facebook twitter blog Pinterest

4 Tips to Help You Navigate the Challenges of Raising a Child with Complex Needs

July 21, 2020 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

According to the National Survey of Children With Special Health Care Needs, 12.8 percent of children have special needs in the USA. For the parents faced with raising a child with special needs, life and parenthood can look vastly different to that of their peers. The journey from learning your child has been diagnosed with a lifelong condition that may result in physical, emotional or learning difficulties is often filled with both highs and lows, and follows a path forged by love and determination. From medical appointments to educational choices and planning for your family’s financial future, parenting a child with complex needs can be a rollercoaster. However, by being better prepared, you can navigate the journey successfully and help your child thrive.

Educate Yourself On Your Child’s Condition – The Good, Bad And What’s To Come

If there is one thing that weighs heavily on the minds of parents of children with complex needs, it is the uncertainty. Educating yourself on your child’s conditions, treatments and help that is available does more than help you feel more in control; it gives you hope. For the financial aspects, resources like the Special Needs Planning Guide, along with the government’s benefits website, can provide useful information on grants, aid and financial assistance available. 

For medical treatment and information on the condition, head to individual organization websites, or speak to your child’s doctor. Both of them can easily provide information on available treatments, the future, and everything attached to it, including emerging medical treatments, educational options, and a special needs life planning checklist for families, including additional steps for certain medical conditions. For instance, a child with cerebral palsy will probably need assistance throughout their life, and a cerebral palsy life care plan will ensure that they are supported even after childhood.

Find Your Support Network – At Home And Beyond It

Having a support network is vital for a parent of a child with complex needs. It provides emotional support for both parent and child, and in some cases can be a useful route to discovering helpful resources. Along with a strong network of family and friends, look into emotional support groups for your child and their careers in the local community. If your child attends school, a local school or district group can help them find commonalities with children in similar circumstances. Finally, consider reaching out to larger non-profit disability support organizations like Reaching for the Stars, March of Dimes, and The Arc. These organizations and many more are great for relieving stress, expressing difficulties, and offering hope for families dealing with special needs.

Take Steps To Get Your Finances In Order

Over 54 million Americans face the rising costs of living with special needs, according to the National Organization of Disability. While the average cost of raising a child is pegged at just above $240,000, that cost rises substantially when you are the parent to a child with complex needs. One example: Autism Speaks estimates that the cost of raising a child with autism or intellectual disability to be between $1.4-$2.4 million. 

Find out what benefits and aid you are entitled to. Federally, programs like Social Security Disability Income and tax breaks can provide much needed financial relief on household expenditure and medical bills. To access information on the resources applicable to you and your child, the Benefits Finder questionnaire can provide quick and clear information on the aid available for parents of children with special needs. The financial planning does not stop there either. Make it a priority to implement a regular household budget along with automated savings dedicated to upcoming medical bills and educational costs. Finally, consider securing medical, income, and life insurance for yourself, your spouse and your child where applicable. 

Leave Time For Yourself

While it may seem like the majority of your time is spent caring for and helping your child to grow, it is also important that parents leave time for self-care. This can be incorporated into simple daily habits, as well – for instance, by waking up before your child to practice mindfulness or meditation for 20 minutes a day. Alternatively, you can rely on family for babysitting for a few hours and pursue a hobby of yours. It can even be as small as adopting healthier eating habits to support your physical and mental health. After all, you cannot pour from an empty cup.

Raising a child with complex needs can be challenging and filled with unplanned surprises. However, by thinking ahead and making use of the resources around you, it can be a much easier and smoother journey – one that is rewarding and filled with love.

Handwashing: Our Greatest Weapon against Covid-19

July 2, 2020 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Mia Armstrong, MD

WASH YOUR HANDS!!!”—the battle cry of parents everywhere!  Since the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) was declared at the end of 2019, people around the globe have devoted more attention to handwashing.  While handwashing in and of itself is a simple act, it is important to know the key steps to EFFECTIVE handwashing.1 Successful handwashing skills diminish the risk of spreading germs to surfaces and other people.

Here are 4 steps that will ensure effective handwashing:

  1. First, thoroughly wet both hands. Surprisingly, this is the step that is most often omitted!
  2. Using soap, lather and then rub hands together for at least twenty (20) seconds. A fun and easy way to approximate 20 seconds is to sing the “Happy Birthday Song” or the “Alphabet Song” at a moderate speed.
  3. While washing, pay special attention to the backs of your hands, underneath your nails, around jewelry, and between the fingers.
  4. Finally, rinse hands and dry well with a clean towel.

But what about hand sanitizer?!? 

While effective in a pinch when soap and water are not available, several studies have proven that hand sanitizer is not as effective at eliminating germs; good old soap and water are the most effective.2 When hand sanitizer is the best option available, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend formulations with at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol.3 In the presence of children, however, hand sanitizers pose a hazardous risk! If they are ingested, there is potential for physical harm. Ethanol and isopropanol are both alcohols, and the ingestion of large amounts of alcohol can affect the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord, and nerves). It can cause low blood sugar, loss of consciousness, and even death! While a taste or small amount of hand sanitizer may not be lethal,4 as people are buying larger amounts of hand sanitizer during the COVID-19 era, it may pose more of a risk to the children in your home.  The best way to limit this risk is to store containers of hand sanitizer out of reach and supervise well when children are around it and using it.  Hand sanitizer should be handled with care in much the same way as any other chemical or medication in your home.  It should be stored in a high location, out of reach from the littlest hands.  In the home, purses or diaper bags containing hand sanitizer should be placed in a secure location. When riding in a car, these bags should be closed and in the supervisor’s eyesight at all times.

In the event of an accidental (or intentional) ingestion, call POISON CONTROL immediately: 1-800-222-1222.5

In addition to the potential risk of hand sanitizer ingestion and poisoning, there have also been concerns of containers of hand sanitizer exploding when left in hot cars — a likely phenomenon that may occur more frequently as summer progresses and we experience higher temperatures.  Several pictures of car interiors with burn damage have gone viral (pun intended!) on social media.  While this occurrence has not been substantiated, there is significant evidence that hand sanitizer is combustible when ignited by an open flame.6 Therefore, hand sanitizer is not a completely benign substance.  Yet, we cannot ignore the benefits of its use in a situation when soap and water are not available.  So, with knowledge and extreme caution, this necessary evil can still be used for good…not only fighting off Coronavirus, but other “bad guy” germs that may cause illness and destruction!  So, a parent’s life would not be complete without imploring their children to “wash your hands!”  Ideally, handwashing would be with soap and water using the steps detailed above.  When that is not the case and hand sanitizer is the next best option, it is my hope that your hand sanitizer will both be used and stored safely.  Happy handwashing!


  1. https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/hand-washing.html
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/show-me-the-science-hand-sanitizer.html
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/hand-hygiene.html
  4. https://www.poison.org/articles/2007-jun/hand-sanitizer-whats-the-real-story
  5. https://www.poison.org/
  6. https://www.cdc.gov/handhygiene/firesafety/index.html


About the Author

Mia Armstrong, MD is a Board-Certified Pediatrician and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics.  According to her mother, she dreamed of becoming a Pediatrician since the age of three years old!  She accomplished her goal by receiving her Medical Degree from the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, GA.  She completed her Pediatrics training in Jackson, MS at the University of Mississippi. Dr. Armstrong loves caring for children and teaching families how to be healthy! Though she enjoys working with children of all ages, she has a special interest in teaching new parents to care for their newborns and offering breastfeeding support as a Certified Lactation Counselor. Her other medical interests include asthma education, routine well care, and immunizations. She also enjoys traveling and exploring new cuisines and adventures. Dr. Armstrong loves to talk, never meets a stranger, and is excited to share her insight with parents everywhere through her blogs!


Be a Hero Too

June 5, 2020 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

By Samantha Rohe, MD

I was initially inspired to write a children’s book about Covid-19 by my son Henry. He is 3.5 years old and at the start of the pandemic he was constantly asking me questions. “Mommy why can’t I see the virus? Why can’t we go see Grandpa and Grandma? Is the zoo stillllll closed due to the germs?” In addition, I was stressed about all the changes myself and I could tell that he was sensing some of my anxiety. As a pediatrician, I talk to kids about all kinds of issues. However, addressing questions about a pandemic was new. If I was struggling to explain these concepts to my son, then many parents of my patients were likely going through the same thing. I decided to write a children’s book to help.

Writing my first draft didn’t take long. My children really love flowy lyrics, which is why I chose the rhyming style. I wanted it to be simple for them to understand, but yet have a positive message about how they play a part and can make a difference. Once I had a draft, my husband and I would read it out loud to one another and to our children. This helped me make any edits for words that resonated with our children better or to make a stanza flow better.

The biggest challenge I had was to find an illustrator. I asked a few friends that I knew did graphics work, but most of them could not commit to the short turnaround time we needed as they were still working full time. A friend from residency suggested reaching out to medical students as many of them wanted to provide services to patients during the pandemic, but were being sidelined due to trying to conserve PPE. Through a similar acquaintance at UNMC, I was introduced to Sophie Cemaj, a 2nd year medical student with a talent for what she calls doodling. She jumped on the project right away and started working on illustrations.

Sophie’s inspiration for the illustrations came from various friends, family, and favorite places. The cover and super hero of our book is inspired by her niece. The heroes on page 7 were inspired by her dad (a physician at UNMC), a good friend who is a nurse, and a friend who is a scientist. As we are both from Omaha, this gave her inspiration for the skyline and “Henry’s” (also my son’s name!)  Zoo on page 9. Throughout the book you can see Sophie’s fun personality come out through numerous hidden Easter eggs. Make sure to pay attention to the virus on page 1, the order of people on this page, and then how the virus gets transmitted throughout the book. Try to find the Nebraska inspired coffee mug, Napoleon virus, King Kong virus and various plays on some favorite childhood movies (Honey I Shrunk the kids, Lady and the Tramp, and Home Alone).

Once complete, we started sharing with family and friends. Our overall goal was to provide a resource for children and their families to open up the conversation about the coronavirus pandemic. We want our book to be a free resource for patients and families who otherwise might not be able to afford a book for their children. Most of all I want to emphasize to parents that there have been a lot of changes for families given the pandemic. Every child handles it differently. Some may brush it off and hardly notice, but many are much more observant and pick up on a lot more than you realize. They may have some fears and worries about our current world. The best way to know what these anxieties are is to talk with them. This book will help do just this. It helps start the conversation about what is going on.

Download and read the books here:

Be a Hero Too    Seě un Heěroe tuě Tambieěn

About Samantha Rohe, MD: I was born and raised in Newcastle, Nebraska and was always drawn to medicine. I attended Creighton University in Omaha, NE and while there it didn’t take long to know that being a Pediatrician was for me! I loved the resilience of kids, the ability to be silly while working, the constant changes day to day, and being able to work with the entire family. I attended residency at Saint Louis University/Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in Saint Louis, Mo. It was here that I met one of my mentors, Aline Tanios, who is one of the Mommy MD Guides. She was a great mentor for me when trying to figure out being a working mom! After residency, I worked in Saint Louis until my husband finished medical school. During our time in Saint Louis we were blessed with 2 beautiful children, Henry age 3.5 years and Lilly age 1.5 years. When my husband graduated, we headed back to our home state for his residency, where I currently work as a general pediatrician for Children’s Physicians/UNMC.

How Can Moms Take Care of Themselves at This Time?

May 6, 2020 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

By Elizabeth Berger, MD

What I would like to highlight is the idea that the way the question is posed is itself a window into the problem women face. The problem is that all of us—men and women—accept without examination the idea that a woman’s fundamental function on earth is to take care of others. Anything a women does to “take care of herself” is an added extra—permitted, in small doses, but only to the degree that the job of taking care of others has already been fulfilled. We all accept this as part of reality, rather than a choice that society has made—a choice that an individual woman can go along with—either with joy, with ambivalence, with resignation, with panic, or on occasion perhaps with refusal. No one would pose the question, “How can Dads take care of themselves at this time?” That question is absurd! No one perceives Dad as torn between taking care of others and taking care of himself. This does not mean that Dads aren’t hardworking and self-sacrificing and often heroic. But it does suggest that Dads are seen as coherent human beings with a natural right to find a balance between work and play, between service to others and simple personal enjoyment. But Moms are always in conflict with themselves. They are “naturally” torn between taking care of others and finding an opportunity to take care of themselves. It is assumed that Dad already knows how to take care of himself and that Mom takes pretty good care of him too. That’s her job! But apparently no Mom knows how to take care of herself. She needs an expert to tell her and, importantly, to give her permission. She needs bullet points and advice that emphasize how Moms won’t be able to take care of others properly unless they somehow find a way to take care of themselves. For Moms to take care of themselves, it has to be twisted around so that taking care of yourself is actually an aspect of taking care of others!

Moms don’t “take care of themselves” because this is not how society works.

Moms can take care of themselves by becoming aware of why this is an issue, recognizing that “taking care of themselves” is defined as something that is OK for Mom to do once everyone else has been taken care of. It is defined as something to do with those left-over moments around the margins. It is defined in terms of the entitlement of all those who are not Mom to have Mom take care of them first—before she takes a long hot bath reading her favorite book with a pretty scented candle burning away the hours.

The problem is that a woman’s fundamental function as caretaker is built into society at every level and it is built into the brains of every man, woman, and child who lives in this society. It is not the fault of individual Dads who don’t feel obligated to wash and put away the laundry and the dirty dishes before they are entitled to collapse in front of the TV. No man thinks that way, of course—although every woman thinks this way.  It is not the fault of teenagers who count on Mom to keep it all running smoothly. It is not the fault of Moms who feel obligated to take care of the family’s needs before taking care of themselves. It is everyone’s fault because we all accept this system as if it were actually built into reality rather than a social problem.

The best thing that Mom can do, then, is to recognize that the tension between taking care of others and taking care of herself is not a problem caused by her personal neurotic martyrdom or her husband’s personal laziness or her children’s personal self-centeredness. The entire world participates in this tension. We are all in this jam. This is a social problem. Recognizing that this is a social problem means that fixing it is going to take resources that no individual Mom can summon.

Recognizing that we are all in this jam helps Moms take care of themselves. It explains why it is so hard to tear oneself away from taking care of everyone else and take care of yourself. It makes sense of the guilt over the clean laundry in the dryer and the resentment of Dads who are sitting there watching TV. That already feels better, right there.

About the author: Elizabeth Berger MD is a child psychiatrist, author of Raising Kids with Character  (http://elizabethbergermd.com/), mother of two, and grandmother of four.

8 Top Reasons to Publish a Book

April 4, 2020 by  
Filed under J. Bright, Uncategorized

By Jennifer Bright

There’s never been a better time to publish a book. Why? Because you are probably home, maybe with free time and looking for something productive to do. Also because today the traditional publishing houses in New York are far from the only game in town. There’s a wide spectrum of publishing options—traditional publishing to self-publishing with a myriad of custom and hybrid publishing options in between.

But WHY should you publish a book? Here are some top reasons.

• As a published author, you’re automatically a recognized authority.

• Your byline on a book is your ticket to television, magazine, and radio interviews.

• Spokesperson, media, and speaking opportunities increase.

• Offering your books for sale after seminars and speeches allows you to cash in on “back of the room” sales.

• Offering your wisdom, expertise, and experience in a book benefits thousands of people—many of whom will never have the chance to meet you personally.

• Books have impact: 

  • Reading on paper is slower and deeper than on screen; paper readers remember more.
  • Reading a book stimulates emotions and desires.
  • Reading a printed book requires more focused attention than reading on screen—fewer distractions.
  • A book drives sensory involvement, which contributes to impact on readers.
  • Books are preferred by the majority of people—even millennials.
  • Your book will help you spread your message far and wide.
  • Your book is your legacy.

Great books have been written in as few as a few minutes a day. Find some time, grab your laptop or even pen and paper, and write your book—one word at a time!

About the author: Jennifer Bright is founder and CEO of Bright Communications, a woman- and veteran-owned custom publisher in Hellertown, PA, helping expert authors and visionary brands bring their books to light.

How to Keep Your Kids Safe from Online Predators

March 4, 2020 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

In the modern world we live in, it seems like just about everybody owns a smartphone, tablet, or laptop. While there are tons of benefits that using the internet can bring, it’s much more anonymous than the real world.

As a parent, it’s only natural that you want to make sure your children are safe and protected both online and offline. With people hiding their identities or pretending to be someone they’re not on the internet, this can present a real danger to children and teens who access the internet. No matter how old your children are, here are a few tips on how to keep your kids safe from online predators.

Talk to Your Children

While the internet can be a great educational tool for your kids, there are unfortunately many predators who use chat rooms and social media to interact with children. Although it can be a difficult conversation to discuss, talking to your kids about what sexual predators are and explaining about potential online dangers can give them the precautionary tools they need to stay safe and protected when online. Make sure that you explain the grooming process, as well as warn them about tactics that online predators may use to initiate conversation. Knowledge is power, so the more aware your children are about online dangers, the wiser and savvier they will be.

Install Parental Control Software

The worldwide web can be a dangerous platform for anybody regardless of age, sex or gender. Unfortunately, you are only ever a few clicks away from explicit material and sexual predators, so installing parental control software should be your next port of call. Having software in place can be used to identify and remove harmful content found on social media and online forums. You need to explain to your kids the reasoning behind this decision so that they understand that you’re not spying on them but rather keeping them safe.

Regularly Monitor Your Child’s Online Activity

It’s important that you keep an eye on your children’s online activity. No matter their age, monitoring the types of websites they visit and the people they interact with can help keep them safe when using the internet. Make sure that you let your kids know from the offset that you will be monitoring their activity, so they can hand over their devices to you at a moment’s notice. There will be some children who don’t realize the dangers they are putting themselves in, so keeping track of their online activity is crucial.

Understand Social Media

Whether you love it or loathe it, social media is here to stay. Billions of users from across the globe access platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat each day. While the vast majority of users are respectable human beings, unfortunately, there is a small percentage who are using social media for the wrong reasons. To keep your children safe from online predators, you may benefit from setting up your own social media platform. There are numerous privacy settings that you can add on to your child’s account to ensure any users you don’t recognize cannot contact your kids. Once you’ve gained a better understanding of social media and how it works, you can take precautionary measures to make sure your children are safe.

Limit Screen Time

If you feel your kids are spending too much time online, it may be best to limit their screen time. While they may throw a tantrum at the beginning, you need to set boundaries in place to keep them protected online. Online predators are cunning individuals who come up with new tactics to engage with children and hook them into a conversation, so if you’ve noticed your child has become reserved, or they are spending too much time online at night, this should be a cause for concern.

Do Your Research

To bring you peace of mind, there are numerous other strategies that you can take to ensure your children are safe from online predators. If you have been monitoring your child’s activity and found a username that you don’t recognize, you may want to check Name Change Records on websites like PublicRecordsReviews. If you have any suspicions, the website can confirm your information here and give you data on a person’s social media profiles and email addresses. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so using sites like these can give you reassurance.

While the internet can be a great tool for your children to stay in touch with their friends and keep on top of coursework, you need to be aware of the dangers and hazards that are ever-present. Online predators are always coming up with new methods and strategies to engage with children, so it’s important that you always stay one step ahead.

8 Tips for Planning Your Family’s Financial Future

February 13, 2020 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Starting a family should be one of the most exciting and enriching experiences that life can offer. When bringing a child into the world, it’s only natural that your full focus, love, and care will be on your children to ensure they are well looked after, but it’s also important that you get your finances in order from the get-go. If you aren’t sure where to start, here are eight tips on how to plan your family’s financial future.

Understand Your Current Financial Situation

First it’s important that you get a clearer idea of your family’s current finances and spending habits. To do this, you will need to gather bank statements via online banking that you can use to track current expenses, such as household bills and eating out. There are budget planning apps that you can download onto your smartphone to help you keep track of your day-to-day spending, but a plain old spreadsheet can work just as well if you aren’t tech-savvy.

Set Financial Goals

To set financial goals, ask questions like what sort of things you and your family would like to afford in the future. Set reasonable, timely, and reachable goals so that you can achieve your objectives. You may have different goals short-term and long-term goals. Whether it’s saving for a family trip away or a wedding, having realistic financial goals in place and creating an emergency fund is important.

Find Out Where You Can Save

Once you have a better understanding of your expenses, it will be easier to identify any negative spending habits. Seeing how much you spend on things that you don’t need can be a great way to reduce your expenditure and cut back on the unnecessary to save money.

Create a Budget

If you are wondering how much money you can realistically afford to put towards your savings, the best way to do this is by creating a budget that can help you stay in control. There are various tools you can use online to collate your spending. Once you figure out what your current incomings and outgoings are, you can decide what to do with the rest of your earnings. There are seasonal expenses you should factor into your budget too, such as anniversaries and birthdays. Although it may seem like a chore at first to create a budget, you will be thankful in the long run.

Build a Strong Financial Foundation

While you may think all you need to do is save, it’s important that you take what you have learned about your current financial situation and sort out any outstanding debts first. Cutting expenditure and setting aside spare money to put towards any debt can help you build a strong and secure financial foundation. Find out how much money you can put towards your debts so that you don’t have to worry about incurring fees and interest.

Secure a Retirement Savings Plan

It’s also important that you have a think about your retirement plan as early as possible before you begin planning how much money you can put aside for future generations. Your employer may already have a scheme in place, so at the bare minimum, you need to be matching your employer’s contributions.

Take Out Life Insurance

We can never be certain about what the future holds, so it is always wise to prepare for the unexpected. Taking out life insurance should be at the top of your to-do list. It can help pay for important things such as funeral costs and outstanding debts. Having life insurance in place ready for if you were to pass away will ensure those you loved aren’t impacted financially. Check out sites online where you can compare life cover companies by answering a few short questions.

Minimize Risks

To bring you and your family complete peace of mind, you may want to consider hiring an accountant who can help you keep track of your spending and identify any causes for concern. The last thing you want is to spend beyond your means, so having a professional step in can help provide you with financial stability for your family’s future.

No matter how financially secure you are, it’s important that you keep a close eye on your day to day spending. As a parent, keeping your loved ones happy, safe, and financially stable should be your number one priority, so make sure to take all the tips listed into account.

4 Top Tips for Traveling with Kids

February 5, 2020 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

By Jennifer Bright

When you think “vacation,” do you think “summer”? Maybe it’s time to think “fall” instead!

Fall is a wonderful time to travel, especially if you have young children. The weather is cooler, the foliage is lovely, and attractions will be less crowded because families with older kids aren’t likely to take their kids out of school to travel so early in the school year.

But parenting is hard enough at home! How can you take this show on the road without losing your mind? Traveling with toddlers especially can really be a trip. Here are some feeding tips that mommy M.D.s—doctors who are also mothers—use themselves to travel with their own children.

“When my children were toddlers, I quickly learned that you can’t bring it all with you from home when you travel,” said Ann V. Arthur, M.D., a mom of two, a pediatric ophthalmologist in private practice at Park Slope Eye Care Associates, and a blogger at WaterWineTravel.com, in New York City. “Fortunately, many clever companies rent kids’ equipment, such as portable cribs and strollers, when you arrive at your destination. This saved me from lugging tons of gear through airports.”

“When I traveled with my sons when they were toddlers, I dressed them in matching clothes, usually brightly colored shirts that we purchased on a previous trip,” said Carrie Brown, M.D., a mom of two and a general pediatrician who treats medically complex children and specializes in palliative care at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, in Little Rock. “This helps for many reasons. One, when my sons were dressed alike, it was obvious that they belonged together. Two, dressing them alike made it much easier to spot them in a crowd. And three, it would have been easy to describe one child to someone if need be. I could point to his brother and say, ‘He’s dressed like that!’ Thankfully, I never lost a child, so I didn’t have to test this theory.”

“When my kids were toddlers, we went on an annual summer beach vacation with their cousins,” said Eva Mayer, M.D., a mom of two and pediatrician with St. Luke’s Coopersburg Pediatrics, in Pennsylvania. “With so many other people along with their own needs and wishes, it often felt like our family’s needs went out the window. We rented a pretty small house at the beach, considering all of the people we jammed into it. It was very challenging to carve out our own space. Early on, I learned to say, ‘This is what we need to do for our family.’ Also, if we needed some space, I would grab my kids and head out for a walk on the beach by ourselves.”

Dr. Rallie’s Tips

With a teenager and two toddlers, my husband and I didn’t have the courage to travel very far or very often. It was just too exhausting! When we did travel, we made sure that we were well prepared in advance. One of our first big trips by plane was to Walt Disney World, and I took an extra day of vacation just to pack and plan for the trip. In addition to clothes, shoes, favorite toys, and lovies, I made sure to stock a lightweight travel bag with all of the things that we would need to keep us as healthy as possible while we were traveling, including the following items.

• A zipper-lock baggie for each person’s toothbrush and toothpaste: It’s best to have a small tube of toothpaste for each family member. If you don’t share toothpaste, you’re less likely to share germs.

• Small packets of honey from a fast-food restaurant: Honey has antibiotic properties, and it’s a great remedy for coughs for toddlers and older children.

• A disposable ice bag for bumps and bruises

• Healthy snacks, such as raisins or granola bars in single-serving size packs

• Sugarless chewing gum to ease ear discomfort on the airplane

• Tylenol and Benadryl and the dosage cups

• Band-Aids and antibiotic ointment

• Sunscreen

• Hand sanitizer and wipes to clean the tables and everyone’s hands before eating at a restaurant

—Rallie McAllister, M.D., M.P.H., mom of three, nationally recognized health expert and family physician in Lexington, Kentucky

Mommy MD Guides–Recommended Product: Queasy Pops

Few things can derail a trip quicker than an upset belly. An easy, natural remedy you can toss into your travel bag are Queasy Pops. Made by the same company that makes Preggie Pops, these lollipops are drug-free and contain natural flavors such as peppermint, lemon, and ginger. You can buy them at stores like Walmart for around $3 for a box of 7.

Jennifer Bright is a mom of four, co-founder and CEO of Momosa Publishing and co-author of “The Mommy MD Guide to the Toddler Years” She lives in Hellertown, Pennsylvania. To find out more about Jennifer Bright and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.


4 Top Tips for Feeding Your Baby

February 5, 2020 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

By Jennifer Bright

One of my most cherished memories is feeding my sons when they were babies. It was so special to me that I only recently could part with the glider rocker I sat in to nurse them—and my youngest is 12 years old! I remember the cozy closeness of holding my babies in my arms, gazing down at their sweet faces, and feeling so proud and accomplished to be caring for them in the most intimate way—by feeding them.

New parents have many choices when it comes to feeding their babies, including breastfeeding, bottle-feeding, or combo-feeding. Here are some feeding tips that mommy M.D.s—doctors who are also mothers—use themselves:

“When my kids were babies, I kept this top of mind: Fed babies are best!” says Michelle Davis-Dash, MD, a mom of two and a board-certified pediatrician, in Baltimore, MD. “Whatever method gets your baby satisfied and fed is the best.  If you’re breastfeeding, it’s okay to pump and store the milk for later days, and it’s okay to be tired.  As a new mom, taking life one day at a time is all you can do. Love your baby and reach out for help if you need it!”

“Breastfeeding is best, but it was challenging for me,” said Jennifer Hanes, D.O., a mom of two and a wellness physician at drhanes.com, in Houston, TX. “I wasn’t producing enough milk for my baby to gain weight, despite getting support from a lactation consultant. It was really sad for me, and I felt like a failure. I ended up using formula. I pumped as much as I could to supplement with breastmilk because it helps support the baby’s developing immune system, but the majority of my babies’ intake was from formula.”

“Breastfeeding is best. But mothers put a lot of pressure on themselves to breastfeed,” said Sonal R. Patel, M.D., a mom of twin daughters, a pediatric allergist with Huntington Asthma and Allergy Center in Pasadena, CA, and coauthor of “The Mommy MD Guide to Twins, Triplets, and More.” “I assumed breastfeeding would come naturally, but one of my girls had colic and slow weight gain. I was in such a stressed-out, sleep-deprived fog that I didn’t even think about seeing a lactation specialist, but I wish I had. I tried natural supplements, but I still was unable to produce a lot of milk. I came to realize that I was going to have to supplement with formula. I felt guilty, and in hindsight, I wish I had cut myself some slack.”

Dr. Rallie’s Tips

People often ask me if I breastfed or bottle-fed my sons. Moms feel tremendous pressure to choose between breastfeeding and formula-feeding. My experience is a great example of how this doesn’t have to be a one-or-the-other decision. It’s perfectly fine—better even—to choose both.

I got the best of both worlds by breastfeeding and formula-feeding with all three of my sons, and I would not change that experience for the world! For all three of my kids, I started nursing. But early on, I supplemented with formula.

I found this to be beneficial for many reasons. One, my husband could also feed our babies, which was a positive experience for him and our sons.

Two, adding formula helped me to transition back to work. Supplementing with formula meant that I no longer had to pump at work. I nursed my sons at home before and after work, and then they drank formula during the day.

This flexibility helped me, and it also helped my babies. My sons thrived on the seamless combo of breastfeeding and formula-feeding.

— Rallie McAllister, M.D., M.P.H., mom of three, nationally recognized health expert and family physician in Lexington, Kentucky

Mommy MD Guides–Recommended Product: Store Brand Infant Formula

If you choose to not breastfeed—or are not able to for medical or other reasons—infant formula is the only safe alternative to breast milk, says the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

There are many brands and types of formulas. Brand-name formulas are expensive. You’ll likely wonder: Are name brands more expensive because they contain better ingredients? Is the extra cost worth it?

The answer is no. Ounce for ounce, store brand formulas contain the same nutrients as name brands. Store brand formulas meet the same rigorous Food and Drug Administration

(FDA) standards as do name brands—but store brand formulas cost much less. Learn more at www.storebrandformula.com.

Jennifer Bright is a mom of four, co-founder and CEO of Momosa Publishing, publisher of “The Mommy MD Guide to Feeding Your Baby Right.” She lives in Hellertown, Pennsylvania. To find out more about Jennifer Bright and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.


Holiday Tips

November 26, 2019 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

By Susan Shor

With holidays here already, life becomes more frenetic. Many people thrive on the excitement, family, parties, and big meals, but children who have autism, sensory issues, or just plain need routine, this time of year can add extra strain.

Here are a few things to keep in mind to maintain your holiday joy and also give your children what they need.

1. They aren’t doing it on purpose.

This seems so obvious, but it’s not. I know. When you are running around, listening to honking horns, or trying to organize a meal for 16 and your child is acting out, remember that acting out is a symptom of something they can’t express or don’t even understand is bothering them. As a parent with a sensitive child, you have to stay preternaturally calm (I know, so hard) and play detective.

2. Give them plenty of warning.

Don’t spring things on them. Let them know what’s happening ahead of time. Be as detailed as you can. Make a visual schedule, if they like that. Then check items off together. Consider a seating chart.

3. Build in downtime.

Your child is not insulting you or anyone else if they need to leave the table or the big family celebration. Even adults sometimes need to get away from the fray. Build breaks into your schedule. Make sure you let your child know that excusing themselves to go to a quiet, safe place is OK. Develop a signal that you can use if you feel your child needs a break, but hasn’t yet realized that. Remember, children are not that self-aware. Transitions during meals or before and after them make for good times for a child to slip away for a few minutes without it becoming a fuss.

4. Assign your child a job

Sometimes, being involved and busy helps. Your child can focus on a task and feel proud of an accomplishment. Try to make the task a familiar one instead of adding something new during a stressful time. What chores or tasks does your child do regularly? If they clear their plate after dinner, consider asking them to help with that job. Practice with family meals beforehand.

5. If you’re a guest: Ask for accommodations

No, you can’t expect the world to revolve around your child, but you can  explain what your child needs and accomplish some of what is on this list anyway. If you are staying local, can you bring your child over to practice and set up a safe space? Even if you are traveling (a different set of issues I will tackle later), see if you can get a heads up on the schedule or pictures of the holiday setup. Any preparation you can give your child will help.

6. Remember … things happen

No matter how prepared you are, no matter how much everyone understands and loves your children, something may go wrong. The hardest thing you will have to do is learn this: Don’t sweat it. You and your children are doing the best you can and the people who love you know that. You are probably harder on yourself than any of them will ever be.

Now relax and enjoy the holidays.

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.