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Constipation during infancy

As a pediatric surgeon with a special interest in intestinal issues, I am often contacted by worried parents regarding their baby's infrequent bowel movements. This can be caused by a variety of
problems such as blockages of the intestines or abnormal intestinal function (including a condition called Hirschsprung's disease); but most frequently babies are just efficiently absorbing and thus not needing to poop very often. This is especially true for breastfed babies. So, how can a parent tell the difference?

I would offer the following "red flags" as issues that may indicate a problem needing further medical evaluation:

Vomiting in the newborn: when is spit-up something to worry about?

I have never met a baby that didn't on occasion spit-up. Many perfectly healthy babies can even spit-up quite a bit. Reflux is often the label given to babies who vomit, and this rarely amounts to a significant problem.

However, there are a few things that a parent should watch out for:

The most important thing is the color of what a baby is throwing up. Dark yellow and especially green vomit is never normal in a baby and demands immediate medical evaluation as this could represent a dangerous twisting of the intestines (midgut volvulus), which is linked to abnormally positioned intestines (intestinal malrotation).

Another consideration is quantity. If a baby is throwing up...

The Practice Argument

 Practice, practice, practice...all kids are involved in something they have to practice. They all practice spelling and math equations. They might practice their soccer drills, or their cello. The old saying “practice makes perfect” is true.

So, did you know that arguing with your kids is also practice? Practice for what? What possible good could come from arguing? Just like any other skill, when you argue with your kids you’re developing their ability to stand up for themselves. This is crucial in standing up to peer pressure and bullies.

No one person is right 100% of the time, including parents, but parents often don’t want to admit when they’re wrong. When our kids make mistakes, and we tell them 'it’s okay, everyone makes mistakes' and yet, some parents refuse to admit when they make mistakes. Is it a matter of pride, or do we believe that if we admit we made a mistake that it will appear as though we’re weak?

Time Flies (Just Breathe)

It’s already February?! If you’re feeling stressed with 2012 passing so quickly, re-visiting this post on stress & the importance of breathing might help (originally posted on Parentelligence here). 

It’s no secret that we’re all just a little stressed these days. Between the economy and information overload on the internet, we have all sorts of things to worry about nowadays. Stress and anxiety can cause physical pain, emotional strain, and strain in your relationships. When you’re stressed, your body is secreting hormones that put you into that ‘fight or flight’ state. Long term, this state will wear on your body.

Our children pick up on our heightened state and become stressed and anxious, too.This is not a good state for children to thrive in. We learn best when we’re comfortable and relaxed, not if we’re nervous and anxious.

Parents need to learn how to regulate their own stress so that we may help our children learn the same coping techniques.

Tips to regulate stress in the immediate moment:

Paging Dr. Google

You may have decided to create family resolutions, or have a personal new year’s resolution. But, as parents our biggest resolution is to do our best to take the best possible care of our children.

One of the more nerve wracking moments is when a child develops a cough, rash, or earache. We don’t want to overreact and rush to the doctor, but what if it’s serious? How do you know? Unfortunately, a lot of parents turn to Google to find out. While searching online may result in some helpful information, it can also be uber-scary because you can find all these unique, rare, serious possibilities.

In my job in community education, I run into several people a week who have Google-diagnosed their health concerns. They might be right but they are often looking at some of the remotest of possible conditions. There are good resources online for searching for health information.

Family Resolutions

It's a new year - have you ever wondered how to incorporate resolutions into family life?

Yes, parents are pressed for time, but remember we have strength in numbers. Family is our strength and our motivation. In Franklin Covey’s book titled 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families, is a suggestion for creating a family mission statement. This is where each family member helps create a mission statement for the whole family. We add things in that are most important and beneficial for the family as a whole. It gets written up and framed on the fridge or hung in a prominent place. Because each member of the family had input and a say in what the mission statement represents, they all have a stake in it. This mission statement brings the family together to work for a common goal.

The same can be said for New Year’s Resolutions. I have heard more than once that New Year’s Resolutions can be hard to stick to be cause we’re still in the dead of winter with short, cold, rainy days. That makes it difficult to start anew.

However, creating Family Resolutions just might have an extra edge for succeeding. We have that wonderful built-in support system.

Here’s what to do:

How important is 'tying one on'?

New Year’s Day is a day of celebration. A day for starting anew. We create resolutions to become help us be steadfast in reaching personal goals whether that’s to lose weight or stop smoking, or just be on time to work. We have a happy, fresh outlook on a new year.

But, there is a lurking danger following all those midnight celebrations. There is an increase in infant deaths on New Year’s Day. A 33% increase in infant deaths, in fact.

There is not a clear reason for these deaths. They are probably not all SIDS deaths since SIDS is a diagnosis of exclusion

The bottom line is parents of infants must make good decisions and safe arrangements for their infant before they decide to celebrate the new year....

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