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7 Happiness Tips for New Parents

I will be expecting my first child in a few short weeks.  I am of course beyond excited to meet my baby!  But, as the due date is approaching, I have fears that have been popping up, too.  Will I be a good parent?   Will I be able to breastfeed?  Did I get the right car seat?  Do I have enough clothes?  Do I need a wipe warmer?  And, the list goes on and on…  Yes, I am a pediatrician, so I do know a thing or two about caring for babies, but there are a lot of things you do not learn in medical school.  I did not get any training on how to be a parent (does anyone?).  So, I can fully empathize with expecting parents!

Throughout the course of my pregnancy I have gotten a lot of advice.  I appreciate experienced families sharing with me tidbits about being a parent.  I find those that have already gone through being “new parents” are a great resource.  I will also say that it can be difficult at times to sift through all the advice in books, blogs, and even from friends and family.  I came across this short little piece that shares a few tips to being a happy parent, written by a pediatrician.  Most seem like common sense.  I am sure that at some point when I am sleep deprived and doing a 3 AM feeding, I will want to remind myself of these tips.   I feel some of the advice may also still hold true for seasoned parents.  I hope you find them helpful!  We all want to be good parents.

  1. Trust Yourself.

Some new parents get emotional whiplash flipping between feeling like you’ve got the job nailed…and feeling like a rookie.  But, you know what?  You are the newest, shiniest link in an unbroken chain of successful parents that stretches back to the beginning of time!   Things may actually get much stickier later on (fears, unfair friends, teen traumas, etc.).   But, for now, you will be a total success if you just keep to the basics:  love, touch, singing, milk and patience.

  1. Be Kind…to Yourself.

If you’re like many new parents, you’ve barely ever maybe even touched a newborn – before you had your own – yet you think you should automatically be a baby care pro.  Please, ask that “judge” in your head to take a hike.  Be as supportive to yourself as you would be to your best friend or significant other.  That’s a sure path to great satisfaction and happiness.

  1. Accept All the Help you Can Get.

Never before in history have moms and dads been expected to care for their newborns…all alone.  When parents are working, you may even be more pressed.  So don’t hesitate to ask or pay for help if you are able.  Lean on family and friends for support and most people genuinely want to help.  Who doesn’t love babies?  You’ll get more sleep and enjoy your beautiful growing family more fully

  1. Be Flexible.

You will naturally find that some parenting philosophies will make more sense than others.  It is great to have ideas and plans, but our children are here to challenge all of our preconceived expectations.  Stay flexible, especially when things aren’t going as planned (as that will happen!).  You may be surprised how “just rolling with it” can keep your mood going.

  1. Keep Your Sense of Humor Handy.

Remember, perfection is only found in the dictionary.  So, forget dignity, forget organization, be gentle with yourself, and laugh, laugh, laugh!  Laughter raises your spirits and lowers your stress!

  1. Take Care of Each Other. And Do Some Fun Stuff!

Caring for your baby is only half your job; the other is giving your significant other some TLC.

A Few Words…and Tips on Fire Prevention and Safety

We remain stunned by the loss and devastation wrought by wild fires so recently in East Tennessee. Whether directly or indirectly, these fires have affected us all.  I still can’t fathom the horror encountered by those attempting to escape the sudden, onrushing flames, and the sadness felt for those unfortunate enough not to escape. These fires have been a tragic event. As always, though, such tragedies also highlight the strength and resilience of so many in our communities: the bravery of the firefighters and emergency personnel and the outpouring of donations and volunteers continue to inspire.   It is both sad and wonderful that such a terrible event brings out the best in us.

As these fires pass, I suspect you – and even your children – have talked more about fire prevention and fire safety. In addition, as we enter the winter months, the risk of home fires increases.  Consequently, I thought it might be timely to pass along some tips and reminders about home fire safety for parents.

Prevention and monitoring are the first steps. Educating our children on fire risks is crucial. Monitoring with smoke and carbon dioxide detectors can save lives. (Remember to change batteries every 6 to 12 months on smoke detectors.) Developing a fire evacuation plan in your home with a central meeting place can help avert the confusion and panic that occurs when fire strikes our home.

Here are several websites information on fire safety. The first two are intended for parents, and the final three are more interactive for children.

1) This is a helpful website with numerous safety tip sheets on a wid variety of issues on fires safety.

http://www.nfpa.org/public-education/resources/safety-tip-sheets

2) This website also has safety tip sheets.

http://www.redcross.org/get-help/prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/fire

3) This is a YouTube video with animation and music to help educate on fire safety.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WiIGMWRKfQI&t=101s

4) This website has fire education with coloring sheets and games.

http://firesafekids.org/science.html

5) This is a website with videos and music to help educate children of various ages

http://sparkyschoolhouse.org/ – video-modal

 

 

Cold Weather Safety

 

With winter approaching, here are some cold weather safety tips.  Dressing children and infants in several thin layers is best. Dress them in one more layer than an adult would wear in the same conditions, and make sure to provide a hat, gloves. and warm boots. When playing outside, have children come back inside periodically to warm up. Blankets, quilts, and pillows should be kept away from an infant’s sleeping environment due to the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Sleep clothing like one-piece sleepers are preferable. For more tips and information...

 

 

How Much Sugar is Appropriate for Your Child?

Have you ever wondered how much sugar is appropriate for your child? A recent study by the American Heart Association entitled Added Sugars and Cardiovascular Disease Risk in Children,  published in the journal Circulation attempts to give guidance on this very issue.  The guidelines make a distinction between “Added Sugars,” which are sugars added to a food to increase palatability, and “Naturally Occurring Sugars,” which are an innate part of a food such as fruit.  The authors’ recommendations are as follows:

  1. Children should not drink more than 8oz of sugar sweetened beverages/week.
  2. Children/Adolescents should consume < 25grams (approximately 6 teaspoons) of  added sugars/day.
  3. Added sugars should be avoided in children < 2 years old.

“Added sugars” is one of the new categories to be included on the Updated Nutrition Facts Label promised by the FDA. Most manufacturers must comply to the new label by July 2018.

 

http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/early/2016/08/22/CIR.0000000000000439
http://www.fda.gov/food/guidanceregulation/guidancedocumentsregulatoryinformation/labelingnutrition/ucm385663.htm

 

Overuse Injuries

Each year, many children and adolescents suffer sports-related injuries.  While most sports injuries are acute, it is estimated that over half of all injuries are a result of overuse.  An overuse injury is an injury sustained after repeated use.  It occurs as a result of repetitive trauma to a bone, ligament, or tendon without allowing adequate time for healing.  Overuse injuries may be difficult to recognize because the symptoms can be subtle and can occur over a period of time.  Some common examples include Little League elbow, jumper’s knee, swimmer’s shoulder, and tennis elbow.  Young athletes can be at increased risk of developing overuse injuries because they are skeletally immature.  There are several other factors that may lead to these injuries including improper training and faulty mechanics.  Some experts have suggested that sports specialization may also play a role in the development of overuse injuries.

A pre-participation physical may detect injuries or identify risk factors for developing overuse injuries.  Participating in appropriate training and practicing proper mechanics can also help prevent injuries.  It may be beneficial for young athletes to cross train and to play different sports throughout the year in order to avoid placing too much stress on one bone or muscle group.  If a child or adolescent develops pain or discomfort with exercise, he or she should decrease the frequency or duration of exercise and rest.  If symptoms persist, the athlete should consult with his or her pediatrician.