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Thursday, November 25, 2010

To My Girls...

Dear Girls:

Today is Thanksgiving.  This week, in your (home) school, you have been making art projects with turkeys and talking about pilgrims.  But really, this holiday is about giving THANKS.

You will never know a day without a home.  You will never feel unsafe and be without the comfort of your own bed.  Although you may not eat some nights, you will never go hungry.  You may not get every single toy you "need" when you see a commercial, but you will never know what it truly means want.  You will always have your Mommy and Daddy cheering for you [loudly] in the corner.  You have been, and will continue to be, surrounded by a family that loves and supports you.  And that will never, ever change.

But today, I hope you can understand that what you have is so very rare.  There are people out there that work so hard and still cannot provide for their family.  There are families out there who do not have a comfy home and have to stay out in the cold without "feet" jammies.  There are children who don't have enough food and don't have access to the food that "makes you strong for the monkey bars".  There are people who don't have families and have to eat alone tonight on Thanksgiving.

So, today, I will try to help you understand that you are blessed.  And we are blessed to have you.  And we should be thankful for that.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers and The Doctor Mom "fans"!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I was recently on vacation with my 2 girls.  And each of their iPhones.  I survived the flight and many nice evenings out in restaurants with my newly (perfectly) behaved children.  Now, you may think that is utterly ridiculous OR... you may understand because your children have their own phones/ipads/computers.  I am aware that, as with everything else in life, these phones are a double edged sword.  They are a fabulous distractor in times of need.  You have games and videos at your fingertips.  But user beware, they are HIGHLY addictive to all toddlers.

Well, apparently I am not alone.  There has been a flurry of recent articles in the mainstream media about children using technology.  The bottom line is even the most expert psychologists don't know whether to tout the iPhone as a fabulous learning tool for children or something more sinister.

Click below for 2 insightful articles on the subject of kids and iPhones:
USA TODAY: "Parents Worry About Toddlers Tiny Fingers Itching for iPhones"
NY TIMES:  "Toddlers Favorite Toy: The iPhone"

But, the real point of this post is to say that I am on board with iPhone "learning", because for me, now, there is NO TURNING BACK.  So, instead, I will impart my "research" into the best Toddler and Preschool Apps, so you can learn from all of my searching and wasted monies.

Works on counting, colors, numbers, letters and even some  puzzles mixed in. Stickers used as rewards.
A puzzle game that has plenty of great free puzzles of common objects (ie guitar and truck).

Clever app.  Starts with a picture of a balloon, you blow into the bottom of the phone and it blows up, then shake the phone to change the balloon into an animal.  Push on the animal it moves; and then you can pump it up until it bursts.  Great app, but beware, my toddler spit into the phone so much that it didn’t charge well for a while.
(also a lite version)
Provides hours of toddler entertainment!  Start by picking the wrapper for your cupcakes, then pick from more than 10 different batters.  Put the cupcakes in the oven to bake and then the fun begins.  Choose from many different frostings, toppings and even candles that you can light and blow out.  You can then eat the cupcake (virtually).   Pros: no calories.  Cons:  you make delicious cupcakes that you may wish
you could really eat.
Start by selecting a picture from your phone (or take a new one).  Then you can pick from many different PBS characters and objects to add to the picture and finish it off with a cute frame.  My kids save these to the photo library or you can email them.
Another cute puzzle game that reminds me of the Melissa and Doug puzzles we have at home.  My 2 year old loves this one.
Pretty self explanatory; starts with a blob of color and you can change all the body parts to make a cute and wacky creature!
This one is great because there a bit of learning involved.  A bunch of different shapes (or colors) are presented and the game asks you to identify the correct one.  Rewards with stickers.
A FREE matching game
This one has 8 different types of skills ranging from colors to typing and is great.  Makes cute noises too.
This one is great for the 4-year-old (preschool) crowd.  Starts with a letter and a train moves and shows them how to trace both upper and lower case letters with their finger.

Now go...get to the App Store!
Are your kids iToddlers?
Come on...Join in the conversation...
Tell me about your favorite apps below!

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Scoop on Poop...

With a rush of new babies being born both in my medical practice and in my personal circle, the questions about poop begin.  Along with sleep, it seems to be the most talked about subject by parents of newborn babies.  In fact, even with parents of young kids, poop seems to be a very popular subject. 

There may be too much of it.  It may be loose.  It is always smelly.  It can be green, yellow, black or brown.  It may be like a ball or a gooey mustard seed-like mess.  Sometimes it doesn’t come, for days.
But whatever its consistency, it seems to cause much distress. 

So, don't STRESS...
Let’s start with the beginning….

When babies are born the first type of poop that is passed is called MECONIUM.  Meconium is the black tar like poop; it is made up of all sorts of different debris like dead skin cells, hair and amniotic fluid that was swallowed by the baby in utero.  Some babies can pass meconium in the amniotic fluid prior to being born (usually babies that come late); which can cause some problems in the newborn period.  But most babies do not do this and will pass the 1st meconium stool within the first 24 hours of life.  This is the ONLY type of black stool which is NORMAL, other black stool later can signify digested blood (or can be seen in patients taking iron supplements).

After the initial passage of meconium, breast fed baby's poop changes to a soft, runny mustard seed like consistency that some parents confuse with diarrhea (because it is so loose).  Most breast fed babies poop with each feed for the first couple (2-4) weeks of life.  Stool frequency tends to drop off quite quickly after the first 2 weeks of life in breast fed babies and then can BE AS INFREQUENTLY AS ONCE EVERY 2 WEEKS.   This is the cause of much stress and distress by parents because their baby went from a “frequent stooler” to an "infrequent stooler" and the question of constipation and colic arises (see below).  It is very uncommon for a breast fed infant to be constipated, so do not stress if they are not pooping every day.

Formula fed babies can have a variety of different stools, but they are usually tan colored and soft, and should be no thicker than a peanut butter type consistency.  Stool in formula fed babies can vary, but in general, most babies after the first month will poop 1-2 times per day.  The key here is: IF YOU CHANGE WHAT IS GOING IN, YOU WILL CHANGE WHAT IS COMING OUT.  So, if you switch from breast to formula or change formulas, the consistency of the poop will change too, and that is NORMAL.  Formula fed infants are more likely than breast fed infants to become constipated, so be on the lookout for hard stools. 

When your child begins solids, their poop will again change.  By this time, stools should be fairly consistent, but again, will vary between children.  Poop will change fairly frequently depending on what is fed.  Click here for a picture of solid food poop (in case you are faint of heart).  Sometimes you may see pieces of digested food in poop that can even look like blood.  Also, beware of blueberries; kids can eat a ton of these and get a dark purple or black colored poop that looks kind of scary!

Is it Constipation?  Is it Colic?

Once there is a decrease in the frequency of infant stools parents naturally wonder if their child is constipated.  The answer is usually NO.  Constipation is NOT defined by how frequently you poop, but rather what the stool looks like when it comes.  If it is soft and mushy, this is NORMAL.  Even if it is once a week.  Do not sweat it.  You don't need suppositories, prune juice or the rectal thermometer; all you need is patience.  Your child is only considered constipated if the stool coming out looks like dried out balls of poop (which is UNCOMMON in newborns).

Now on colic or fussiness and its relation to poop:
Unfortunately, the frequency of a baby’s poop slows down at the same time where babies are “waking up” and becoming more alert.  Parents often make the association between less frequent stools and fussiness, but the relationship is likely NOT causative, it just happens at the same time. 

On drawing the legs up and crying:

I frequently hear from parents that their baby appears uncomfortable, cries, grunts and draws up their legs when they poop.  This is actually NORMAL and PHYSIOLOGIC.  When adults go to the bathroom, they sit on the toilet with their legs bent at 90 degrees and bear down to have a bowel movement.  Well, we all know that babies don't (consciously) know how to do this.  So, what they do is draw up their legs (like sitting on the toilet), which lowers the rectum; and cry or grunt, which increases the intra-abdominal pressure (like bearing down).  This is the only way they know how to pass stool.  So, it is not that they are uncomfortable, it is that the crying actually gets the poop out.  In fact, if you feel like your baby is having a hard time having a bowel movement, you can help them by rubbing their tummy and drawing up their legs for them. 

Now that we know about NORMAL poop...stay tuned for an upcoming posting on ABNORMAL poop....