Seattle Mama Doc

A blog by Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson.

A mom, a pediatrician, and her insights about keeping your kids healthy.

A View Into Driving With Grandma

Grandma shouldn’t get such a bad rap. A study published this week found that kids were safer riding in a car with a grandparent behind the wheel than with Mom or Dad. Researchers evaluated data from crashes that occurred between Jan 2003 to November 2007. What they found defies my intuition: children were injured less with a grandparent-driver than with a parent-driver. The why behind the surprising finding may be harder to elucidate than the data itself. Researchers reviewed data collected on over 11,000 children involved in crashes with either a parent or a grandparent behind the wheel. Here’s what these prominent safety researchers found:

  • Children involved in crashes were driven by grandparents nearly 10% (9.5%) of the time. Yet those crashes resulted in only 6.6% of the injuries. Read full post »

Seattle Mama Doc 101: Teething and Fever

My take on teething & fever in the above video. What is your baby’s favorite thing to chew on? Do you have any advice for parents with teething babies?

And, do you disagree with the data–do you think your baby has/had fever from teething?

More information on FDA recalls:

Potty Training: Reward Chart Glory

Maaaaaaajor milestone in our house today. O filled up his first reward chart for potting training. Even bigger, last night just before he went to bed, O and I discussed that he only had two spaces left on the chart. Once filled, he gets a special trip to the toy store. Although seemingly unclear about the rules and benefits of the chart last night, he told me he would wait until morning to pee.

Thing is, he did.

He awoke with a dry diaper. We felt like lottery winners! O went to the bathroom, peed in the toilet, and then came to find me this morning. His 4 1/2 year old brother did the reporting:

“O peed much more than we thought he could this morning, Mommy.”

I was astonished. I went to the toilet to see the evidence. Dark yellow bowl of pee. Immense pride….I think my heart pushed out a double-beat. Read full post »

A Single Moment

Consider this an intermission. A moment where I have no wisdom to share, no knowledge or research I’m compelled to report, and no breaking news I feel I have to detail. This is a day where those words don’t come easily for me and thus I’ll give you a brief intermission. The reason? I’ve heard terrible news today about children going missing, children who have been hurt and children who have been killed. It’s left me a bit breathless. I’ve found myself unable to finish 5 posts that I’ve started. This past weekend I flew out to Minnesota for a 24 hour visit to support a dear friend who just lost her father. It’s Wednesday now and I’m still a bit consumed by it. And more, I’ve been sick for the last 7 days, feeling fairly miserable. As I wring myself out and attempt to stand back up after a long week for me personally, I acknowledge this: often we lack control of all that we’d like. Everything from our own health, our family’s health, the safety and vulnerability of our friends and loved ones, and even our own future.

Yet the saving grace can be that our lives can feel entirely whole in a single moment. A single moment of simplicity amidst a slanted sun. The bare bones moments away from technology and away from a clock– those moment surrounded by those we love. Those moments that define and then refine who and what we cherish most. Read full post »

Seattle Mama Doc 101: 3 Month Developmental Milestones


For more information:

Please leave additional topic ideas and suggestions for the Seattle Mama Doc video series as comments at Seattle Mama Doc 101: Introduction.

Thrilled To Be in Primary Care

Being a primary care doctor is an utter privilege. Think of this post as part proclamation and part journal entry.

Yesterday afternoon I sent out this tweet:

It was a spontaneous tweet in the middle of my 15 minute “lunch break” when I realized I still had hours to go in my clinical day. The motive was incredulity, not remorse or a need for pity. I was in a good spot–my frame of mind and perspective sharpened twice this week.

First, I’d had a discussion with clinic  leaders where we noodled around the upcoming fall where I will be traveling heavily and unfortunately away from clinic. We were discussing how to meet the needs of my patients while simultaneously meeting my need to contribute nationally. I reminded them how I’m unwavering in my adoration for my panel of patients and my commitment to caring for them. They nodded. You see, they know….. Read full post »

New Bike


Wonder all mixed up with dread, F got a new bike over the holiday weekend. Great trepidation spun into sincere pride, it’s been a big step. For me. For F, it’s just another joy, another leap into the chapters of requisite or quintessential childhood. To F, I think this feels fresh and cool like dipping his toes into a new stream. Although I’ve seen fear in his eyes for small moments while on the bike, most of the time his face is lit with exhilaration. When he’s spinning his pedals it really looks as if he feels he’s flying. And allowing those wings to unfold is the privilege and pleasure of parenting. It’s just that:

Read full post »

Seattle Mama Doc 101: One Step to Remove Toxins from your Home

Thank you reader Max for your question on facebook: “Environmental and food toxins. What should we be most vigilant about? Where can we be most effective in protecting our kids?”

Here is one thing you can start immediately to reduce environmental toxin exposure in your home. Many more tips to come.

Environmental Working Group’s “Healthy Home Tips for Parents”‘

EPA’s Ten Tips to Protect Children from Chemical and Lead Poisoning”

Please leave additional topic ideas and suggestions for the Seattle Mama Doc video series as comments at Seattle Mama Doc 101: Introduction.

Speak Up, Share Your Values About The Vaccine Schedule

Ever wonder how the CDC makes the vaccine schedule? For example, how they decide when to start a dosing series (at birth versus a year of age versus age 11) or why pediatricians and other clinicians recommend the number of shots that we do?

Ever want to let them know your thoughts about how the schedule feels to you and what values you feel should contribute to changes?

This is your moment. For real. Read full post »

If It Were My Child: No Television In The Bedroom

This morning as I was getting ready for the day, my 2 1/2 year old was watching Sesame Street. In the show, the segments change every few minutes or so and seem to weave old-school 1970’s content (familiar to me) with newly created vignettes that have a modern feel and construction. I like it nearly as much as the boys. One of the stories this morning was about tooth fairies. An animated group of fairies were detailing how they got to the tooth under a child’s pillow (lifting up the child) to replace it with a golden coin. Mind you, I was coming and going from the room and didn’t view the whole story. However at one point, the fairies accidentally turn on the child’s TV and worry it might wake the child, ultimately uncovering their work and secret magic.

A TV in the child’s bedroom? No way, Sesame. Read full post »