Monthly Archives: March 2009

Show Me Your Belly Button: On Toddler Speech Development

“My 2 year old doesn’t talk!  What can I do doctor?”

A recent day in my clinic revealed why speech and language are the source of much anxiety for the parents of toddlers.

My first patient of the day was a very cute 17-month-old girl. As I walked in the room she demanded to “Color!  Color!  Color!”  This budding artist was also investigating her body parts, as well as those of others.  After I examined her abdomen she pointed to her umbilicus and proudly proclaimed “Beeeyyeee Buuuooon”.  

Then she toddled over to me happily.  She wanted, apparently, to see my beeeyyeee buuuuoon (belly button) and was determined in this pursuit.  I am accustomed to being caressed/attacked by an explorative toddler but her mother was quite embarrassed by her groping.  I reassured her mother that her socially-engaged use of language was not only age-appropriate, but actually quite precocious.   Continue reading


Filed under Growth and Development, Toddlers

Mind the Gap


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A Fast Cure for Diaper Rash

Red, inflamed, irritated skin in the diaper area:  oh no!  

Diaper rash is a common problem for infants and toddlers, and can be very worrying and frustrating to parents.  And when the wee one is screaming in pain with every diaper change, parents are desperate for a cure–and fast.  After a quick lesson on the cause of diaper rash, treating and preventing this frustrating condition is no sweat!

Most diaper rash starts as an irritant dermatitis:  the skin that is exposed to urine and stool gets irritated and raw.  (“Dermatitis” means inflammation of the skin.)   Continue reading


Filed under Common Illnesses, Newborns and Infants

Drowning in a Field of Daisies: What a Way to Go….


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To the Bath!

How often should you bathe your baby?

Some parents bathe their baby once a day, others once a week.
My opinion?  
  • Keep them debris-free and smelling good. When they stink, bathe them.  When you can see the grunge, bathe them.  They may only need a full bath once a week.
  • Keep the tender and hidden parts clean with gentle wiping between baths:  focus on the diaper area, neck folds, and arm pits.
  • Baths can be a bonding and soothing experience for tired and frazzled parents and their babies.  Treat bathing your baby like a trip to the spa for you and your baby, and head to the spa whenever you need a bit of respite or calm.
  • Most importantly, prioritize your own care before baths: do not sacrifice sleep and eating in order to give your baby a daily bath.  You can’t be a good parent without taking care of yourself.

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Filed under Newborns and Infants

Calgon, Take Me Away….


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Teething Woes: Tools to Soothe Teething Pain

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.

  1. She had been using conventional formula.  In fact, she did not even know that there was organic formula!
  2. 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?
  3. 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

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Filed under General Commentary, Newborns and Infants

I Have No Idea Where the Tomato Went!


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Green with… Poop? When to Worry About Green Stools in Infants

This St. Patty’s day I got not one but three inquiries from worried moms whose babies were celebrating the day by wearing green: in their diapers.

Green stools are often a source of concern for parents of infants and children.  Usually, however, this common finding is nothing to fret about.  

What is poo (poop, stool, number two…) supposed to be like?  

During the newborn period, stools are usually yellow and seedy, especially those of breastfed infants.  How the body takes white creamy liquid milk from mom and turns it into something that *so* resembles seedy mustard is remarkable to me. But it does.

Sometimes, however, for reasons that we don’t always understand, the poo is a different color.  Stool color in a normal healthy infant can vary from day to day or week to week.  Some days may be green and some brown.  The green can range from deep dark forest green to jungle khaki to a nearly fluorescent yellow-green color that seems truly improbable. Continue reading

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Filed under Common Illnesses, Newborns and Infants

Not Rocket Science

After his mom told me that he had coughed for a month, my 4-year-old patient said to me today, with great glee, “And I have snot rockets!” 

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Filed under Kids Say the Darndest Things