Readers of my 411 book series often send me questions about parenting or children/baby health. These are issues we are regularly asked about at 411 Pediatrics so I share a handful here in hopes that the advice might help you, too!
Please help! My toddler is 16 months and she’s very vocal meaning her favorite thing to do these days is scream at the top of her lungs for no apparent reason at all. Telling her “no” firmly just seems to encourage her to continue to scream. Ignoring her doesn’t seem to work either. Is this just a phase? Or is there something that my husband and I should be doing to try and rectify the issue? I have no problem with her talking and being vocal – but the ear piercing screaming is a lot to handle and we can’t seem to get her to kick the habit.
The screaming is annoying, but it’s normal. She gets attention by screaming…so she continues to do it. The biggest mistake parents’ make about discipline is that they expect instant gratification. Just remember this: you are planting the seeds of discipline. Do not expect a tree to grow overnight. With that said the best response is no response. She learns that screaming does NOT get your attention at all. She will test you numerous times to be sure that you really don’t pay attention to her—but if you’re consistent she will eventually stop. In the meantime, noise-canceling headphones might make a nice gift for you. Good luck!
Ari Brown, MD
Playtex is recalling 1.4 million pacifier holders because of concern that a small child could choke if a part of the clip were to break off. Message to consumers: Consumers should stop using this product unless otherwise instructed.
Recall date: JANUARY 22, 2014
Recall number: 14-084
Name of product: Playtex pacifier holder clips
Hazard: The pacifier holder clips can crack and a small part can break off which poses a choking hazard to small
Consumer Contact: Playtex toll-free at (888) 220-2075 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or online at www.playtexproducts.com and click on Recall for more information.
Click here to see the recall announcement on the Consumer Product Safety Commission website. Playtex is recalling 1.4 million pacifier holders because of concern that a small child could choke if a part of the clip were to break off. Message to consumers: Consumers should stop using this product unless otherwise instructed
Colic is miserable. The excessive and inconsolable crying is a source of anxiety and stress for parents and is one of the more common baby issues that we see at 411 Pediatrics.
As parents, we want to do anything to console our babies. Yet, despite many years of research, the million dollar question still remains…what causes colic?. A number of studies have looked at various therapies and the most promising is one I’ve covered in Baby 411…probiotics.
The latest study, recently published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, lends further credibility to this potential treatment. It shows that infants given probiotics during the first three months of life appear to have fewer bouts of colic, acid reflux and constipation.
How Do Probiotics Work?
Probiotics are the good germs in your body that help improve intestinal function. Babies are born germ-free then acquire good germs in the gut to help digest food. One of the most common probiotic bacteria is Lactobacillus, which is found in yogurt and was the bacteria given to infants in this study. The theory is that by introducing ‘healthy’ bacteria, balance is improved in the gut and the gastrointestinal issue causing the incessant crying (colic) is reduced.
The product I recommend in my practice is a powder form of Lactobacillus Reuteri from Nature’s Way. The dose is a half-teaspoon a day, immersed in a few drops of water (or mixed in expressed breast milk or formula). If you decide to try probiotics as a colic remedy, speak to your pediatrician.
More research still needs to be done, but probiotics are certainly a less expensive alternative than purchasing noise cancelling headphones for managing your sanity.
Ari Brown, MD
A reader of the 411 book series I co-author sent me a question about how to get her newborn to sleep in the crib. I get this question a lot from 411 Pediatrics families—the sleep deprivation and crying is a hard time. I thought I’d share the question and response here in hopes that it might address some of your issues.
I just finished Baby 411 and loved it, but I have a question. My 5-week-old little girl wants to be held all the time. She refuses to sleep in her crib, waking up almost immediately every time she gets put down there. She will usually sleep pretty well in either her swing or her bouncy seat, but I really want her to sleep in the crib. At the moment she is sleeping at night with me and my husband and we are fine with that arrangement for now, but we are approaching the limit of being ok with that. What should we do to make her not need to be held all the time and to make her be ok with sleeping in her crib?
Thanks for writing in. Newborns have no self-soothing skills. They are born with the ability to suck, which is soothing, and they enjoy being snug—because that is like the womb. As their brain and nervous system mature, they gain the ability to self-soothe, but that is around 4-6 months of age. So, until 3-4 months, parents need to do what they gotta do to get their babies to settle down. In other words, you have lots of rocking, walking around, humming, bouncing, and going for car rides at 3 am. (Don’t worry, it does get better!!)
As for sleep location, as long as it is a safe place and position, it is fine. Most babies under 3 months of age do NOT like to be in a crib. It is a very big place (unlike the womb). That’s why most parents opt for a bassinet or a co-sleeper for their newborns. They also swaddle or use a Miracle Blanket type of device to keep baby safe and snug. We do not advise having a baby under 1 year of age in a parents bed because of the risk of SIDS. Co-sleepers allow the baby to be right next to mom and dad, but in a safe sleep space.
Know that whatever sleep space you use right now and whatever methods work to get her to settle are NOT setting up permanently bad sleep habits. Re-read the sleep chapter about setting up healthy sleep habits and know the magic window to begin positive sleep associations begins around 3 months–you have plenty of time before then with a 5 week old.
Ari Brown, MD
Last week I was interviewed by MedPage Today about a study that found many pediatricians weren’t engaging in “the talk” with their pre-teen patients.
I’m not surprised.
Discussing the birds and the bees is a sensitive matter for the parent and teenager. And setting the tone for a successful talk (trust is key!) can often take time which we (pediatricians) often don’t have much of during wellness visits. However, there are ways to make it successful. Here are three tips to think about before arranging your pre-teen’s next visit with the pediatrician.
If your pediatrician doesn’t bring it up, you should.Before the visit, voice your concerns about your teen’s sexual activity or risky behavior with your pediatrician.
Honor the privacy of your pre-teen and the doctor. You shouldn’t be in the room for their discussion nor should you pester your child about what was shared. This would negate the trust you’re trying to establish with your doctor and teenager.
If your pre-teen is tight lipped, , find an alternate communication method. Does your pediatrician’s practice offer email or phone consultation? Many kids are uncomfortable discussing sex in a face-to-face meeting with their doctor. Finding a compromise that might help your child to open up.
Don’t forget to set the tone early. It’s important to let your pre-teens know that they can rely on their doctors, that they can speak to them in confidence, that we can offer advice and education, and, if necessary, treatment.
Ari Brown, MD
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