There’s a lot of white noise out there for parents. Every corner you turn, ‘well-meaning’ people have unsolicited advice to share. Other times parents have very set ideas on how they want to raise their children, whether it’s based on research, how they were raised themselves, or strong philosophies they’ve always known in their guts. It can be hard to know what messages to ignore and which to take to heart. Sometimes we’re all clueless.
Medical professionals have years of education, practice, and sometimes a pinch of their own experiences as parents, to apply practical advice for patients. They often use this real-life experience to help moms protect their own and their child’s health and well-being. Many find that sometimes what’s popular isn’t necessarily what’s best, and cringe at parental related ‘health trends’ that are making the rounds.
It can be hard to convince a parent that something they believe in isn’t in the best interest of health, especially with pseudo-doctors and celebrity culture presenting their own ideas of healthy parenting successes. These doctors are shooting from the hip in terms of strong messages that will help moms build a family that is happy, healthy, and strong. Are you ready to listen?
The pressure for new moms to bounce back is getting bigger and bigger thanks to social media and our celebrity-obsessed culture. Dr. Tami Prince warns new moms that this isn’t a reality they should be striving for.
Prince says, “I tell my patients, no running to the gym immediately after delivery even if you’ve seen your favorite celebrity bounce back a day after delivering her baby. Everyone heals at a different pace so try not to compare yourself to another woman who has also delivered. The postpartum period is not as glamorous as portrayed on TV.”
Parents worry about the long-term stigma and health of their child in terms of eating habits and their weight, but these good intentions could be completely backfiring.
Dr. David Hill says, “Put healthy foods on the table, and then don't worry how much your child does or doesn't eat. We know parents who try to impose overly restrictive diets on overweight children, and they end up with children with even worse weight.”
When parents try to ‘help’ their kids like this it impacts their self-esteem in more ways than we can imagine. Some people aren’t meant to be thin, and that’s normal and okay. Support your kid to eat healthy, not diet.
You know how on the airplane they tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself before moving on to help the person beside you? Parents need to keep this in mind because if they aren’t healthy and making themselves a priority they aren’t going to be able to give their best to their kids.
Lisa Matzer, Cardiologist says, “Don't make health your lowest priority. That means keeping your doctor's appointment even when your child's ball game creates a conflict.”
Speculation on safety issues aside, co-sleeping with your children can be an amazing way to bond and connect, and can also make breastfeeding a lot easier. That being said, according to a medical study published in the Journal of Development and Behavioural Pediatrics, “The longer children co-slept, the worse their sleep habits—including shorter sleep duration and frequent awakenings.”
If you think your co-sleeping is making your kid get more Zs, think again and maybe reconsider your sleeping situation if they don’t seem well rested on a regular basis.
There are few doctors who will stand by an anti-vaccine agenda. This is because they’ve seen firsthand and have intimate knowledge about long-term effects. Doctors everywhere are hanging up signs written by the Northern Rivers Vaccination Association that warn, “Not vaccinating your kids leaves them vulnerable to disease their whole lives. When your daughter gets rubella when pregnant, how are you going to explain that you chose to leave her at risk? What will you say when she calls you and tells you she has cervical cancer because you decided that she wouldn't need the HPV vaccine?
What do you tell your son when he breaks the news to you that he cannot have kids, thanks to the mumps that he got as a teenager? And what do you say when he gives influenza to his grandma? How do you explain that she won't be coming home from hospital? Not ever.”
Parents have every reason to worry about the negative impact that cell phones could be having on their kid’s overall physical and mental health. Since cell phones haven’t been around all that long there is limited testing on the long-term impacts of continual cell phone use.
Dr. Ann Louise Gittleman warns, “Holding a cell phone near your head is like holding a low-powered microwave oven close to your brain." This provides yet another reason to consider delaying getting your kid a phone and setting strict rules that everyone in the family follows, like no cell phones in the bedroom.
So many people give this advice to new moms, but doctors weigh in and say this common sense approach to parenting infants will be beneficial for everyone. Dr. Prince says, “Sleep allows your body to heal and will help balance your hormones. Lack of sleep can lead to increased risk of diabetes, hypertension, depression and other chronic illnesses.”
Because of this, and the strange sleep patterns little ones have, it is wise to try and get some shut-eye when baby does. The dishes can wait. Your health is worth it!
For whatever reason, a lot of us want to be super mom, even when we’re learning the ropes. It’s second nature to say no when people offer their help. Take a breath and just say yes because the more you say no, the less help will be offered. High Risk Maternal Fetal OBGYN Daniel Roshan says, “Don’t hesitate to accept or ask for help as much as possible. Taking a break from the baby every now and then helps with recuperating and makes you better able to care for your baby.”
We are all worried about how much time we spend in front of a screen. More and more we’re seeing children complain about how their parents ignore them, to be on their phone. These habits are going to come back and bite us when our kids get phones of their own. By creating consistent ‘no phone rules’ for everyone in the family kids will be most receptive.
Dr. Yolanda Reid Chassiakos, lead author of the "Children and Adolescents and Digital Media Technical Report” says, “What's most important is that parents be their child's 'media mentor’.That means teaching them how to use it as a tool to create, connect and learn."
Many moms struggle with re-connecting to their former pre-child selves in terms of their body and state of mind and self in the weeks, months and years after becoming a parent.
Dr. Ross’s advice is that maybe we should ease up on the thought that this is going to happen overnight and says, “You [can't] rush the recovery process...there are so many major physical and emotional changes happening in a relatively short period of time during the postpartum period, so don’t pressure yourself to get your pre-pregnancy body back."
We all hear about the warnings of going down the Dr. Google rabbit hole, particularly when it comes to pregnancy symptoms or that annoying rash the little one came down with. On the other side, no one needs to be calling their doctor 24-7 for every little question they may have.
Dr. Staci Eisenberg says the internet can be a wealth of information for parents, “Going to reliable sources online, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, or the CDC, can be a good way to prepare for a visitor to double-check information. And for parents-to-be, seeking out information before the baby is born can help make sure that information is understood and retained."
Expectant moms often spend so much time focusing on the labor, delivery, and their prenatal life that they fail to learn about the fourth trimester, the first three months after baby arrives.
Dr. Sherry Ross says, “The least talked about, but one of the most important, times during the pregnancy cycle is the postpartum period. The exact time for this period varies with each woman, but you can expect the first six weeks to be the most challenging hormonally, physically and emotionally.”
It seems that as soon as some babies become toddlers parents get into a panic to make sure their child is potty trained before their third birthday and freak out if it’s not working. Dr. Ari Brown, author, Toddler 411 says, potty training isn’t even considered to be delayed at all until a child turns four years old.
Dr. Brown says, "Your child will be ready when she's ready. The two criteria for success: 1. Your child must be clued into the urge to go, not clued in that she has already gone; and 2. Your child must want to be clean. No matter how many M&M's you give her, it will not happen without the desire to be clean."
Many people don’t care as much about the oral care of their children’s teeth because they know that they aren’t permanent, but this is a mistake. Not only does early dental hygiene set your kids up for good habits that will last a lifetime, it will also impact the health of their adult teeth as they come in.
Dr. Christy Valentine says, "Those baby teeth are holding places for adult teeth, so it's important to take care of them. Also, pay close attention to how they look (brown spots are a warning sign of possible cavities) and when they start falling out. Boys usually start losing their baby teeth at 5 or 6, and girls start a bit earlier. Also, the front teeth fall out first.”
Kids are growing and need consistent sleep patterns, not to mention moms need a little bit of ‘me’ time before they go to bed themselves to help keep the mom/life balance alive. In terms of setting a routine, Dr. Barbara Huggins says, “You need to schedule a set bedtime, give or take 30 minutes. Having a regular nightly routine, such as reading books or taking a bath, will help create a calming atmosphere.
And while nap times might vary in length and frequency, pay attention to your child's cues and at least get her to lie down when she's tired during the day. Many times toddlers will fall asleep on their own."
It can be so tempting to engage with a toddler or older kid when they continually act out, trust me I’ve been there, but all we’re doing is providing negative reinforcement that is going to lead to more bad behavior.
Dr. Tanya Remer says, “As long as the child is in a safe place, look away. They are looking for attention and when they don't get it, the tantrum will stop." When out in public you can rely on colouring books and other distractions to help your kids fight off bad behaviour induced by boredom.
So many of us parent without using our gut, or think more about what others think or what we should do instead of how our instincts guide us in our parenting. A little self-reflection might make parenting easier.
Dr. Heather Lubell says, "I always remind parents that no one is perfect, and we all make mistakes. There is always a neighbor or friend doing something differently, and that doesn't mean one is right or one is wrong. Trust your parental instincts, and most importantly, love your children and let them know it."
Kids really know how to push their parents’ buttons. Give them a sibling or two and they’ll work extra hard to get on each other’s last nerves as well as moms. When a parent is feeling particularly overwhelmed and angry it might be better to put themselves in time out instead of the child. This way she can truly be the adult and parent calmly.
Dr. Lubell suggests, "Put your child in a safe place and then take a few minutes to cool off." Yelling and bad moods can be contagious.
Children will pay more attention to how you act over what you say, they’re little sponges. This means everything from how often you swear (they’ll always pick up an F-bomb over please and thank you) to how you resolve conflict is going to impact them.
Dr. Polly Dunn, Child Psychologist has some great behavioral advice for parents, “Be the kind of person you want your children to be. If you're concerned that they're yelling too much, examine your own actions.”
The outside world is full of germs, and parents can help negate some of this by following this doctor’s advice. I truly wish I had this in my back pocket when we were fighting constant daycare illness as my children developed their immune systems because it would have saved at least a couple of sick days.
Dr. Bajowala, an allergist, says she keeps her kids healthy by, “having everyone wash their hands, faces and change their clothes when we get home. That way we aren't passing around germs and pollen.”
References: What to Expect, Family Circle, Fit Pregnancy, Chill Dad, Pop Sugar, Parenting, Parents