The mother of one of my patients, who herself is a doctor (a specialist in pediatric infectious diseases), walked into my office the other day saying: “I’ve just realized that I have been killing my child.”
What could make this mother fear for the health of her 6-month-old child, despite the excellent care of two well-trained pediatricians (his mother and me, if I may be so presumptuous)? A gaggle of well-meaning but very opinionated mothers at a baby shower. Here are the things that my friend realized she was doing wrong. Terribly wrong.
- She had been using conventional formula. In fact, she did not even know that there was organic formula!
- She had used baby wipes on her son’s bottom from the minute he was born. She learned that this habit might be suspect when a seasoned mother gave a pack of 20 small washcloths to the mom-to-be, saying “Since you can’t use baby wipes until babies are two months old, you’ll need a lot of these!” Who knew?
- She had just bought several teething rings (on sale!) at Target. “But didn’t you hear that those have been recalled?” “What if he bites them and then the liquid comes out and he swallows it! It causes cancer. Or some kind of infection. Anyway, it’s toxic!” Apparently, every good mother knows that teething babies are supposed to have–you guessed it–a teething giraffe. Silly her.
When my friend came to me asking for advice about these other mothers’ recommendations, what did I suggest? No more baby showers.
In reality, however, there is no way of avoiding bits (gobs,really) of parenting advice. So, in the face of conflicting information about how to care for babies, my real advice is to do a little research, use your intuition, and trust yourself. And ask an expert (your pediatrician) if you still have concerns.
To start, here’s the lowdown on safely relieving pain and suffering during teething. Posts about choosing formula and soothing your baby’s bum are forthcoming. Continue reading