Have you ever wondered if that temperature on your little one is worrisome enough to go to the doctor? Or what are some things you can do at home to ease your little one’s cold symptoms? Or when is it time to wean your little one off the bottle?
I had the pleasure of chatting with a fellow physician, Dr. Jamila Fletcher, about these topics and more. Dr. Fletcher is a Raleigh Mom and pediatrician with Raleigh Children and Adolescent Medicine in Brier Creek Medical Pavilion. She was kind enough to share some of her top parenting tips at each age.
Top Parenting Tips From a Raleigh Mom & Pediatrician
RMB: Dr. Fletcher, thanks for speaking with us today! To start things off, what is the number one piece of advice you have for all us Raleigh Moms?
Dr. Fletcher: One size doesn’t fit all! Each child is different, each family is different. Parents are the experts on their own kids, and we as pediatricians rely on them. Sometimes mommies don’t feel confident in their mommy intuition. Don’t downplay your importance as parents. Before a fever in a newborn, for example, there may be a change in feeding schedules that only the mom might notice. Knowing that can make a difference in the next steps we take for that baby.
Trusted Online Sources
RMB: Mommy intuition is such a key concept. It does take time to be confident in that. What are some reliable, trusted online resources you recommend for moms in the middle of the night?
Dr. Fletcher: Here are a few good sources:
- Healthychildren.org – Run by the American Academy of Pediatrics and searchable by topic
- CDC.gov – an excellent resource for information on infection and vaccines
- CHOP Vaccine Education Center – For families unsure if vaccines are right for them, this is a very reliable source that is honest and open in discussing the topic.
Tips for Infancy to High School
RMB: If you could give us one tip for each major age range in our children, what would it be?
Dr. Fletcher: Absolutely. Here are some tips for parenting all the way from infancy to high school:
- Infant: The routine should be feed-play-sleep. Initially, parents want to play-feed-sleep in that order, but just making that slight switch and separating feeding from sleeping can make all the difference in successful sleep training.
- Toddler: The critical period at age 12 months is when it is time to wean that bottle. If they are drinking too much milk, that can put them at risk for anemia. Toddlers can also become picky eaters if all their calories come from milk. Dental decay is another issue with using the bottle past 12 months.
- Preschool: My top tip for potty training is the “double void.” Before the bedtime routine (bath, books, etc) have the child pee, and then right before bed, have them pee again. Add a sticker chart or incentive that works well to continue to motivate them.
- Kindergarten: At this age, their days are longer and sleep is so important. I recommend sticking to the 3 B’s for bedtime: brush teeth, then read books then go to bed.
- Age 7-9: Obesity can start at this young age and it’s something we see quite often. I recommend something colorful on every plate (like fruits and vegetables). If the child asks for a second helping, give the fruit or veggie as the additional portion, not carbs. And milk or water, no juice or soda!
- Preteen: Kids at this age tend to have that “preteen angst” and are trying to figure themselves out. I recommend you talk to them – eat dinner together. It can feel like pulling teeth to get information out of them, but this is so important as they try to understand themselves. Talk about your day, what was good, what was bad and what you wish you could change. Encourage them to do the same.
- Early teens: Limit and monitor phone use. There are so many different ways to monitor them, whether you use an app, or friend them on social media. Those phones charging under pillows at night can lead to severe sleep disturbances, so get an old-fashioned alarm clock and charge mobile devices in the kitchen.
- High school: Now this is a touchy piece of advice to swallow, especially for our generation of parents, but let your kids fail in a safe way so they can learn from their mistakes. Professors are seeing an increase in anxiety in college kids because they can’t make decisions on their own. Let your high school aged child build confidence by making their own decisions.”
RMB: Thank you for these very informative tips! Before we wrap up, tell us, what would you say is your most misunderstood recommendation as a momma doc?
Dr. Fletcher: Vaccines. They are such a huge part of what we do. These are the #1 thing we can do to increase our life expectancy, and they have been so misunderstood. From celebrities to theories on the internet, everyone wants to stick with what’s natural and they think the natural way to boost your immune system is to get sick. Our job as pediatricians is to educate people that some infections can make totally healthy kids so sick they don’t bounce back, and that vaccines prevent devastating, life-changing complications. I have to protect those unvaccinated newborns who are too young to get all their shots, so I know how dangerous things can be in the unvaccinated world. My parting advice to someone on the fence about vaccines for their child is to have an open and honest conversation with your pediatrician.