teething childToothache pain can make you miserable, and there’s nothing worse than seeing your little one suffer because of teething. Pointy, sharp teeth poking through gums of your child is certainly going to cause discomfort! Luckily there are various things you can do to ease the suffering, helping your child during this time. Some remedies, like putting a child’s feeding spoon in the refrigerator to chill it off prior to feeding time, will make teething a better experience for your baby and your entire family.

Teething rings. Many babies love using teething rings, and parents sometimes need to figure out which ones seem to work the best depending on their baby’s preference. Teething rings can be chilled in the refrigerator and placed on the gums to help ease the pain. Most babies like to “chew” on the teething ring, alleviating pain on the surface of their gums. Some teething rings are textured and some or not, while some babies prefer the feel of a cold washcloth on their gums instead. You’ll just have to see which method is best for your little one.

There are even newer, creative solutions for moms of teething babes! Specially designed teething jewelry like Teething Bling from Smart Mom Jewelry is made to be gummed by little ones. Made from FDA-approved silicone that is free of phthalates, BPA, PVC, latex and lead. Learn more at smartmomjewelry.com.

Gum massage. Parents, your clean finger, love and patience can also help ease your child’s pain! Gentle counter pressure from a parent or caregiver’s cleanly washed finger being applied to a baby’s sore gums can ease the pain of teething. This method works in a pinch if you’ve left the teething rings at home and find yourself out and about with an upset teething baby.

Breastfeeding. There are many benefits to breastfeeding, and teething pain relief is yet one more! You may find your baby is wanting to nurse more often now that he/she is teething because it gives them comfort. However, it’s important to note that every baby teethes in a way that is unique, and in some cases breastfeeding may cause irritation. If you find that during teething your baby is on a “nursing strike”, talk to one of us at Association of Childcare Physicians for assistance. One recommended tip is to use the massaging gum technique as stated above prior to feeding. This simple trick can help your child to continue on a healthy, breastfeeding path.

Over the Counter (OTC) Pain Relief. It’s important to talk to your pediatrician prior to using any pain relief medication, but it may be a viable option. If your child is an early teether, a doctor approval should be given for acetaminophen in babies less than 3 months of age and ibuprofen in babies less than 6 months of age. Some patients find that a dose of infant pain medication, especially in the middle of yet another sleepless night, is very beneficial. Make sure you read all labeling carefully. Another benefit of using a pain reliever is that it also helps to reduce any fever that may accompany teething. It can help make your child more comfortable and definitely less irritable.

Other natural solutions, including teething gels. Baby Orajel Naturals, for example, is free of benzocaine, alcohol and dyes and is a natural alternative to OTC meds. The active ingredient in Baby Orajel Naturals is eugenol, which is derived from the oil of the clove plant and is known for its antiseptic and local anesthetic properties. Ask a member of the Association of Childcare Physician’s team if you need more remedies or have a question about a solution for your baby’s teething needs. Sometimes simply a change of scenery for your baby – a distraction like singing, playing or a warm bath – can help ease the pain while building fond memories, too.

Luckily, teething pain isn’t constant in babies and there are many options to help ease their discomfort when it happens. If you notice more pain than usual, or if he/she refuses to eat and drink more than just a couple of hours, don’t hesitate to give us a call. If it’s time for a visit or check-up, contact Dr. Shaw or Dr. Kellow at 618-235-2311 or visit http://childcarephysicians.com to schedule an appointment. We look forward to seeing you!

Homemade Baby FoodAs new parents, we want to do what’s best for our baby. Creating a healthy, safe haven for our newborn takes precedence over all else, and once baby is old enough to have solid foods (around 4-6 months), parents begin to discuss if the store bought option or homemade baby food is best for their child. The good news is there are many healthy choices available today, including organic options at the grocery store and recipes available online for making your own baby food. Here’s an overview of some reasons why parents may prefer one baby food option over the other.

When to start solid foods

If your baby is around the age of 4 months, can sit up well with support, and shows interest in the foods he sees the family eating, it’s probably a good time to introduce solid food. Another indicator is your baby should be able to move food to the back of his mouth and swallow it, instead of using the tongue to push food out of the mouth. If your baby is exclusively breastfed, it is recommended that you wait until he is 6 months to start solids. As always, please ask any of the medical professionals at our office if you have questions or concerns about the proper time to introduce solid foods.

Benefits

The benefits of homemade baby food are many. As parents, we want to know what’s in the food we are feeding our little ones. When you make your own baby food, you know exactly what’s in it! Also, many of the pre-packaged baby foods come in only 1-2 variations. When you make your own food, you can get creative with the food that you choose to puree and blend together. This gives your child more variations, hopefully creating a more adventurous eater as they age. One of the main reasons parents like to make their own baby food? From the start, your baby can begin eating the same food as the rest of the family but just in a mashed form.

Advocates of homemade baby food also believe that it’s more cost-effective, although parents with busy schedules may believe the opposite is true. Homemade baby food doesn’t have as long of a shelf life, so it’s important that parents refrigerate or freeze the baby food to make it last longer. Store bought baby food doesn’t require refrigeration until after it’s opened. Jarred baby food is cooked at higher temperatures to kill any bacteria for that longer storage time, but advocates of homemade food don’t like the idea that the high temps also remove some of those healthy vitamins and nutrients.

There are numerous online resources for baby food recipes and many require a simple food processor. Moms and dads alike can make various batches at a time using different fruits and veggies, making a month worth of food in advance and then storing it properly. Online websites like Cooking Light, Parents, and Parenting all offer baby food recipes for parents wanting to try the homemade baby food route. When making homemade baby food for your little one, it starts them on the path of enjoying healthy meals as he or she grows.

Disadvantages

Although it’ll be hard to find parents completely against the idea and benefits involved in baby food that’s homemade, some parents simply do not have the time it takes to make and prepare a lot of smaller servings for their baby. If there’s not enough time in the day, it may not make sense to make baby food in the little “free time” you have. For example, if you are working full time and only get a chance to spend quality time with your baby on weekends and in the evenings, do you really want to be in the kitchen making baby food for hours instead of playing and snuggling as a family?

Pre-packaged baby foods are available in measured amounts and ready to serve portions, making store bought a more convenient option. As mentioned previously, homemade baby food can spoil more quickly and requires proper storage. Experts say that today’s baby food is very pure to begin with, and if making your own food seems too daunting, focus more on healthy table food later and as they grow. Overall, it’s really a short period of time your child will be on pureed food anyway. Depending on your family and your lifestyle, store bought baby food may be the best option, offering more family time and less stress.

Association of Childcare Physicians welcomes any questions that you may have regarding your baby, including nutritional recommendations. We can help navigate you during this very new and exciting time in your baby’s life! Please contact Dr. Shaw or Dr. Kellow at 618-235-2311 or visit our website to schedule an appointment.

asthma flare-UpsNo one likes to see a loved one suffering, and sometimes the thought of seeing your child with asthma flare-ups is simply too much to bear! There are ways to develop a management plan to assist your child when asthma flare-ups happen. It’s important to know the common triggers of a flare-up as well as symptoms.

Asthma causes the airways of lungs to be inflamed. During a flare-up, the airways become even more swollen causing muscles to tighten. This triggers wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath and a tightness in the chest. Obviously, these symptoms are hard to ignore and can be scary for a child. Common asthma triggers vary, but there are common ones we as parents can identify.

Children with asthma often have allergies, triggering asthma flare-ups. Allergens in the home can be house mites, animal dander, dust, and certain molds. If your child suffers from seasonal allergies, they can also cause an asthma flare-up. If you know seasonal allergens like pollen, grass and others may affect your child, it’s helpful to be prepared with a preventative treatment plan. Tobacco smoke can be an irritant as well as air pollution, too.

Keep in mind that some medications prescribed can worsen asthma symptoms. Aspirin and ibuprofen have been known to make symptoms worse in some people with asthma. Triggers like anxiety and stress can potentially increase asthma systems as well. Other triggers include viral and bacterial infections, exposure to cold or dry air, and acid reflux. That’s why it is always important to eat right and get rest when needed. When your child has good health and follows good lifestyle habits, it can help minimize flare-ups and improve your child’s overall quality of life.

There are asthma medications that help prevent flare-ups and control symptoms, reducing airway inflammation and offering your child the comfort he or she deserves. Typically there are two types of medications for asthma. One is for “quick-relief” and the other type is to gain long-term control of the symptoms. Bronchodilators are common inhalers your child can use to offer temporary comfort. Nebulizer machines and a type of medicine called an anticholinergic can also be used for “quick-relief”. If your child suffers from more frequent asthma symptoms, taking long-term, daily medications is preferred. There are several options available. Talk to an allergist or your child’s pediatrician for more information on what’s best in your particular situation.

As previously mentioned, creating an asthma management plan with your doctor or allergist is very important so that your child receives the best care possible. The plan should include the following:

  • Ways to avoid the triggers of an asthma attack
  • Medications that prevent symptoms or are used for “quick-relief”
  • Identifying when and why your child is doing well and when to seek help

This plan creates a partnership between the family and caregivers so when a flare-up does happen, it can be remedied in a quick and comfortable manner. The goal is to minimize the discomfort as well as cut down on the interference of an asthma attack in your child’s daily life.

Because asthma triggers can vary, it’s important to vary your treatment plan. An allergist can help determine what your child may be allergic to, and then how to avoid those allergens. Over time, adjustments may need to be made to ensure the medication’s continued effectiveness. Asthma symptoms and triggers may change as your child grows, so continued communication is important between family members and medical providers.

As always, we look forward to talking with you about your child’s health and answering any questions that you may have, including any concerns you may have about your child’s allergies or asthma. It is our goal to do what’s best for your child’s health! For more information on creating an asthma management plan or to schedule an appointment or physical, please call the Association of Childcare Physicians, LTD. at 618-235-2311.

back to school vaccinesEven though it’s the lazy days of summer, before we know it the bus stops will be bustling and the school bells will be ringing once again. School means it’s time to figure out if and when sports physicals are due and schedule back to school vaccines for any soon-to-be students in your home. Our office is here to answer questions that you may have about vaccinations, why they are important and which ones are typical.

Staying current on vaccinations is highly important, giving your child the best defense against preventable diseases. We tend to think that disease and illness can’t happen, either to ourselves or those that we love. Unfortunately, complications happen when vaccine-preventable diseases are disregarded and vaccines are neglected. One of the main reasons vaccines are important is because we live in a global society today, and there are viruses that are NOT globally eradicated. As we continue to travel internationally in our society, any viruses can be spread between us.

The risk is real. There are still people that do not believe in vaccinations. Many believe it’s a personal choice to decide if their child should be vaccinated. The reality is, when you decide NOT to vaccinate your child, you are endangering the entire population. Non-vaccinated children and adults can spread diseases to babies that are too young to be vaccinated. People with cancer, transplant recipients, the elderly and sick are all at a higher risk when exposed to people that have not been vaccinated.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has a thorough list of vaccinations that they recommend children need. The AAP recommends that vaccinations begin when your child is two months old, scheduled at the appropriate time in conjunction with a child’s development. Specific vaccinations for school depend on where you live, so it’s best to call your local school and ask the school nurse. Also, you can usually find the information on your state or city website. You can also view a current list of common vaccines by visiting the website link https://www.healthychildren.org/English/Pages/default.aspx.

Typically, common vaccines include Tdap (Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis), HPV, Meningococcal and flu. Your child’s physician will have a schedule for the vaccines and which ones are necessary. It’s important to talk to your child’s doctor or nurse in our office about the vaccinations best for their age. A recent study by the Journal of Pediatrics stated that vaccines save the lives of approximately 42,000 children and prevent 20 million cases of diseases every year in the US. Also, because vaccinations are considered preventative care, most insurance companies pay for them 100%. The benefits of vaccines for your child, your family and the world in which we live are quite extraordinary.

As with any medical treatment, there could be side effects. Common side effects may include a slight fever, skin rash, or soreness at the site of the injection. Typically, any side effect goes away quickly. If your child is known to experience any of the aforementioned side effects from vaccinations, your doctor may recommend ibuprofen to be taken prior to their scheduled appointment. We strive to provide a comfortable, nurturing environment for your child during their visit with us. Please let us know if your son or daughter has any anxiety about receiving their vaccinations so we can make sure the experience is a pleasant one.

We look forward to talking with you about your child’s health and answering any questions that you may have, including your inquiries about recommended vaccinations. It is our goal to do what’s best for your child’s health and happiness. For more information on your child’s vaccination schedule or to schedule an appointment or physical, please call the Association of Childcare Physicians, LTD. at 618-235-2311.

eating disordersEating disorders include extreme emotions, attitudes and behaviors surrounding both the issues of food and the person’s weight. However, these disorders often go unnoticed by the victim’s family and friends. Eating disorders often develop during the teenage years or the stage of early adulthood. The most common eating disorders are anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder.

Anorexia is an emotional disorder that is characterized by an obsessive desire to lose weight by refusing to eat. Bulimia is an emotional disorder in which a large quantity of food is eaten in a short amount of time, followed by purging. Binge eating disorder is an emotional disorder in which one frequently consumes unusually large amounts of food and struggles to stop eating. This disorder is similar to bulimia; however; people with binge eating disorders do not purge after eating.

If these disorders are left untreated, they can cause serious health problems that can become life threatening. It is crucial that parents are able to recognize the warning signs of an eating disorder in their teenage child:

Anorexia: 

  • Becoming very thin
  • Feeling overweight in spite of being very thin
  • Having an extreme fear of gaining any weight
  • Obsessing about the amount of food he or she eats
    • Constantly counting calories, carbs and grams of fat in the foods they eat
    • Skipping meals throughout the day
    • Creating “food rituals”, such as chewing each bite of food a certain number of times before swallowing
  • Exercising excessively
  • Wearing baggy clothes to hide their weight
  • Taking diet pills, water pills or laxatives
  • In females, missing their period or having very irregular periods

Bulimia:

  • Skipping meals or eating very small portion sizes
  • Avoiding eating around others
  • Vomiting after eating (leaving the room immediately after eating to go to bathroom for an extended amount of time)
  • Sneaking food
  • Hiding empty containers of food
  • Fasting
  • Exercising excessively
  • Taking water pills or laxatives

Binge Eating Disorder:

  • Eating even when not hungry
  • Eating so much to the point of feeling uncomfortable
  • Eating large amounts of food in one meal or a short time period
  • Eating normal portions during meal times, and then eating large amounts of food afterwards when alone
  • Eating alone
  • Sneaking food
  • Constantly feeling depressed, moody or guilty after eating large amounts of food

It’s difficult to determine what causes eating disorders in teens, but there are theories. Experts believe it usually happens between the ages of 13 and 17 for a reason: this is a time of heightened emotional and physical changes, academic stressors and peer pressure. Additionally, during this time in a child’ life, teens may feel that they are not in control of their freedom and controlling what they eat and when they eat it, offers a certain control that they desire. For young girls, it’s normal and necessary to gain weight during puberty. This weight gain may make a girl feel insecure and unconfident, causing them to lose the weight any way possible.

If your teen has exhibited any of the symptoms listed above, contact your child’s doctor immediately. His or her medical provider can help evaluate your child’s specific symptoms and offer you recommendations of what to do next. By seeking professional help for your child, you are preventing him or her from developing even more serious health issues. In most cases, teenagers dealing with eating disorders seek treatment through counseling and working alongside a dietician to develop healthy eating habits.

Discussing your child’s eating disorder with him or her will not be easy; however, the conversation must happen. Despite how difficult it may be, remember that you are only doing what is best for your child’s health and happiness. For more information on the warning signs of eating disorders or tips on how to address your child’s eating disorder, please call the Association of Childcare Physicians, LTD. at 618-235-2311.

Hyperthyroidism In ChildrenIs your child lethargic, experiencing on-going belly pain and exhibiting a change in behavior? Changes in school performance and even some delay in growth and development may mean your child is suffering from hyperthyroidism problems due to Graves’ disease, an immune disorder and over-activity of the thyroid gland. Pediatric Graves’ disease is less common than a diagnosis for adults. In addition, a diagnosis of Graves’ disease can be rare. However, if either parent or their siblings have thyroid problems, it may be time for a visit to the Association of Childcare Physicians office to determine if hyperthyroidism is present.

What happens in children with hyperthyroidism? Along with a delay in growth and development, you may notice delayed puberty in your pre-teen. Hyperthyroidism can mimic other health problems, so it’s often difficult to diagnose. In infants, the delays can be more severe and therefore more noticeable. Children with hyperthyroidism usually look younger than they are, may experience sudden weight loss yet an increased appetite. They may display increased anxiety and changes in bowel movements. It’s important to know that symptoms in children may develop over time as well, which makes an accurate diagnosis sometimes difficult. For example, there are cases of children being diagnosed with ADHD or ADD but instead have an overactive thyroid.

Graves’ disease is a common cause of hyperthyroidism in pediatric patients but a diagnosis of an overactive thyroid doesn’t automatically mean your child has Graves’ disease. Thyroids are located in the front portion of the neck, below the thyroid cartilage also known as the “Adam’s apple”. Thyroids are important because they regulate body energy and they play an important role when interacting with other hormones in the body. With a properly working thyroid, hormones successfully interact with nutrients in the body, offering proper growth and maturity of body tissues and optimum health.

If you suspect your child may have hyperthyroidism, more tests can be done to determine if Graves’ disease is the culprit. Patients with Graves’ disease may have a list of unexplained issues similar to hyperthyroidism, including rapid heartbeat, increased sweating, frequent bowel movements and/or sleeplessness. Because Graves’ disease symptoms are closely related to hyperthyroidism symptoms, making a confirmed diagnosis is important for proper treatment. If you notice some or many of these symptoms surfacing in your child, schedule an appointment with our office so that a diagnosis can be made.

A simple blood test can determine your child’s thyroid hormone level. If the diagnosis is confirmed by a high level of thyroid hormone level and a low level of pituitary thyroid stimulating level (TSH), your doctor will then need to determine the next steps for your child.

Depending on the diagnosis, treatment options will vary. For example, treating Graves’ disease can be done with the use of drug therapy. Other options, including surgical subtotal thyroidectomy or radioactive iodine can help with symptoms your child may be having. There are different options available when your child is experiencing symptoms of an increased thyroid level. The good news is that with thyroid hormone replacement and adequate treatment and medications, a child will catch up in height and weight to children in their age group and will begin to feel better.

Although Graves’ disease is an uncommon diagnosis, the genes have been known to be passed down from family members that have thyroid disease. That’s why it’s encouraged to receive testing for other family members after a confirmed diagnosis for Graves’ disease or hyperthyroidism. Left untreated, the disease has potential to be life threatening. There are resources available if your child has been diagnosed with Graves’ disease or hyperthyroidism. One website, http://www.gdatf.org/about/about-graves-disease/children-graves/, can help you determine if your child is exhibiting symptoms of Graves’ disease and if further testing is required.

Early diagnosis can be helpful in all illnesses, especially in children. If you notice any symptoms of hyperthyroidism or have a family member that suffers from thyroid disease, please contact Dr. Shaw or Dr. Kellow at 618-235-2311 or visit http://childcarephysicians.com to schedule an appointment.

Poison Ivy and Poison Oak Rashes With spring here and summer right around the corner, your child is spending countless hours of playtime outside. This time of year, it is critical to be able to identify and properly treat poison ivy, poison oak and any other plant-related rashes your child may encounter. The best way to prevent these rashes from occurring is to take the time to teach your child how to recognize these poisonous plants, and to reinforce how important it is to always stay away from them. Enforce the ‘leaves of three, let it be’ rule. However, in the unfortunate case that your child does come in contact with poison ivy or poison oak, take these preventative measures:

    • Gently wash the affected areas with warm, soapy water. After several minutes of washing, rinse and softly dry the area. Avoid scrubbing your child’s skin harshly, as this can cause more irritation.
    • Wash all clothes, shoes and pets that may have came into contact with the plant to get rid of any potential urushiol oil, which is produced by the plant that triggers the rash. This step is extremely important because if the oil comes into contact with other areas of your child’s body, the rash will spread.

Approximately 85 percent of people are allergic to poison ivy and poison oak. If your child is allergic, a rash will typically appear in one to four days after the encounter with the plant. More often than not, the rash appears in streaks on the skin due to brushing through the plants. If your child happens to develop a rash from poison ivy or poison oak, try these simple at home remedies:

    • Apply calamine lotion to the affected areas three to four times a day. The lotion will help calm your child’s constant itch. The lotion can be purchased at your local drug store.
    • Reduce your child’s inflammation by gently applying a one percent hydrocortisone cream to his or her affected area.
    • If the calamine lotion and hydrocortisone cream do not help in soothing your child’s rash, give your child a cool bath or an oatmeal bath. Remember to avoid scrubbing his or her skin to prevent increased itchiness.
    • Apply a cool, wet washcloth on your child’s affected area. The cool compress will help soothe the annoying itch.
    • At nighttime, try an oral antihistamine to reduce the itchiness so your child can relax and fall asleep.
    • If your child has long fingernails, trim his or her nails to prevent rough scraping of the skin, which can potentially cause an infection.

If your child’s rash does not respond to these treatments and begins to worsen or he or she develops a fever, you should contact your child’s pediatrician immediately to prevent infection. If you have any questions in regards to treating your child’s poison ivy or poison oak rashes, please contact Dr. Shaw or Dr. Kellow. For more information on the Association of Childcare Physicians, LTD., call 618-235-2311 or visit our website.

Nutrition & Exercise Needs For TeensBetween balancing academics, a part time job and extracurricular activities, being a teenager is no easy feat. Your teen’s hectic schedule may interfere with receiving the proper nutrition and exercise his or her growing body needs. With these simple nutrition and fitness tips, your teen will have more energy to lead a happy, healthy lifestyle:

Nutrition:

To properly nourish their growing bodies, teenagers need to be eating high-energy, nutritious meals that include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat protein and dairy.

Fruits and Vegetables: When preparing your family’s dinner, a good rule of thumb is to make sure at least half of your child’s plate contains fruits and vegetables. Dark green, red and orange veggies are best, as they contain high levels of vitamin C, calcium and fiber. Adding fruits and vegetables to your dinner menu can be done quite simply and affordably. For example, simply adding romaine lettuce and a slice of tomato to your child’s sandwich is a great, easy way to get more vegetables into their meal. Also, swapping out your child’s regular after school snack of potato chips with carrots and ranch dip or a fruit cup is a great way to practice proper nutrition even while snacking.

Your teen’s daily diet should contain whole grains, which are packed with nutrients, including protein, fiber, Vitamin B and antioxidants. Make their lunchmeat sandwich with whole-wheat bread rather than white and switch up your white rice stir-fry with brown rice. Starting the day off with a bowl of oatmeal and a slice of whole-wheat toast is a delicious, easy way to ensure your busy-bee teenager is eating enough whole grains.

With your teen constantly on the go, a protein-rich diet is a necessity to help him or her grow strong and have the energy to power through the day. Some protein-rich foods to pack in your teen’s lunch are: turkey, chicken breasts, eggs, beans, nuts, cottage cheese and greek yogurt.

Dairy is packed full of essential vitamins and minerals for your teen to grow strong and healthy, such as calcium, vitamin D and B and protein. A glass of skim milk with dinner is a simple way to ensure your child is consuming dairy. Yogurt, a cheese stick and cottage cheese are all delicious, healthy dairy options to have stocked in your fridge for snack time.

Fitness:

If your teenager does not play a sport, or even if they do and it is off-season, he or she may not be getting their daily dose of physical activity. Being physically active for at least 60 minutes per day reaps endless benefits for your teenager, such as weight control, increased flexibility and balance, better ability to focus during school and it can even improve his or her mood! Encourage your child to put down their game controller or turn off the Netflix and get outside and play everyday.

Being active doesn’t have to be hard or boring, it can be fun and invigorating when done alongside family and friends. Your teenager can be active through simple yoga poses or an intense game of tennis! Other fitness ideas include basketball, swimming, hiking, dancing, biking or walking your family’s four-legged, furry friend. Mix up the exercise routine with some favorite activities and you’ll find it’s much easier for them to “stick” with it.

Your child’s teenage years are some of the best years for making memories. Ensure their health and happiness by placing emphasis on their proper nutrition and fitness. The health habits they learn now are the habits they will carry with them into their adult years. For more information on your teenager’s nutrition or exercise needs, please contact Dr. Shaw or Dr. Kellow at 618-235-2311 or visit http://childcarephysicians.com.

Breastfeeding Tips for New MomsBreastfeeding your baby is no easy feat. It may be a natural process, but it also can be a difficult one. However, we encourage all new mothers to at least try to breastfeed as it reaps endless benefits for your little one and yourself.

Early breast milk, called colostrum, contains countless nutrients and antibodies, helping your newborn grow stronger and fight off diseases. Breastfeeding helps mothers lose their pregnancy weight, and it also reduces the risk of postpartum depression and breast and ovarian cancer. Not to mention, nursing your newborn saves you money on pricey formula. Breastfeeding is truly worth the struggle and effort, as it creates a special bond between you and your little one. We have provided some tips to help make the process easier for both you and your baby.

If possible, try to breastfeed your newborn within the first hour of birth. Do not be afraid to ask for help. The maternity nurses or a hospital lactation consultant can help you position the baby and ensure he or she is latching on correctly. While it might be uncomfortable when your baby first latches on, it should not be extremely painful if you position the baby correctly. It is important to make sure you are comfortable because if you are uncomfortable, it is likely the baby will be too. Cradle your baby close, bringing him or her to your breast, rather than leaning forward and bringing your breast to the baby. Support your baby’s head with one hand, while supporting your breast with the other hand. Once the baby begins nursing, look and listen for a rhythmic sucking and swallowing pattern.

During the first few weeks, newborns typically need to be nursed every two to three hours. Allow your child to drink as much as he or she wants. Breastfeeding is supply and demand and the more often you nurse, the more milk your body will produce for your baby. This is why it is important to listen to your baby’s cues of hunger such as sucking motions, stirring, restlessness and crying. To ensure your child is receiving enough milk, allow the child to drink from each breast during a feeding. Rest assured, you’ll know your baby is getting enough milk because of their diaper changes! To keep your milk supply in both breasts even, alternate which breast you begin nursing with for each session. If one breast seems to be retaining more milk than the other, you should pump that breast to preserve your milk supply.

During this time of constant feeding, it is important to stay hydrated to ensure your body can produce enough milk. Try sipping on a glass of water when nursing. As your baby and you get acclimated to nursing, try not to introduce a bottle or pacifier. The thrusting motion required to nurse is much different from sucking on a pacifier or bottle nipple, and this could confuse your baby. Also, do not offer water to your baby until he or she is around six months old. Your baby will get enough hydration from breastfeeding alone. After his or her first birthday, when your baby is eating solids and no longer breastfeeding, you can let your baby drink as much water as he or she likes.

The most crucial element of breastfeeding is relaxation. Try to nurse in a calm, quiet environment, as you will be more likely to release your milk. At first, you may need privacy to feed your baby. Over time, the process will become much more natural for both your baby and yourself. Until this happens, do not give up. As the saying goes, “patience is a virtue”, and this is certainly true for breastfeeding your baby. We hope these tips help you have a successful nursing process with your newborn! If you have more questions about breastfeeding your newborn, please contact Dr. Shaw or Dr. Kellow for further information. For more information on the Association of Childcare Physicians, LTD., call 618-235-2311 or visit our website.

dangers of OTC medicineDiscussing the danger of over-the-counter (OTC) medicine misuse is a very important but often overlooked conversation that every parent needs to have with his or her children. All too often, children are taken to the E.R. due to the accidental misusage of OTC medicines. Educating your children on the importance of medicine safety can help prevent these E.R. visits from occurring.

Making younger children take their medicine is certainly no walk in the park; however, you should never encourage them to take their medicine by comparing it to “candy.” Telling your child that their cough medicine tastes like bubble gum can cause them to want to take the medicine when they do not need to. This can lead to accidental indigestion and overdoses. When treating your child for an illness, you should take the time to talk to them about the specific reason for taking the medicine. Try using words like “treatment” or “cure” rather than “this will help you to feel better.” Explain that medicines should only be taken under adult supervision and when sick or hurt, and that if taken otherwise, OTC medicines can be extremely dangerous to their health and well-being.

The best way to prevent misusage of OTC drugs is to always practice proper medicine safety in your home and also teach your children the same safety precautions:

  • Always read the entire Drug Facts label prior to giving your child the medicine
  • Never give your child more than the labeled dose
  • Never take the medicine more frequently than directed on the label
  • Never take medicines for longer than directed on the label
  • Always check the medicine’s expiration date before taking, and immediately dispose of medication if it is expired
  • Never take medicines to treat symptoms that are not listed on the label
  • Talk with a doctor or healthcare professional before mixing different kinds of medication

When giving your child medicine, always use the dosing advice that originally came with the bottle. Kitchen spoons, tablespoons and teaspoons may not always measure the same amount as the actual dosing device. After your child has taken his or her medicine, put the medicine away immediately. A designated cabinet that is out of reach from all little ones is an ideal, safe location to store your family’s medicines. Choosing OTC medicines that are packaged in bottles with child resistant caps that can be sealed tightly will also help prevent accidental indigestion.

OTC drug misuse is extremely preventable; however, it is important to keep the Poison Help number (1-800-222-1222) in your phone in case of an emergency. Always remind your children how important OTC medicines are, that they keep us healthy, but only when used properly. Take the time to fully understand the medicine that you are giving your children, and help them understand it as well. For more information about preventing medicine misuse in your home or if you have any questions about OTC medicines, please contact Dr. Shaw or Dr. Kellow at 618-235-2311.