The advice that surprises my friends
5 topics that come up ALL the time
I started this social media account because I often share advice with my friends, and I thought sharing my advice publicly would be useful to others who may not have a pediatrician mom friend.
For this newsletter, I am a bit tired of thinking about coronavirus and talking about masks and vaccines. If you’ve read my past few newsletters, you probably know where I stand, pro-vaccine and pro-rational reopening as rates come down. And yes, I am annoyed about the idea of masking more at camp this summer when adults and counselors have been vaccinated, but I’m not going to talk about that today.
Instead, I am doing a round up of the 5 things I often tell my friends that surprise them.
It’s past time to stop using benadryl. What if baby has an allergic reaction? Zyrtec is better. What if my child has sensitivity to pollen, congestion and itchy eyes during seasons, Zyrtec is better. Benadryl’s side effect profile is such that Pediatric Allergy specialist David Stukus recently summed it up by saying, “If benadryl was up for FDA approval today, it would not be approved.” There are safer more effective alternatives. In 2019, I wrote something about this for business insider, putting Benadryl on the list of what I would NOT include in an emergency kit, but people even in the medical community aren’t embracing this one. Another pediatrician Dr. Boucher interviewed Dr. Stukus this week on his podcast Raising Good Parents, so check it out if you need convincing.
Many parts of your body are self-cleaning. Anatomy and biology are just amazing. The ears, the foreskin, the vagina. Don’t use q-tips to clean the ears, forcibly retract the foreskin or use any specialized products to clean the vagina. All of these can cause harm and don’t serve a benefit. I posted about q-tips in my stories and got so many adults saying, “what? I thought we were supposed to.” Nope. Pulling back the foreskin of uncircumcised babies and kids causes far more harm than good. Just let it be!
Mineral sunscreen is better than chemical sunscreen. Oxybenzone and other chemicals in sunscreen are absorbed in the blood stream in small but detectable amounts. Though they are suspected to damage coral reefs, we don’t know of specific dangers to the health of our children. For older kids, I’d prefer any child or adult use chemical sunscreen to reapply than to skip reapplying so if that’s your go to at the beach I don’t think you have to toss it! Similarly, I would rather an infant have sunscreen on than a sunburn, so I do use zinc based sunscreen on babies even under six months when they are exposed (after maximizing sun shirts etc). Zinc is after all the same ingredient as diaper cream.
A high fever by itself isn’t dangerous. Even a 106. What matters more than the number is the way your child looks, difficulty breathing, dehydration, confusion or changes in mental status are things to keep an eye out for. Serious spontaneous bacterial illnesses (ie sepsis or having bacteria enter the bloodstream or bacterial meningitis) can cause an abrupt high fever but are all very rare in vaccinated children over two months of age. So when children have a high fever more often than not it’s a virus. Kids can suffer serious consequences from overheating in hot environments like if left in a car, but in normal temperature ranges, fevers will not reach a level to cause brain damage. Medicines for fever should be used for comfort (never wake a sleeping child for it!), and even when dozed appropriately they may only lead to a 2 degree drop. I wrote more about this on instagram yesterday.
Rear facing is safer - especially between 2-3 years of age. The disproportionately heavy head makes accidents dangerous to the spine of young kids. The children’s legs aren’t uncomfortable (in fact, dangling legs are likely more uncomfortable). Kids can be trained to climb in themselves even rearfacing! Children still get carsick forward facing. You don’t have to commit to doing it until 6, but don’t rush away from rear-facing. More here on this from my favorite car seat expert Dr. Alisa The Car Seat Lady.
I hope this was helpful and let me know if there were any big surprises. I have a bunch of meetings this week about my next book so send some of your positive vibes my way.
I am excited to be participating in the Cycle for Survival fundraising event for Memorial Sloane Kettering’s research into rare cancers. As the survivor of a rare cancer, I believe it’s an important cause, and I’d love it if you’d consider donating or joining my team and participating in the virtual exercise festivities on 5/15. 100% of the donations go directly to the research and if 1500 people sign up Tag Heuer is donating 1.5 million dollars! You can find the link to donate/join here and if your want to join my team the password is “kidscan”. Thanks for considering!