A Pediatrician’s Guide to Dressing Your Baby

Most people do not turn to their pediatrician for children’s fashion advice, but there are a few questions that come up often. Below are my thoughts as a pediatrician and a mother about some baby fashion dilemmas that have a medical basis:

    1. Ear piercing: The American Academy of Pediatrics does not give a clear recommendation about what age children should get their ears pierced, if at all. This is a personal decision for the parent and child to make, although your pediatrician may have an opinion. Generally, if the piercing is performed carefully and cleanly, there is little risk, no matter the age of the child, although after the first tetanus shot at 2 months is safer. A good rule of thumb though is to not pierce ears until the child is mature enough to assist in the care of the piercing. Gold posts minimize the risk of an allergic reaction and inflammation so are best for the first pair, which you leave in for 4-6 weeks.  More info: http://kidshealth.org/en/kids/pierced-ears.html
    2. Teething jewelry: You may have seen some babies wearing amber teething necklaces, which are thought to help soothe the pain of teething. However, there is no scientific evidence to support these claims and these necklaces pose a choking risk. Silicone teething rings and wooden toys are safer teething options. More info: http://www.chop.edu/news/teething-pain-risky-remedies-avoid
    3. Shoes for new walkers: There are many designer shoe options for new walkers out there, but since you baby will outgrow these shoes within a few months, the good news is that it is better for children to be barefoot. Of course once they are walking outdoors, you will need shoes, but these should be comfortable, flexible, and well-fitting and do not need to be expensive. Since children’s feet grow quickly, you should check the fit of their shoe frequently and have a professional fit their shoe if you have any questions. More info: http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/baby-shoes.html?ref=search
    4. Newborn hats: We have all seen the adorable photos of newborn babies wearing the pink and blue striped hats. Many new parents wonder though: how long does my baby have to wear that hat? Newborns have a hard time regulating their body temperature, but by the time they are ready for discharge, they can also stop wearing that knit hat routinely. Since infants lose heat through their head, wearing a hat can help keep them warm when you need them to be. In general, newborns need 1 additional layer than you need for the ambient temperature. So if you are comfortable in a t-shirt, your infant needs a onesie + blanket or a long-sleeved shirt. More info: http://www.chop.edu/conditions-diseases/warmth-and-temperature-regulation
    5. Sleep sacks: All parents need more sleep, so they are also always on a quest for anything that will help their child sleep better. Once your child is learning how to roll, you should no longer swaddle them, so that if they were to roll over while sleeping they can protect their face with their hands. Therefore, transitioning from swaddling to a sleep sack makes sense in the first few months. Remember though that it is more important that your baby sleeps on their back in a safe crib, than what pajama brand they wear. More info: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/sleep/Pages/A-Parents-Guide-to-Safe-Sleep.aspx

 

[The above is for general informational purposes only and is not to be considered as medical advice for any particular patient. Please contact your health care provider for advice about your own child. This post was originally published in the QVNA Magazine, March 2017, here.]

Birthday Party Giveaway

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My son’s birthday is this week, so in the spirit of birthday celebrations, I want to offer you all the chance to win a FREE birthday party at the Crayola Experience in Easton, PA. This party is good for up to 15 people + birthday child (additional guests are $14.99 each). The party must occur in 2017.

I love art-themed birthday parties and while I haven’t been to one at the Crayola Experience yet, it looks like a lot of fun. For the parents’ sake, the parties include party supplies and free printable invites.

You can enter the raffle below anytime between now and Tuesday, March 21st at 11:59 PM. The winner will be announced shortly thereafter and I will put you in touch with the folks at the Crayola Experience to start planning your party! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

[I have no affiliation with the Crayola Experience and I was not compensated for this post.]

Doctor Barbie

 

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Doctor Barbie has a laptop. She comes with other accessories, like a white lab coat and stethoscope of course, but one of her largest and most prominent medical tools is her laptop. As a pediatrician’s daughter, my child selected doctor Barbie from the aisle of infinite Barbie options because she knew I was most likely to purchase this one when otherwise walking the store repeating the mantra “no more toys.” So Doctor Barbie and her laptop now live with us and my daughter plays doctor, not by examining patients but by having her type on the keyboard.

“Do you use a computer like this one, mama?” she asked during one of the baby Barbie’s check-ups. I do not remember a Doctor Barbie in the 1980’s when I played with these silicone women, but I would imagine that her accessories included a reflex hammer and maybe even a microscope. My reflex hammer, purchased in medical school and balanced precariously in my white coat pockets for select months of my training, now sits idly in my home office. Alas, I conceded to my daughter that yes, mama spends a significant portion of her day typing on a computer, just like Doctor Barbie.

When I entered medical school I underestimated how much computer time would be in my future. I knew I would need it for documentation and to look things up on the great all-knowing Internet, but I could not imagine that computers would become fixtures in every exam room, touchdown space, and office that I would enter throughout my routine day. There are no longer verbal orders for medications or procedures; if it is not in the computer system, it does not exist.

One of the struggles many doctors face is how not to let the computer become a wall between us and the patient. How can I type while the patient is talking to maximize capturing the accuracy of what they are saying in my documentation and my workflow efficiency without becoming impersonal? There are some conversations that start innocuous and slowly as they move toward ultra-sensitive or highly emotional, the pace of my fingers on the keys slows to an eventual halt. The click-clack of typing does not engender a patient’s trust in divulging intimate details of their life. At some point though, it must be documented and so I retire to my work-space to type up the encounter, which is the only way others will appreciate and value it.

In addition to being my medical chart, my computer is now my laboratory, image library, pharmacy, textbook, immunization schedule, and growth chart. System outages can create a temporary pandemonium so disorienting that years later I can still remember the exact date of each episode. I remember in one such event walking around with a three-inch thick dusty medical textbook photocopying blood pressure charts for different ages and genders when my younger office staff said, “Oh Dr. Lockwood is so retro.”

Having computers in my career has certainly brought with it many advantages, particularly improved knowledge sharing between physicians and between physicians and patients. I am thankful each day for a good computer and typing teacher in Middle School, who is likely just as important as any medical school professor. The computer allows certain safety protections, reminders, and guidelines that allow for better patient care. I no longer need to decipher the scribbles of other physicians when everything is neatly before me in Times New Roman.

The makers of Doctor Barbie got me right, at least in accessories if not in body proportions. Watching Doctor Barbie type through her check-ups makes me cringe because of how close to the truth it is. She may not be the doctor I imagined growing up, but is certainly the modern doctor I have become. I am grateful to Doctor Barbie though because she reminds me to be mindful not to let the advantages of technology push out the traditions that made me fall in love with medicine.

 

[The opinions expressed above are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.]

Stop Motion Filmmaking for Kids: Goldfish® Tales Animation Xperience Contest

“I took like 100 pictures,” my five-year-old proudly told me when I came downstairs. Sure enough, my iPad storage capacity was met with a camera roll full of awkward angles of the floor, bookcase, and fingertips. His fresh passion for photography was inspired by our recent adventure in making stop motion films for the Goldfish® Tales Animation Xperience Contest. I decided to attempt this project as a way to entertain him on one of seven days off from school, but I imagined that it would mostly be me trying to halt him from eating all the Goldfish® before we made the film. I was pleasantly surprised that we actually had a film in the end.

The contest involves making a short stop motion film featuring Goldfish® crackers, with $5,000 prizes awarded for Best Use of Goldfish®, Best Story, Best Up-and-Coming Animators, and Best Overall.

craft supplies

I have never made a stop motion film, so this project was more experiment than anything. First, we looked at our craft materials and household items for inspiration. Then, we came up with our story-line and acted it out. Next, we recorded the film frame-by-frame. Lastly, we uploaded it to YouTube for viewing!

Polar Surprise

So sure, the story isn’t very complex and only makes sense if you have the mind of a five-year-old. The lighting and focus are spotty. The timing is off. But it has lots of heart and we had fun making it. My son does not even know there is a contest involved, he only knows that we made a film together. Watching him excitedly dream up and plan his next film, and his next, makes me smile like those cheesy yellow crackers.

View our film here: https://youtu.be/3Th5TdluJsw

You can submit a unique video every day until February 27th. We may have more coming…

[Disclaimer: This video is an entry into a contest sponsored by Pepperidge Farm, Inc. I was not compensated for this post but my video is entered into the Goldfish® Tales Animation Xperience Contest and I was given craft supplies.]

Tuesdays with Mommy: City Hall Tower Tour

North

If you can stand ascending about 31 floors in a 4-person elevator that feels like it is from 1871, then you will be rewarded with a 500-foot observation deck with the best views of Philadelphia. I’m talking about the tower in Philadelphia’s City Hall where a 27-ton statue of William Penn looks over the city. On a clear day like the one when we visited, you can see miles of amazing views including the city skyscrapers, Art Museum, Benjamin Franklin Bridge, and North and South Broad Street. Our tour guide mentioned that the day prior he had a birds-eye view of the Presidential visit and protests, and after some negativity toward Philadelphia during that visit, it felt great to be looking down on our gritty city bustling with hard-working, diverse people in the birthplace of democracy.

skyscrapers

Saying that this is the best view of Philadelphia is a bold claim, given the nearby shinier, 57th-floor One Liberty Observation Deck. In contrast, this tower is an old, no-frills historic outing complete with a a chain-smoking government employee and ledges coated in a half-inch of dust. With only five of us up there though and no commercial advertisements in the way, it felt like it was just us and the city. After we left, my son drew a photo of us in the tower with birds flying beside us, which although I do not remember seeing, is certainly how it felt.

Inside the City Hall clock tower
Inside the City Hall clock tower

We visited the tower on a day that my son was off from school and the City Hall Visitor’s Center employees were more than happy to give him some fast facts to bring back to his teacher. We learned that the 37-foot statue of William Penn is the tallest statue atop any building in the world. Also that it took 30 years for the construction of City Hall and during that time both the Eiffel Tower and Washington Monument surpassed it in height. It remained the tallest occupied structure in the U.S. until 1909 though and the tallest building in Philadelphia until 1987. Overall, this was a fun and educational trip that I would recommend for any city kid (or adult) looking to explore a piece of Philadelphia history without crowds or much tourism fanfare.

Broad Street

Details:
Tours available: every 15 minutes
Mon-Fri 9:30AM-4:15PM 
select Saturdays 11AM-4:00PM 
weather and capacity permitting 
Cost: $8 adult, $6 senior/military, $4 student/youth, child < 3 is free. 
PHLvisitorcenter.com/CityHall
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