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It is not uncommon for parents and children to experience some anxiety around visiting the pediatrician. Whether it is the first visit or the 15th, we as parents may not know exactly what to expect.


Sometimes a combination of factors play into how smoothly or rocky the visit goes. There are some ways we can ensure a smoother visit, and there are other tricks that we can use to help relieve the stress during and after the visit.

(Please note, however, that if your child has experienced an extreme medical procedure or you believe that your child has had medical trauma, then consultation with a mental health professional is recommended, as this would be beyond the scope of this article).

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Before the visit

1. Choose the best fit

Taking advantage of the ability to meet with a doctor prior to even having your child, and finding out who may be a good fit for your family can help in the long-run. If you have already chosen a pediatrician, but then realized that the doctor is not the best fit, then you may want to either address your concerns or find a better match.

You want to make sure you feel good about the person providing information and guidance for your child’s medical care and can feel comfortable in asking questions and bringing up your worries. Doctors have spent years in training, but they too are human and can make errors, misdiagnose or give information that is not current.

So know that while your doctor may have a wealth of knowledge and give you certain directions, if you feel that this is not in the best interest of your child, you can at least request a second opinion.

2. Scheduling

This may sound obvious, but in the hustle and bustle of managing multiple responsibilities we may choose what is most convenient for us over what might be best for our children’s schedule without even realizing it… like scheduling the doctor’s visit right around nap time. (Uh-oh.)

Most of us, if not all of us, have tried to take our tired child somewhere near when they were due for a nap—it’s just not pleasant for either party involved. When possible, try to schedule the appointments for times you know your child will be rested and in a good mood. (Of course nap time can be unpredictable for some children as they are developing rather quickly and constantly changing, so just do your best.)

3. Breathe

Try to stay calm because your infant or child can sense your anxiety. Even the way we hold them can show them how much tension we are carrying in our body. Keeping positive thoughts in mind, while practicing some slow, deep breaths can help.

4. Explain

Be honest with your child and let them know what you will be doing. For example, “We are going to the doctor’s office, so that they can check your body to make sure you are healthy.”

Talking about vaccinations or having blood drawn with little ones can be tricky. I suggest using your intuition in addressing your child’s needs. For my daughter, I know that talking about it in advance and telling her how I can help her will prepare her recover more quickly and understand the purpose. For instance, “The nurse is going to poke your arm so that we can make sure you are healthy. I will be there to help you.”

Using a toy doctor’s kit can help them become familiar with the procedures that will occur (e.g., checking heart rate, breathing, ears, and mouth). There are books that review doctor’s visits. I love the chapter in the Daniel Tiger 5-Minute Stories book where Daniel visits the doctor and Mom and Daniel Tiger create a book and talk about the many things that will occur at the visit.

During the visit:

1. Remain present and attuned

Do your best to tune into what your child may be experiencing, whether it be stress or fear, and find a way to support your child through that experience. I know it is not easy to see your child cry and we want to help them stop, but we can’t control their feelings. We can only reassure them that we are there for them and will keep them safe.

2. Explain again

I love when I hear the pediatrician explaining what they are going to do and actually ask my child for permission before touching her body. This is like music to my ears as a psychologist, as I am working hard to teach my child that her body is exactly that, her body. (Note: this lesson is not unique to girls. All children need to be made aware of their rights, so that they can tell someone to “stop” when it is needed or when they feel uncomfortable).

Your child may be feeling a lot of stress as they are in a new place or seeing an unfamiliar face and being told they need to sit on a scale all by themselves, so let them know what is to come and what is happening in that moment.

3. Reassure

This will be in the form of your body language, such as hugs and rubs on the back, along with your words and tone. Your child will need you to help them co-regulate, as they currently depend on you to help them soothe their anxiety.

4. Address concerns

It can be easy to feel that the medical professional’s statements hold more weight than your thoughts or opinions, but remember, they are human too. You are your child’s biggest advocate, so be sure to ask questions and express your worries, even if you are afraid that you might sound silly.

Your child’s doctor should be able to talk you through their thinking and you should feel good with the decision. If you are getting a funny feeling in your gut, listen to it and just pause. Most decisions don’t have to be made that instant, so breathe and take a moment to decide your next steps.

After the visit

The process will even continue after the doctor’s visit, especially if something new occurred at your most recent visit.

1. Support

Continue to help your child express the feelings they just had and remind them of the positive factors, such as you being there to help them.

2. Validate

Validate the experience that your child expressed or is continuing to express, as your child needs to know that their feelings are okay and that they are not unlovable for having fears or crying.

3. Play!

Your child may play the day’s events out once you get home. If you tune in, you will see your cue to bring out that doctor’s kit or let them use whatever toys they wish so they can show you what happened from their perspective. You may be surprised by what they end up showing you and how they heard your voice all through those cries.

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Is there anything cuter than adorable hairstyles on kids? We love when little ones look put together and a chic hairstyle is the icing on a cake.Mamas have upped their game and are delivering trendy, inspo-worthy looks beyond basic ponytails.

We get that creating no-fuss hairstyles (preferably ones that don't require toddlers sitting more than 10 minutes) isn't exactly stress-free and shelling out cash for a stylist isn't something we'll spring for. But we're all about easy styles that we can practically create with our eyes closed. Say hello to getting out the door faster! To be fair, there are a few here that are a tad complicated, so you'll want to screenshot them and share with your mama friend who is a master stylist.

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To help you nail the best kid hairstyles, we've compiled a list of 41 cool hairstyles for little ones from Instagram:

Pigtail buns

This classic style never gets old. If you're concerned about it being too light, loosen it up a bit by adding volume at the roots.






Criss-cross braids

Add a touch of style to a traditional braid.






Top knot

When rushing and don't have time, just throw up their hair in a top bun.



Side braided ponytail

After a few hours on the playground, braids tend to end up on the side of their heads, so why not create it into a style?



Cornrows

We're not going to front—cornrows are tough to create. But if you can get it, it's a style that will last weeks. Need help? Check out these YouTube videos.






Waterfall braids

To add a little more pizazz to a regular braid, braid hair on the side and loosen it a bit at the root.




Triple buns

A bun is probably the easier hairstyle a mama can create, but throw in a dash of style by adding two more bun. Create the look by securing buns from the top of the head to the nape of the neck.








Bun + bows

Add a bow for instant fun.









Lifestyle

When the Coronavirus (COVID-19) started making headlines in early 2020 the expert advice was simple: Don't panic.

This week the CDC warned that the outbreaks of the virus will very likely happen in the United States, but it's important to know that officials still don't want parents to panic, they just want us to be prepared.

"We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad," the Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, told reporters during a news briefing Tuesday. "It's not so much of a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more of a question of exactly when this will happen," Dr. Messonnier said.

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It is totally normal to read this and be concerned mama, but there are several things we need to unpack before we let our anxiety overwhelm us.

Here is what you need to know about the Coronavirus response in the United States:

Top doctors are preparing for this

As the virus has spread rapidly overseas America's top doctors have been monitoring the situation. In not quite two months' time 80,000 people have contracted the illness and fewer than 3,000 of those people have died.

In the U.S., 53 cases have been confirmed (most of those were passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined off the coast of Japan or people who caught the virus while traveling overseas). There have only been two cases of person-to-person transmission on U.S. soil, according to the CDC.

The CDC has more than 1,000 professionals working on the response to this virus, including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, epidemiologists, veterinarians, laboratorians, communicators, data scientists and modelers.

"CDC staff members are working with state, local, tribal, and territorial health departments and other public health authorities to assist with case identification, contact tracing, evaluation of persons under investigation (PUI) for COVID-19, and medical management of cases; and with academic partners to understand the virulence, risk for transmission, and other characteristics of this novel virus," the agency states on its website.

And while there have been delays in implementing Coronavirus testing measures in the Unites States, experts are working to resolve issues and make testing more efficient. As the New York Times reports, the health and human services secretary "told a Senate panel that federal and local health departments will need as many as 300 million masks for health care workers."

In other words, the experts in the United States are preparing to fight this virus and they want the American public to be prepared, too.

This could impact school, work and daily life

That's why the CDC is telling us to get ready, not to cause panic or anxiety but just to set the expectation that life could be disrupted by this virus. "Now is the time for businesses, hospitals, communities, schools and everyday people to begin preparing," Dr. Messonnier said Tuesday.

She says schools may have to close or otherwise adjust to an outbreak and students may have to start doing tele-schooling online. She also wants businesses to start preparing to hold meetings remotely rather than in-person and to encourage telecommuting during any outbreak. Community activities like sports and church may also have to be canceled or modified.

As the New York Times reports, "Scientists don't know who is most susceptible to the new coronavirus. Children seem less likely to be infected. Middle-aged men seem to have been disproportionately infected, according to some studies."

This could be really disruptive for families

It is true that the scenario Messonnnier is outlining could be really disruptive for families. No one wants this to happen, but if it does have to happen it's a good thing we are getting the heads up.

Here are some steps you can take to prepare for possible interruptions to daily life:

  • Talk to your workplace about any plans it has for operations during an outbreak.
  • Speak to your child's school or childcare provider about how it plans to operate in a worst-case scenario.
  • Ask your doctor for an extra prescription of any medications your family needs, just in case an outbreak makes going to the pharmacy not possible.

Here's how to protect yourself + your family from the Coronavirus

The CDC does not recommend that we all go buy face masks. Face masks are only recommended for people "who show symptoms of COVID-19...[and] health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility)."

Instead, here's what we can all do to avoid the illness, according to the CDC:

  • "Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe."

We know this is serious and kind of scary, mama. But please, don't panic. Know that pandemic experts are working to keep your family safe. According to the CDC, the "National Institutes of Health (NIH) and their collaborators are working on development of candidate vaccines and therapeutics for COVID-19."

On Tuesday, President Trump said the coronavirus is "very well under control in our country" and "is going to go away." The health experts who work for the government are doing everything they can to prove the President right, but they do want the public to be ready in case it doesn't go away as fast as he (and all of us) would like.

News

For nine months, your mother was all you knew.

Before I held you in my arms, your mother held you and never let you go.

Before I sacrificed time for you, your mother gladly sacrificed her body.

Before I consoled you when you were upset, your mother consoled you with just the beat of her heart.

Before I comforted you when you were restless, your mother comforted you with just the sound of her voice.

Before I could do anything for you, your mother gave everything for you.

Your mother is the reason I hold you today.

Before you were even a twinkle in my eye, you were in your mother's heart. Your life, your safety, and your very existence depended on her. Something I'll never be able to repay.

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It will take a long time for you to understand the weight, the depth and the immeasurability of your mother's love for you. But someday, when you have children of your own, you will understand what I now see so clearly.

So, I'll hold you tight. But I'll hold your mother tighter because my love for you grows the more I understand the measure of a mother's love.


This essay was previously published here.
Life

What would bath time be without rubber duckies? Probably not as much fun—but also a whole lot cleaner, according to a study published in the journal Biofilms and Microbiomes.

That's because it turns out those squeaky toys are far from squeaky clean thanks to “potentially pathogenic bacteria" in four out of the five bath toys examined by researchers.

For the study, Swiss and American researchers looked at the biofilm communities inside 19 bath toys collected from random households as well as six toys used in controlled clean or dirty water conditions. They found that all of the examined bath toys “had dense and slimy biofilm" on their inner surfaces. What's more, 56% of the real-use toys and all of the dirty-water toys had fungi build up. ?

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Although the researchers note exposure to bacteria and fungi may have some benefits, the strong existence of grime in bath toys is still concerning. They note, “Squeezing water with chunks of biofilm into their faces (which is not unexpected behavior for these users) may result in eye, ear, wound or even gastro-intestinal tract infections."

Besides tossing all your bath toys, what can parents do?

The researchers say more experimental work is needed. But, for starters, it doesn't hurt to remove water from the toys after usage or give them a good, regular dunk in boiling water. The researchers also said they would like to see more regulations on the polymeric materials used for many bath toys.

There is, however, one simple solution—it just comes at the cost of rubber duckie's squeak. “In fact, the easiest way to prevent children from being exposed to bath toy biofilms is to simply close the hole," the researchers say of toys like this water-tight duck. “But where is the fun in that?"

[A version of this post originally appeared April 13, 2018. It has been updated.]

News
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