facebook twitter blog Pinterest

Family Fun and the City

July 4, 2018 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Michele Fisher

Planning a family vacation this summer? Just because you’re traveling with kids doesn’t mean that your destination has to be a theme park. For a vacation that everyone in the family can enjoy (and that just might be educational, too!), consider a trip to one of our country’s amazing cities.

Cities offer a huge variety of activities for every member of the family, so chances are your biggest problem won’t be finding something to do, but figuring out how to fit in everything you want to do in the time you have. Here are some things to consider:

History. If you’re traveling to Philadelphia, for example, you’ll want to explore the city’s colonial history and role in the American Revolution. Check out Independence Hall, where America’s Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence. And don’t forget a visit to see the Liberty Bell or a stop at Betsy Ross’s home. Each American city has a unique history and story to tell, and most museums these days offer interactive, kid-friendly exhibits that will keep your children engaged and excited.

Hands-on fun. Just because you’re surrounded by sidewalks doesn’t mean your family can’t get outside for some fun combined with fitness. Many cities offer guided bike tours that will introduce you to sites you might have otherwise missed. Or, if you’re in Chicago, for example, you can rent Segways for your family and take a unique spin around the city. And speaking of Chicago, you can combine exercise and sightseeing by rollerblading—or walking or jogging—on the Lakefront Trail, which offers amazing views of Lake Michigan. Most cities have similar trail and park systems.

Food! If you really want to discover the “flavor” of a city, try its most famous cuisine. In Philly? You gotta have a soft pretzel and a cheesesteak. Chicago? It’s deep dish pizza time! Visiting Cincinnati? Try their own style of chili (served over spaghetti). Dallas? Hit the BBQ and queso. Boston? Try some of their iconic clam chowder and lobster. Okay, you get the picture. And I’m getting hungry.…

Tourist destinations. Sure, they’ll be crowded. And yes, they might be expensive. But they’re called destinations for a reason: Some city attractions offer such a unique experience that the memories your kids will take away from them are worth the hassle and expense. If you’re in Chicago, your trip won’t be complete without a spin on the Centennial Wheel and a visit to the Sky Deck of the Willis Tower. Going to NYC? Of course you need to see the Statue of Liberty and maybe take in a show on Broadway (depending on your kids’ ages). In LA? Get your pictures taken on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Rodeo Drive, or stroll along Santa Monica Pier. In Seattle? Time to visit the Space Needle and Pike Place Market.

Sports. If your family loves sports, take some time to support the local team. Some stadiums, such as Wrigley Field in Chicago, offer behind-the-scenes daily tours. Then relax and unwind spending an evening taking in a baseball game or soccer match as the sun sets.

About the Author

Michele Fisher is the author of the Come Travel with Me book series, including Come Travel with Me: Philadelphia and Come Travel with Me: Chicago which she was inspired to create by her daughter’s interest in travel and willingness to be adventurous and try new things. Michele is from Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she resides with her husband, son, and daughter. She has worked in financial services for 25 years and travels frequently for her job. Michele loves traveling to new places with her family.

Pack Your Bags – It’s Time for Summer Vacation! The Top 10 Tips for Traveling with Kids

June 20, 2018 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

By Michele Fisher

Summer is finally here, and for many families, that means it’s time for a family vacation! If the thought of traveling with your kids is both exciting and—let’s face it—a little nerve-racking, you’re not alone. But with the following tips, you can have a safe, smooth trip that every member of your family will enjoy.

1. Include your kids in the planning. Children will be more excited about a trip if they know what to expect and get to have a eoay in what they’ll be doing. In the weeks leading up to your vacation, share books and online information about your destination. Let each person in the family choose an activity or specific attraction they’d like to visit during the trip, and then be sure to include each in your itinerary.

2. Break up travel boredom with small surprises. Let’s face it, a long car ride or cramped trip in a plane can get boring for kids (and adults). To fend off the grouchy cries of “Are we there yet?” pack some small, inexpensive surprises in your travel bag. Think small toys, fidget spinners, Thinking Putty, coloring books, word search books, stickers, and more. Then ration out each surprise as boredom hits.

3. Have a plan, but be willing to change it. It’s tempting to try to fit as much as possible into each day of your vacation. But if your kids are feeling grumpy or tired, take a cue from them and slow down. Even a 20-minute ice cream break in the middle of the day or deciding to head back to the hotel for an afternoon nap while the sun is at its hottest could make the difference between cranky kids and happy ones.

4. Let your kids be amateur photographers. Pack a sturdy, child-friendly camera and then allow your kids to snap away at anything that interests them. This encourages them to be more observant, and you just might end up with an amazing pic from a brand-new (knee-high) perspective!

5. Pack plenty of baby wipes. Kids out of diapers? Baby wipes are still a godsend for cleaning off the surface of nearly anything you and your kids are going to touch. And, of course, hand sanitizer is a must-have.

6. Snack smart. Avoid the high prices charged at tourist destinations and pack your own snacks. But choose wisely. To avoid crashes following sugary snacks, choose foods that are high in fiber and protein, but low in sugar. Think whole grain crackers, low-sugar granola bars and (dry) cereal, string cheese, and fresh fruit.

7. Play “Who Gets Home First?” You can pick up postcards at nearly any tourist destination and turn them into a fun and easy game. Have your child choose one, write a short note on the back, and mail it to your home address. Then see if you or the postcard makes it home first!

8. Consider a wearable GPS tracker. Got a kid who tends to wander? GPS trackers come in many different models, from bracelets to watches to small units that you can attach to a child’s belt or shoe.

9. Or go low-tech. You could also simply write your name and phone number on your child’s arm, in case you get separated. For older kids, start teaching them your cell phone number a few weeks before your vacation. Finally, it’s wise to choose a spot at each new attraction you visit where everyone agrees to meet if you get separated.

10. Preserve those memories! When you get back home, no doubt you’ll be busy unpacking, doing laundry, and catching up on work emails. But you don’t want to forget all the amazing things you did as a family on your trip. The solution? Let the kids take care of this task by creating their own scrapbooks filled with souvenirs, photos, ticket stubs, postcards, and more. This is also a great way to keep them busy on a rainy day!

 

About the Author

Michele Fisher is the author of the Come Travel with Me book series, including Come Travel with Me: Philadelphia and Come Travel with Me: Chicago which she was inspired to create by her daughter’s interest in travel and willingness to be adventurous and try new things. Michele is from Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she resides with her husband, son, and daughter. She has worked in financial services for 25 years and travels frequently for her job. Michele loves traveling to new places with her family.

The Rise of Spring Allergies: Fact or Fiction?

June 1, 2018 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Several factors determine the severity of allergy season

 By Sonal R. Patel, M.D., M.S.

 

The spring 2018 allergy season could be the worst yet, or at least that’s what you might hear. Every year is coined as being the worst for allergy sufferers, but are spring allergies really on the rise?

 

There are many events that can help predict how bothersome the spring allergy season will be.  While it’s true that allergies are on the rise and affecting more Americans than ever, each spring isn’t necessarily worse than the last.

 

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI), 23.6 million Americans were diagnosed with hay fever in the last year. The prevalence of allergies is surging upward, with as many as 30 percent of adults and up to 40 percent of children having at least one allergy.

 

Following are factors that influence the severity of allergy season, along with some explanations about why more Americans are being diagnosed with allergies.

 

  • Climate Change: Recent studies have shown that pollen levels have been gradually increasing every year. Part of the reason for this is due to the changing climate. The warmer temperatures and mild winters cause plants to begin producing and releasing pollen earlier, making the spring allergy season longer. Rain can promote plant and pollen growth, while wind accompanying rainfall can stir pollen and mold into the air, heightening symptoms. The climate is not only responsible for making the allergy season longer and symptoms more bothersome, but it may also be partially to blame for the rise in allergy sufferers.

 

  • Priming Effect: A mild winter can trigger an early release of pollen from trees. Once allergy sufferers are exposed to this early pollen, their immune systems are primed to react to the allergens, meaning there will be little relief even if temperatures cool down before spring is in full bloom. This “priming effect” can mean heightened symptoms and a longer sneezing season for sufferers.

 

  • Hygiene Hypothesis: This theory suggests that exposure to bacterial by-products from farm animals, and even dogs, in the first few months of life reduces or delays the onset of allergies and asthma. Scientists theorize that because of the modern emphasis on cleanliness, children’s environments may be “too clean,” which might not allow their immune systems to be challenged and to develop properly. This may, in part, explain the increasing incidence of allergies worldwide in developed countries.

 

  • Allergy: The New Kleenex: Ever hear someone ask for a Kleenex instead of a tissue? Much like some people relate all tissues to Kleenex, many also blame runny noses, sneezing, and itchy eyes on allergies, even if they haven’t been accurately diagnosed. Increased awareness and public education about allergies can make it seem like nearly everyone has an allergy or is getting diagnosed with allergies, but it could be more of a public perception issue than you think.

 

While many allergy sufferers reach for over-the-counter medications to find relief, it’s best to visit a board-certified allergist if you believe you might have an allergy. An allergist can perform proper testing to accurately diagnose and treat your condition so the spring sneezing season doesn’t have to be bothersome.

 

Over-the-counter medications may work for those with mild symptoms, but they can cause a variety of unwanted side effects. For sufferers with persistent symptoms, treatment may include allergy shots, which not only provide symptom relief, but also modify and prevent disease progression.

 

If you think you might be one of the more than 50 million Americans who suffer from allergy and asthma, you can track your symptoms with the free online tool MyNasalAllergyJournal.org.

 

About the Author

Dr. Patel is a mom of twin daughters and a physician who specializes in pediatric/adult allergy and immunology with Adventist Health Physicians Network. She is also coauthor of the forthcoming Mommy MD Guide to Twins, Triplets, and More.

 

 

 

 

Double-Duty Spring Cleaning: Keep Healthy and Tidy

May 25, 2018 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

 

Seasonal ritual can also help ward off allergy and asthma symptoms

 

By Sonal R. Patel, M.D., M.S.

Spring cleaning can be more than a daunting chore for those with allergies and asthma. Dust, pet hair, and cleaning supplies can leave you reaching for the tissues instead of the broom. But according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI), spring cleaning can also help you avoid allergy symptoms.

When pollen counts are high outdoors, you may be inclined to stay indoors to try to avoid allergy symptoms. But seasonal allergy symptoms can last all year round for those allergic to indoor allergens.

Relief can sometimes be as simple as knowing how to remove allergens from your home. Here are some useful tips for banishing allergens in your home, and ways to avoid accidentally letting more in.

Remember that a fresh breeze won’t please. At the first sign of balmy temperatures, you might get the urge to open up your windows to bring in fresh scents. But this can also lead to unwanted pollen particles entering your home and making you sneeze long after your spring cleaning is complete. Before you reach for the air fresheners and candles, be aware that chemicals found in these items can spur asthma attacks. Your best choice is to opt for natural aromas from the oven or to try an organic air freshener.

Rub a dub, scrub. Bathrooms, basements, and areas that are tiled can be especially prone to mold. The key to reducing mold is moisture control. Be sure to use bathroom fans and clean up any standing water immediately. Scrub any visible mold from surfaces with detergent and water, and completely dry. You can also help ward off mold by keeping your home’s humidity level below 60 percent and cleaning the gutters regularly.

Love your pets, not their dander. After your family pets have spent many days indoors over the winter, chances are the levels of fur, saliva, and dander might be elevated throughout your home. Remove pet allergens by vacuuming frequently and washing upholstery, including your pet’s bed. Also be sure to keep your pets out of the bedroom at all times to ensure you can sleep symptom-free.

Do a whole-house deep cleaning—in stages, if necessary. Cleaning the entire house from top to bottom may take days. But you can get a head start by changing your air filters every three months and using filters with a MERV rating of 11 or 12. Also be sure to vacuum regularly to get rid of dust mites. Use a cyclonic vacuum, which spins dust and dirt away from the floor, or a vacuum with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter. Wash bedding and stuffed animals weekly.

Don’t neglect the great outdoors. As the grass turns green and flowers bud, it’s hard to stay indoors and focus on your spring cleaning routine. Still, it’s best to avoid being outdoors when pollen counts are highest (midday and afternoon hours). When mowing and gardening, be sure to wear gloves and an N95 particulate pollen mask (as rated by the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, or NIOSH), and take your medication before you go outside. Avoid touching your eyes, and be sure to wash your hands, hair, and clothing when you go back indoors.

Even when you reduce the number of allergens in your home, allergy symptoms can still be bothersome. Those with seasonal and perennial allergies should be under the care of a board-certified allergist, who can identify the source of the suffering and develop a treatment plan to eliminate symptoms.

For more information about seasonal allergies and to locate an allergist, visit Dr. Patel’s Allergy Busters or AllergyAndAsthmaRelief.org.

 

About the Author
Dr. Patel is a mom of twin daughters and a physician who specializes in pediatric/adult allergy and immunology with Adventist Health Physicians Network. She is also coauthor of the forthcoming Mommy MD Guide to Twins, Triplets, and More.

A Promising New Drug for Autism!

August 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Monica Lee, MD

 

When I walk through the door, I am usually greeted by my son sitting next to his therapist. She will prompt him to say, “Hi ___.” He usually ends up saying, “Hi Brenda, please” (his nanny’s name). He is five, almost six. You might find this a bit peculiar, but I am used to it. You see, having a child on the spectrum means you have to be okay with your son never calling you mommy. On the outside, I remain cool and calm since I have no other children and have never been called mommy, so you know, it’s not like I’m really missing anything. Inside, of course, is another matter. I would pay a lot of money to hear my son call me mommy on his own.

Through the years we have heard of many different alternative therapies for autism including GABA, cannabis oil, and Vayarin, but all the studies relating to them were unsubstantiated and the safety could not be proven. So when I heard about suramin, my heart did a little leap and is still pitter-pattering. The article I read was in The Economist, a well-respected journal, and it seems the drug has already been used in the past to help people with African sleeping sickness and river blindness. Researchers reported some amazing results in the autistic boys taking the drug, including one boy speaking a full sentence for the first time in 12 years! Another boy, who is five years old, started smiling and actually said to his mom, “I just don’t know why I’m so happy.” And on top of that, it has been shown to be effective in a small randomized controlled trial, the gold standard of clinical trials! After reading the article, I immediately sent it to different friends who might be interested in such developments, aka other MD parents of kids on the spectrum, and they were as excited as I was. My son’s dad was just as excited and wanted him to try it right away.

Being the doctor that I am, I delved deeper into suramin and found out that the research is being conducted at UC San Diego, which is within driving distance of Los Angeles, where we live! However, when I looked up the trial in the database at ClinicalTrials.gov, I learned that the lead researcher, Dr. Robert Naviaux, is not recruiting at this time for new subjects. Wikipedia says I can potentially get the drug from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), but this gives me pause because the drug needs to be given intravenously and also I wouldn’t want to dose the medicine and monitor my son myself. This whole journey has made me wonder how far I will go to see my son act normally. How amazing is this idea of hope based on a single article I read online. Now I will be sitting at the edge of my seat waiting for larger phase 3 clinical trials of this drug to demonstrate safety and efficacy.

Here are some tips if you start getting excited about a potential treatment for your child:
1. Consult first with your pediatrician. The doctor may have first-hand knowledge and access to many more databases and sources of information than you do.
2. Make sure that the treatment is safe. Confirm that it is FDA approved and has gone through phase 3 clinical trials at least or has been used for other purposes and safety has been demonstrated.
3. Call into question the sources proclaiming efficacy of the herb, treatment, or remedy. Does the source tend to gain financially if you buy what they’re advocating? Is it government regulated? Does the source have a good reputation or is it nonprofit?
4. Check ClinicalTrials.gov to see what trials are being conducted in your area and if they are recruiting new subjects.
5. Remember that we all want to see our children get better, and we want to keep them safe too!

About the author:  Monica Lee, MD, is a mom of one son and an ob-gyn in the LA metro area.

For a Successful School Year: Get Enough Fluids

September 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Mommy MD Guide Ayala Laufer-Cahana, MD

Is the water bottle your constant companion, or are you the type that trusts we can do just fine in between hydration opportunities? Does hydration status really matter all that much?

Clearly, dehydration is an unhealthy, dangerous state. Even mild dehydration – loss of just 2 percent of body weight in water – makes us less alert, affects our well-being, and of course makes us feel thirsty. But going without water for just a few hours hasn’t been studied much up until now.

4 HOURS WITHOUT WATER

A new study, led by David Benton, in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, recruited 101 undergraduate students, aged 18-30 years, and put them in a warm (86 °F, 30 °C) room for 4 hours, during which they performed cognitive tests.

Half the students got a 5oz drink of water 90 and 180 minutes into the experiment.

The students were not aware that what was tested was the effect of hydration on cognition – they were told that the experiment was about the effects of heat. The tests, which were repeated 3 times throughout the 4-hour study, included memory recall quizzes — in which the students were given lists of words, and asked to recall as many as they could remember immediately after, and then again 20 minutes later — attention tests and subjective mood scores.

Students that didn’t drink water forgot more words in both the immediate and delayed memory recall test, and had poorer attention scores. The students who got some water also reported less anxiety at the end of the test.

The 26 men and 24 women who had no water for 4 hours lost on average 0.72 percent body weight, but at 90 minutes into the experiment the participants lost just 0.22 percent body weight, which is very little. Nevertheless, memory was already affected.

IS YOUR KID DRINKING ENOUGH WATER AT SCHOOL?

This experiment suggests that even small changes in hydration can make a difference. Mood and alertness are the first to be affected when our body needs food and drink, and while mild changes in body fluids certainly don’t put us in danger of dropping blood pressure or shutting off our kidneys, proper hydration can help a student to perform at his best. Kids also lose a larger proportion of their water due to their smaller size and higher activity levels. The authors cite a few studies that prove that as a first-grader, a drink can help you think, and that 7-9 year olds that got an additional drinkperformed better on visual attention tasks.

As the school year starts, giving kids access to good drinking water, and reminding them to take that drink is a really simple way to make sure studying’s a little bit easier and happier. Hydration affects mood and if we can buy a little peace of mind with a glass of water lets do it.

By federal law, free drinking water has to be available to students during school meals. In between, kids should have access to plain water throughput the day, but policies change state-to-state and district-to-district.

Does your school have functioning water fountains? Unfortunately, due to old pipessome school fountains have been found to dispense water with unsafe lead levels.

So, as the school and academic year commence, encourage kids to pay attention to hydration, check that they have access to water that has been tested, and set an example by drinking enough yourself.

To a happy and healthy school year!

Dr. Ayala

Signs Your Child May Need “Sleep Training” {aka Parent Training}

August 14, 2016 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Mommy MD Guide Nilong Parikh Vyas, MD, MPH

Signs Your Child May Need Sleep Training: A Pediatrician’s Tale

Having a baby was one of the most wonderful, emotionally satisfying and beautiful things that has ever happened to me. After the initial exhilaration wore off and we finally got to take our bundle of joy home, it suddenly hit us: now what do we do? The reality was that – as amazing as it all was – I had no idea what to do. Combine that with the exhaustion from lack of sleep and, well, it was a bit overwhelming. Then came all the well intended advice from friends and family…

“You will be so exhausted but because you love your baby so much, you’ll somehow get through it.”

“You will want to hold that baby in your arms all day, everyday, and never put him down,”

“It’s the best thing that has ever happened to you so just deal with all the hard stuff!”

“You can sleep, shower and eat – when the baby sleeps.”

Granted, some of those things turned out to be true, but for me it was hard. Really, REALLY hard. I was not just physically exhausted but emotionally as well. I loved this baby; I really wanted this baby. I wanted to spend every waking moment with this baby, but wait … did I really? I was beyond tired, and it proved to be much more difficult than I expected. I thought that I was well-qualified for motherhood because I had loved (and was good at) all my baby-sitting jobs growing up. Moreover, I was a trained pediatrician. But I quickly realized that neither the universe nor pediatric residency prepared me for the hardest job of them all: motherhood.

My bundle of joy was 4 months old, super cranky and so was the rest of my family. He was cranky when I held him and even crankier when I put him down. He would fall asleep in my arms, but as soon as I would put him down, he would wake up, cry, and the process would start all over again. I would get him to sleep, walk out of the room, the floorboards would creak and he would be up again. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

I had to do something for the sake of my child and my own sanity…

The Solution: Sleep Training (aka Parent Training)

The one common thread through all the books I read on the topic of sleep was that I needed to follow my baby’s cues and let him guide me (instead of the other way around). I had to figure out what he was trying to tell me that I couldn’t hear, couldn’t judge or wasn’t listening to properly. As I watched him more closely, I noticed a pattern emerging. I monitored his sleep cues, as well as his hunger cues, trying my best not to confuse the two. I noticed that when I followed his sleepy cues, he would sleep. When I followed his hunger cues (and fed him only when I saw those), he ate better, which led him to sleep better, which led him to be happier. A less cranky baby led to a less cranky mommy. Common sense, right? But oh so hard to decipher when you’re in the thick of infant sleep deprivation, adjusting to motherhood and possibly returning to work on top of it all.

As I made this change, my son’s sleep cycles and feeding cycles became more predictable and so did my own life. Granted, I had many friends and family that told me they were “anti-schedule.” They said things like, “let the baby decide when he’s hungry and sleepy, and do not put him on a schedule. Let him sleep when he wants to and feed when he wants to.” Was putting him on a “schedule” going against nature and doing something wrong for my baby?

I soon realized that I was indeed following nature (my baby’s cues), and a schedule was emerging on its own, with only a minimal amount of input from me. This wasn’t MY schedule; it was my baby’s schedule. Then, I knew with confidence that I was doing the right thing. Not only did I notice a palpable increase in both mine and my baby’s overall happiness, I also noticed significant jumps in his development. I had the baby that everyone noted “you are so lucky to have such a sweet, happy and alert baby. He is so easy but wait until you have the next one!” Well, guess what? I did have that next one, and I put the same principles into play. And what do you know? I got really lucky. TWICE!!

Note to all: luck had nothing to do with it!

So What Is Involved With Sleep Training?

Many people think that sleep training is harmful to your child, that it involves leaving your child to cry for hours on end and that it’s akin to cruel and unusual punishment. What terrible parent would have a baby just to torment that child into fitting into their lifestyle and schedule? NO ONE!!

Sleep training is not the best term. It should more appropriately be called sleep adjustment, sleep tolerance, sleep associations, or my personal favorite: Parent Training. Just call it anything BUT sleep training. Parent training means that you are training yourself, as a parent, to learn what the baby is trying to tell you. In fact, you don’t have to do any of the hard work: just figure out your baby’s cues, and they will lead you. If you do that, the rest is easy and falls into place. It’s a matter of assessing his/her needs and putting in the necessary steps to fulfill those needs. In the process, he learns to soothe himself. You have to establish routine and consistency, and everyone can at least agree that a child needs that to grow and meet their milestones to reach their full potential.

If a child is not well-rested, it can lead to numerous problems throughout his lifetime. In the short term, sleep deprived children can be slow to meet developmental milestones. Of course kids will ultimately learn to walk, talk, read and write, but it’s more likely to happen readily and without much challenge if the child has had adequate sleep. A well-rested child is emotionally stable, more capable of dealing with the world around her and more willingly redirected. Lastly,a well-rested child yields a well-rested adult, which in turn allows you to be at your best when interacting with your child.

So how do you know if your family may benefit from parent training?

What Are the Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation?

  • Your child usually cries when you put them down to sleep
  • You have to lay with your baby for them to fall asleep
  • Your child falls asleep every time they are in the car
  • She is difficult to soothe and put to sleep
  • She is a perpetual ‘catnapper’
  • Multiple things have to be done to get her to sleep including continuous rocking, feeding, bouncing, walking, etc
  • Your child will fall asleep when you are holding her and wake moments after she is put down, even when you thought she was ‘fast asleep’
  • She cries even when you are rocking her
  • She takes longer and longer to fall asleep in your arms. This is mostly because children get distrustful when they fall asleep one place and wake up in another. Imagine if you fell asleep on the sofa and ended up in your bed – it would be very confusing for you! For the child, falling asleep in your arms then waking in their crib is more than a little disconcerting
  • If your child has been deemed ‘very active, hyper, can’t stop, always on the go, and doesn’t need much sleep’. Hint: ALL children need sleep and plenty of it

If you said yes to any of the above statements, it’s likely that your child suffers from sleep deprivation. It is one thing if you want to go to sleep with your child at 7:00 pm and want to lay with them in their bed, but if you are doing it because you have to – because it’s the only way they will get to sleep – then it’s a problem.

Every new parent wants to rock their child and have them fall asleep on their chest; that is the most precious feeling in the world. It is an entirely different story when that HAS to be the norm, rather than it being a special occasion. Everyone in the household needs good, quality sleep. Period. End of story. And it’s not great if it only happens occasionally; it NEEDS to happen Every.Single.Night!

If you rock or nurse your child to sleep and they stay asleep through the night, then there is no need to change a thing. If your child is happy, and you are happy, I’m happy. A lot of moms say “my baby only wakes up, feeds and goes right back to sleep, we don’t have any sleep problems at all.” That may be okay for you, and it seems to be okay for the baby. But while she is feeding, her brain is working, telling the organs to start working. The stomach is working, the gut is working … the pancreas, liver and kidneys, all working to process that meal she has in the middle of the night. That means her body is not resting, her organs are not regenerating and healing themselves as they are required to do during sleep. And even though mothers say they are sleeping through their infants nursing all night, there is a part of your brain that is awake throughout the process because you need to know at all times where you are in relation to your baby and where your baby is in relation to you. You are not going into a deep slumber as you should to regenerate yourself. But again, if you are happy and your baby is happy, I’m happy. I am mainly advising that if you wish for your child to sleep through the night and it’s developmentally safe and appropriate, it is indeed possible.

Preventing the Sleep Deprived Child

To prevent a sleep deprived child, parents and caregivers should follow these guidelines:

  • DO put your child to sleep following her natural sleep cues
  • DO put her to sleep drowsy but awake
  • DO maintain consistency and sense of routine as children thrive and depend on this
  • DO what feels right for you and your family and DO trust your gut
  • DO NOT let your baby fall asleep in one place and then move her somewhere else
  • DO NOT turn on TV or engage her at night if she wakes up
  • DO NOT think that this is just a phase and they will eventually become good sleepers. Remember, good sleepers as infants make good sleepers as adults
  • EVERY CHILD CAN AND SHOULD SLEEP WELL

The Ikea Effect of Cooking

August 6, 2016 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Mommy MD Guide Ayala Laufer-Cahana, MDIKEA

You’re never too young — or too old — to start cooking; Standing on a stool my kids barely reached the faucet when they started. Our first kitchen adventure involved making a good green salad, and included the basics of how to wash and dry lettuce, and the simple principles of mixing a good salad dressing. The second lesson’s product was a nice bowl of lightly salted edamame in their shell, which my kids still think of as “addictive food.”

We didn’t get into brownies and cupcakes until much later. I figured that creating a dish makes its creator treasure it, and why waste a lesson of love on brownies, which any kid’s bound to fancy anyway.

In his book The Upside of Irrationality Dan Ariely, professor of behavioral economics, devotes a chapter to the well know phenomenon of falling in love with the things we make, and the irrational value we attribute to the objects we had a more intimate relationship with. Ariely titles the chapter “the IKEA effect”— the Swedish maker’s assemble-it-yourself shelf Ariely labored over for hours somehow has a special place in his heart, and Ariely investigates why it’s so.

Through a series of experiments, involving the creation of origami animals, Lego patterns, and real-life examples of successful and unsuccessful businesses, Ariely comes to several conclusions regarding the evident connection between labor and love:

  • Putting effort into an object changes how we feel about it — we value the things we labor over• The harder we work on something, the more we love it
  • We’re so invested in the things we labored over, and value them so much, that we assume others share our (biased) overvaluation of our creation
  • Although working hard on a task makes us love it more, not completing the task is a deal breaker. We have no attachment to tasks we failed at or failed to complete.

Interestingly, Ariely also shows that both people and animals would rather earn their keep and work for their food. Even mice seem not to value free meals, at least not on a regular basis.

KIDS IN THE KITCHEN

The lessons above are valuable and applicable to many aspects of life: I think “the IKEA effect” chapter (the whole book in fact) has lessons for any employer or employee seeking greater work productivity and satisfaction, and for any parent contemplating showing photos of his kids to a stranger (no, he doesn’t think your kids are the cutest — he couldn’t care less).

But back to kids in the kitchen. Learning how to cook is a valuable life skill that will not only enable kids to eat healthier — no matter what you make at home it will usually be healthier than the bought version — but can also be a great tool in directing their preferences toward those foods you’d like them to eat more of, namely, fruits and veggies.

Ariely’s lesson also made me think of the importance of giving kids a task they can complete. Being responsible for just one small step in a complicated dish would result in much less creator’s pride than being able to claim the creation from start to finish as your work. So selecting recipes that are of just the right technical difficulty — challenging, but not too hard for a kid to complete — is the name of the game.

As time went by we moved to things like potato gnocchi from scratch. I wasn’t sure my kids would be able to create dumplings that hold up in the boiling water on their first try — I had many less than stellar attempts at this dish before I sort of mastered it — but beginners luck, or maybe I can take some credit as the instructor, theirs turned out incredible and light-as-a-clouds.

Ariely wrote nothing about clean-up — it doesn’t, unfortunately, reward one the way cooking and serving your handiwork does. For cleanup to be pleasurable the best tricks, I think, are joint effort and/or some good music.

I’d love to hear about your adventures in the kitchen —  as a kid or with them.

Dr. Ayala

“Learning how to cook is a valuable life skill that will enable kids to eat healthier”

The Downside of Gluten-freeing Your Kids

July 18, 2016 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Mommy MD Guide Ayala Laufer-Cahana, MD

Gluten FreeThe gluten-free food industry has seen tremendous growth, and while celiac disease – which requires lifelong complete avoidance of gluten – is also on the rise, consumers who do not have celiac or any other medical reason to avoid gluten are the main engine propelling the gluten-free boom.

Why do they do this, and is this a healthy trend?

Norelle Reilly, gastroenterologist and director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University Medical Center, in a commentary in the Journal of Pediatrics, cites a 2015 survey of 1500 American adults. “No reason” is the most common reason for going gluten free – 35 percent of those surveyed explained their choice just so. 26 percent choose gluten-free food because they think it’s a healthier option, and 19 percent perceive it as better for digestive health.

If gluten-free foods are indeed a healthy trend, the fact that 20 percent of Americans are seeking them for no medical reason might be a good thing. If, on the other hand, gluten free carries risk, this fad might be an expensive gamble.

THE RISK OF GLUTEN FREE

For people who do not have celiac, wheat allergy, or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, there is no data to support the notion that gluten free is healthy, states Dr. Reilly. In fact, packaged gluten-free food often contains more sugar and fat, and has higher caloric density. Contrary to what people believe, going gluten free without medical supervision can lead to packing extra weight, to insulin resistance, and to vitamin deficiencies, since gluten-free foods are not fortified the way wheat is.

And then there’s arsenic. Gluten-free diets often rely heavily on rice, and rice quite often, contains arsenic, which comes from the soil. The amounts are small, and probably not a problem if one eats a varied diet, but on a gluten-free diet rice becomes the predominant grain, and that can be especially problematic for babies and pregnant women.

A gluten-free diet, just like many other exclusion diets, comes with a quality of life price tag. And these specialty foods often cost more and are sold at a premium.

And since in kids there are only two indications for excluding gluten from the diet: celiac disease and wheat allergy (non-celiac gluten sensitivity has not been described in kids), putting kids on this diet carries risk with no apparent benefits. There is no support to the misconception that gluten is toxic, and no evidence that gluten-free diets treat a myriad of afflictions such as autism, arthritis or obesity.

Dr. Reilly concludes:

“Patients self-prescribing a GFD (gluten-free diet) should be counseled as to the possible financial, social, and nutritional consequences of unnecessary implementation.”

The food industry uses the health halo of the gluten-free health claim to better sell. It’s really important to emphasize that just like one knows that foods that are peanut free are not generally healthier, gluten-free foods are not a panacea; avoiding gluten isn’t a recipe for health for those of us who don’t have a sensitivity or autoimmunity that involves gluten.

Dr. Ayala

“There is no support to the misconception that gluten is toxic, and no evidence that gluten-free diets treat a myriad of afflictions such as autism, arthritis or obesity.”

 

Make Room for Dad

June 13, 2014 by  
Filed under Julie Davidson

by Mommy MD Guides blogger Julie Davidson

Do you ever feel like you need to be all things to everyone in your family? Even if it means doing something outside your comfort zone? Although I said yes to his request, I knew that playing football with my youngest son was a stretch. Literally. I’m pretty sure your arm shouldn’t feel like it’s out of the socket each time you release the ball.

Moms get a lot of credit. Maybe it’s the whole growing a baby inside our body thing. But it does seem a little lopsided in moms’ favor though. Think about it. We get the baby showers. The new wardrobe. And when the baby cries, mom is the preferred comforter.

Moms even dominate commercials. It seems like ads for Mother’s Day began at Easter. Have you even noticed any for Father’s Day yet? Exactly! And look at TV shows and movies. Moms are typically portrayed as in control and able to multi-task. Dads? Silly, too relaxed, and disorganized.

Undoubtedly, there are some aloof, rarely serious, not-so-organized dads out there. But don’t you think there are more than a few over the edge, oh my gosh you’ll shoot your eyes out with that BB gun, and make sure to wear a coat if the temperature drops below 60 degrees, and put on sunscreen every 10 minutes kind of moms as well? Touché.

It’s about trying to keep things balanced. So yeah—the one who leaves the lasagna-crusted casserole pan in the sink cannot get upset with the one who washes the dishes within 60 seconds after they’ve been used. Not that most men would sign up to have girl parts, (the tampon, PMS medicine, and 15-hour bra commercials kinda ruined it), but maybe things are tilted a little more in moms’ way when it comes to parental recognition. But men can’t bear children. Well, except for that guy on Oprah a few years ago who thoroughly confused my kids by actually having a baby. But all the other guys? They don’t get to do that.

But seriously, let dad shine. It’s not a competition, although I’ll be the first to admit, I wanted my son to think I was this amazing football-throwing mom. But just between us—my shoulder hasn’t been the same since.

Next Page »


The information on MommyMDGuides.com is not intended to replace the diagnosis, treatment, and services of a physician. Always consult your physician or child care expert if you have any questions concerning your family's health. For severe or life-threatening conditions, seek immediate medical attention.