All Articles in the Category ‘Toddler’

It’s Time For A Flu Shot

Why To Get A Flu Shot (Cliff Notes):

Influenza causes more hospitalizations than any other vaccine-preventable illness. It’s not just kids at risk for complications (asthmatics, diabetics, children with complex heart disease or immune problems) that die from the flu. Nearly 1/2 the children who died in this last year in the US were well, healthy children. PREVENT influenza, get a flu shot for all the members of your family. Although the flu vaccine dose is the same as last year, it’s recommended we all get a dose this season. For children who didn’t have a dose last year under the age of 9: they need 2 doses this year, separated by 1 month.

Links worth reviewing:

10 Things To Know About Influenza

Seasonal Influenza 2011-2012 from the AAP

Summary describing CDC data on complications and deaths from Influenza this past year

Flu Information from Seattle Childrens

ERRATA: I said that 46% of all children who died between Aug 2010 and Aug 2011 were healthy kids. The correct number is even higher: 49% of the 115 children who died in the US were healthy children without significant flu risks. My apologies.

We Can Engage With Grace?

Our kids teach us a lot about life. Doesn’t matter if they’re in-utero, a newborn, a toddler, or a teen. An obvious statement of course, but not only do our children teach us about their journey, they teach us about our own. Today it happened again, O taught me something. He reminded me about self. He reminded me about our need to be who we say we are and our need to perform at our best. When we don’t, it can unravel us.

It is our own disappointment in self that stings the most. I thought about this while reading Dr Atul Gawande’s recent New Yorker piece entitled Personal Best. To me, Dr Gawande’s courageous act of getting an expert coach exceeds his desire to better himself as a surgeon and beat the national averages on complications. He wants to stay true to himself; he wants ongoing improvement and escalating precision. He doesn’t want to let himself down. If we let others down, it feels absolutely terrible. When we let ourselves down by acting against our integrity or mission, it can feel far worse. Visceral. Two things converged on me today: Read full post »

Helicopter: You Betcha

The husband just took the training wheels off of F’s bike this morning. Mind you, F never really needed the training wheels as he’d already learned how to balance on two wheels with his “balance bike” as a toddler. But this morning, as sun cast gorgeous light over Seattle, we realized there were 2 days left of summer here in the Pacific Northwest. So, my dear husband proclaimed it was time.

Thing is, the training wheels have been on for me. I’m terrified of that bike. I worry about speed, my loss of control over major injuries and big falls for my little boy, and I worry about the greater transition to him biking off and away from home. Remember when he got the bike in July? Well, I admit it, I’m scared of it. And even though the training wheels never really govern F’s speed or his decisions, they have been a great security blanket for me.

Helicopter parent, you betcha.

I really don’t care what you call me. Okay, I do on some level, please be nice. But know I have distaste for the labeling of parenting “styles” and decision-making. Particularly when it enters the research world. I hated the media blitz earlier this month about the study describing the risks surrounding “helicopter parents” and obesity. I mean, come on. All this categorizing doesn’t really help us. I may be “helicopter” with this decision and then absent-minded-laissez-faire with another. You, too?

Please wish me luck. F doesn’t need the luck, of course; part of me knows he’ll do very well and make good decisions. We’re having our dry run, sans the 3rd and 4th wheel, around 5pm today.

What about you? Was it a no-brainer to shed the training wheels? Tell me your tips on how to make this better (for both of us).

I know as the boys get older the ante is only uped. Read this post by The Teen Doc where she talks about keeping your hands on your lap while watching the accident happen. Phew. Thank goodness I have 11 more years to prepare.


One Family Meal, A World Of Difference

Good Reads (Data) On Family Meals:

Correlations Between Family Meals and Teen Well-Being

Adolescent Risk and Mealtime Routines

Don’t have 100 or so seconds? Here’s the Cliff Notes on what I said:

Family meals matter. Not because of the fruits and veggies but because of the communication that occurs. Any meal can be a family meal (breakfast on Tuesday or supper on Sunday). Don’t think only about dinner. Aim for 100% of your family at these precious events, but I say anything over 50% will make a difference in not only your child’s, but also your life.


5 Things From My Online Sabbatical

There are 5 things I took with me from my online sabbatical in August. Know, however, I didn’t do as stellar of a job staying offline as I’d hoped and the 5 things are harder to hold onto than those numbers you see me grasping right there. I’d envisioned an entire month like the family photos: unplugged, disconnected, liberated, and focused. It wasn’t entirely like that. Clinic got nuts a few times, there were minutes I was still staring at my phone and hours every day I’d sit at the computer responding to emails, there were upsetting mega-tantrums from the boys and there were a few phone calls I fielded with bad news from friends. There were moments I felt inexplicably tired despite the uptick in sleep. All was not peace on earth.

Yet, let me be very clear: the month away was worth it. I learned a bit more about my relationship with technology, who I am as a person amidst 2011 information flow, and how I want my life as a parent and person to change.

Clearly, part of the experience of being a parent is housed in the soul.

You know this. Something happens the day you become a parent. Like a huge shift in your footing, that unexpected large wave washing out the sand where you stand, or how it feels in your toes when you try to gain traction running downhill. It happens without our control. The transition is very loud yet somehow its inaudible. It’s huge, unquestionably bigger than any anticipation and warning about having a child. Being a parent is greater than our own capacity to explain it thereafter. And it’s tactile, although you can’t really feel the transition to parenthood like you feel a touch on your skin on a warm day or the cold air when you walk out into a mid-January night. Rather, you feel it shift inside. Somewhere in an unidentified part of who we are that isn’t detailed in the anatomy textbooks. Becoming a parent is becoming more aware. My time away helped me see this. So, here are the lessons:

Read full post »

Fast-Paced Media And 4 Year-Olds: Cartoons On The Brain

A new study, along with an incredible editorial, was published today in Pediatrics about the effects of watching fast-paced cartoons on the attention and working memory of 4 year-olds. It’s basically a Spongebob versus Crayola versus Caillou show-down. At least it feels that way in the media summaries today. And thus, it’s bound to hit the front pages of every parent’s windshield. First and foremost, it’s a genius study for getting the word out and attracting media attention–media love to talk about media. Especially when it comes to the effects on children; all forms of media are looking for a viable option for longevity. There is just so much competition now.

Also, the study is interesting. Plain and simple, I couldn’t wait to read it. We watch Caillou around here and my husband and I like to dissect and ridicule it (in private)–everything from the outfits to the color scheme to the lessons. As a parent, it’s kind of painful to watch–its just so utterly wholesome and slow. On the flip side because of this goodness in the the content and pace, we feel less “guilty” letting the boys watch it. The result has been a win-win: the boys looooooove it–I mean, love it–and we pat ourselves on the back for the choice. Good media is far better than bad media, we think. Fortunately, the data backs up our instinct. And this helps with our mommy-daddy-guilt. We’re a really low media viewing house, but not the lowest. We have friends whose children don’t see a screen for months at a time. Read full post »

Can We Prioritize Sleep?

I wonder, can we prioritize sleep? I mean this sincerely. Can we really value it? Sleep is one of the essential parts of being human yet unlike some of the other essential things (think food, exercise, oxygen, or shelter) no one seems to give us credit when we sleep. Come about age 11, kids start to be praised for their achievements more than their skills in self-preservation.

Like most busy moms, I speak from an experienced place–I’m up early today after going to bed late last night. With the dog awakening us with vomiting at 2:30am, I clocked in under 6 hours of sleep when the alarm clock broke the silence this morning. Clearly it is our own responsibility to find ways to prioritize sleep. No one will do it for us. So, how we both model sleep and also advise our children as they grow matters. It is well understood that sleep deprivation isn’t good for us. It’s not good for our performance, our driving, our friendships, our mood, or even our waistlines.

In clinic, I ask teenagers what time they go to bed. I ask them if they sleep with their phones, if they wake up to an alarm, and how easy it is to fall asleep. I ask parents and I ask about the little ones, too. But it’s the teens (and parents) I worry about most. Those little 6-month-old-midnight-screamers, they’ll figure it out. The over-subscribed-stressed-out high-(or-low)-achieving teens? They need a little time on this…A study published this month only confirms my concern. Read full post »

Varicella Vaccine: It Works

I don’t diagnose Chickenpox often. I’ve seen patients with Chickenpox only a handful of times since I started medical school in 1998. Auspiciously, there simply haven’t been many children to serve as my teachers. Varicella virus causes Chickenpox and there’s a vaccine for that. So, like Smallpox or Polio, I’ve been forced to learn a lot about Chickenpox in textbooks. My strongest professor in the Chickenpox department is my own memory; I had Varicella between the age of 5 and 6 years. It was the one week of my childhood where I remember being really babied– my mom gave me a small gift or craft every day while I was home from school. I got to watch TV on the couch. I must have looked pretty awful…But it wasn’t so bad and I was lucky. I was a healthy 5 year old girl who had a case of chicken pox that was “run of the mill”: lots of spots, lots of itching, a week of fever and feeling crummy. Then poof, I scabbed over and got better. The only remaining trace (besides the virus that may live in my nerves) is the scar on my L forehead. You seen it?

The big trouble with Chickenpox is you can’t predict which child will have a serious complication (a brain infection, an overgrowth of flesh eating bacteria in the sores, or a life-threatening pneumonia).

While I was finishing up college, the Varicella vaccination was introduced into the United States. At that time, over 150 people died every year from Chickenpox and over 11,000 people were hospitalized annually. This created a huge economic toll (from missed work to health care costs).

So my apparent lack of clinical opportunity with Chickenpox reflects reality. A study published this week found that over the last 12 years there has been a 97% reduction in deaths from Chickenpox in children and adolescents younger than 20 years of age. There’s been an 88% reduction of Chickenpox deaths over all (kids plus adults). These are staggering statistics. Read full post »

Protecting Infants From The Sun: Seattle Mama Doc 101

Here’s why to avoid sunscreen for babies under 6 months (when you can) and ways to protect babies from the sun.

For more on protecting your baby and children from the sun read:

First Movie With My 4 Year Old

I’ve had media on my mind lately. And Finn McMissile, I’ve got my eye on you.

We took F (age 4 1/2 years) to his first movie about a month ago. It is something we’ve been talking about for over a year. He’d built up a sense of anticipation that we could have bottled. F is a focused boy. The only movie he has chosen to watch from start to finish his entire life is the original Cars. So with the news of Cars 2 coming to the big screen, we plotted our first big family trip to the cinema. F lost sleep with anticipation. He studied (and slept with) the New York Times synopsis. The NYT review, we didn’t share with him…

What age did you first take your child to a movie? Did you go because of a certain film or because the timing was right?

I’m asking because I think although there is no perfect answer (3, 4, 5, or 6), I wish our first movie had gone better. All in all, our experience was a great success in the eyes of my son, but Pixar let me down. As did Finn McMissile.

McMissile, why the unnecessary ammo? Read full post »