I have noticed that as a pediatrician parent sometimes my selections of children’s products are viewed as an endorsement of that product. For example, I have had parent friends and playground acquaintances question what brand ___ [insert stroller, diapers, fruit pouches, sippy cups, etc here] I prefer to use and ask what I recommend to patients. I find this funny because nowhere in my medical training did anyone teach me how to select the best car seat (but I do know The Car Seat Lady and she has helped me!). No one told me I should or shouldn’t buy products with/without BPA. I have never attended a lecture about feeding utensils. The questions that I do feel prepared to answer are those that directly effect children’s safety, such as a safe sleep surface or choking hazards. I also understand child development and what products are age- and developmentally- appropriate. Beyond that, I muddle through the vast array of options in the children’s stores just like every other parent. When I created my first baby registry, I brought along two parent friends to guide me as to what products I did/did not need and what brands worked for them. I asked them as parents, not pediatricians. They taught me things like using cloth diapers as burp cloths, a true parenting pearl. Then, I tried things out and refined my purchasing along the way because only after being a parent will you know what works for your kids.
Inevitably when I am browsing friends’ baby registries, there is one of those first aid kits or a baby grooming kit. I typically buy those for the new parents because it seems like an appropriate gift for a pediatrician to give, however, it comes with some advice. First, the bulb suction that the hospital gives you is the best one. You can buy whatever brand you want in the pharmacy, use an electric one, or suck it out with your mouth, but you will never be as successful as you are with that hospital bulb suction so don’t lose it! Second, the thermometer you buy should be a rectal thermometer and besides that, I don’t know what brand is best. You should learn how to use it and don’t hesitate to check a temperature if you are concerned. Third, nothing will be as terrifying as trying to cut your newborn’s fingernails for the first time. You will be amazed at how long his/her nails are at only a few days of life and how tiny they appear when you hold up that nail clipper next to them. If you don’t think you can do it, stick to the nail file. These pieces of advice aren’t things I learned as a pediatrician but rather in the trenches of motherhood. These are the lessons that you learn between cleaning spit-up off your pajamas at 3AM and wiping poop off your arm while wrestling a tiny diaper and curiously strong, kicking newborn legs.
So if you see me outside my office and start reading my labels, ask me what I think of the products before assuming they are pediatrician approved. There are many things that I have bought and love, but there are others that don’t hold up or were gifted and shouldn’t be copied. I believe that any pediatrician has an important role in helping parents navigate the complex world of children’s products and I enjoy having these discussions with patients and friends, but know that we often don’t know more than our own experiences or the anecdotes of our patients. I am happy to give my recommendations, which may be pediatrician approved but more importantly are mommy-tested.
[Disclaimer: The above is based on my own opinions and does not constitute medical advice. Please talk to your health care provider about what is best for your child.]