “At the beginning of my career, I worked with all age groups and in many different settings. While I enjoyed it all, nothing quite compares to watching a child grow, learn, and thrive. I truly believe in early intervention and have seen it change the lives of so many children and families.”

One of the biggest challenges is identifying children in need of early intervention services and hoping they get referred to professionals as early as possible. The earlier a child can begin receiving services, the better the outcomes.

Le Renard offers her advice: “If a parent or caregiver is concerned about the development of a child, they should mention it to their pediatrician, who can make a referral to Tri-Counties Regional Center. Evaluations and services are at no cost if a child qualifies.

She also has a good reminder for parents with kids of any age. “I had a two-year-old one time who was just waking up from a nap when I came to work with her. She was fussy and it was obvious she needed to eat and take a minute. I have found if you can give kids that balance – they will be more willing and engaging, rather than trying to rush them to doing something they aren’t ready for.”

So, at the end of a long week, what is Le Renard’s favorite way to wind down? “I love when my husband barbecues. My dream day would be to watch our kids play sports, then grab fresh fish from the pier or Santa Barbara Fish Market and cook it up on the grill!”

Because most of her work is with referrals, Le Renard says the best way for parents to reach her is via the Child Development Network or call (805) 350-2086.


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