Baby Care Questions

To Grandmother’s house we go! And you’ll be in the car for five whole hours! How can you make the trip enjoyable with a baby along?

Learn about it

There’s no question: Marathon car trips with a baby on board take a good amount of planning and organization. But it can be done ~ and yes, it can even be fun!

Planning the trip

In the hustle that precedes a trip, it can be easy to let things happen, instead of make things happen. Be proactive in making your trip decisions. Contemplating these questions, and coming up with the right answers, can help make your trip more successful:

Does your baby sleep well in the car? If yes, plan your travel time to coincide with a nap or bedtime so your baby can sleep through part of the journey. If not, plan to leave immediately after a nap or upon waking in the morning. Don’t fool yourself into thinking your baby will behave differently than usual in the car just because it’s a special occasion.

  • Is it necessary to make the trip all at once, or can you break it up with stops along the way? The longer your baby is strapped in the carseat, the more likely he’ll become fussy. Planning a few breaks can keep everyone in a better frame of mind.
  • When estimating an arrival time, have you factored in plenty of extra time for unplanned surprises? A diaper explosion that requires a complete change of clothes or a baby whose inconsolable crying requires an unexpected 20-minute stop are just two of the things that can easily happen.
Do you have everything you need to make the trip pleasant? Items like:
  • Window shades to protect your baby from the sun and create a darker, nap-inducing atmosphere.
  • A cooler for cold drinks; a bottle warmer if needed.
  • Plenty of toys that are new or forgotten favorites saved just for the trip.
  • Baby-friendly music on tape or CD.
  • A rear-view baby mirror to keep on eye on baby (unless a second person will be sitting with your little one)
  • Books to read to your baby.
Preparing the car

Take plenty of time to get the car ready for your trip. If two adults are traveling, consider yourself lucky and arrange for one person to sit in the backseat next to the baby. If you are traveling alone with your little one, you’ll need to be more creative in setting up the car, and you’ll need to plan for more frequent stops along the way.

Here are a few tips for making the car a traveling entertainment center for your baby:
  • Use ribbon or yarn and safety pins or tape to hang an array of lightweight toys from the ceiling of the car to hang over your baby. An alternative is to string a line from one side of the car to the other with an array of toys attached by ribbons. Bring along an assortment of new toys that can be exchanged when you stop the car for a rest. Just be sure to use small toys and keep them out of the driver’s line of view.
  • Tape brightly colored pictures of toys on the back of the seat that your baby will be facing.
  • If no one will be sitting next to your baby and your child is old enough to reach for toys, set up an upside-down box next to the car seat with a shallow box or a tray with ledges on top of it. Fill this with toys that your baby can reach for by himself. You might also shop around for a baby activity center that attaches directly to the carseat.
  • If you plan to have someone sitting next to baby, then provide that person with a gigantic box of toys with which to entertain the little one ~ distraction works wonders to keep a baby happy in the car. One of the best activities for long car rides is book reading. Check your library’s early reading section; it typically features a large collection of baby-pleasing titles in paperback that are easier to tote along than board books.
  • Bring along an assortment of snacks and drinks for your older baby who’s regularly eating solids, and remember to bring food for yourself, too. Even if you plan to stop for meals, you may decide to drive on through if your baby is sleeping or content ~ saving the stops for fussy times.
  • Bring books on tape or quiet music for the adults for times when your baby is sleeping. The voice on tape may help keep your baby relaxed, and it will be something you can enjoy.
  • If you’ll be traveling in the dark, bring along a battery-operated nightlight or flashlight.
Car travel checklist
  • Well-stocked diaper bag
  • Baby’s blanket
  • Carseat pillow or head support
  • Window shades (sun screens)
  • Change of clothes for your baby
  • Enormous box of toys and books
  • Music or books on tape or CDs
  • Baby food, snacks, and drinks for your baby
  • Sipper cups
  • Snacks and drinks for the adults
  • Cooler
  • Wet washcloths in bags, or moist towelettes
  • Empty plastic bags for leftovers and trash
  • Bottle warmer
  • Cell phone
  • Baby’s regular sleep music or white noise (if needed, bring extra batteries)
  • First aid kit/prescriptions/medications
  • Jumper cables
  • Money/wallet/purse/ID
  • Medical and insurance information/emergency phone numbers
  • Maps/driving directions
  • Baby carrier/sling/stroller
  • Camera and film
  • Suitcases
During the journey

If you’ve carefully planned your trip and prepared your vehicle, you’ve already started out on the right foot. Now keep these things in mind as you make your way down the road:

  • Be flexible. When traveling with a baby, even the best-laid plans can be disrupted. Try to stay relaxed, accept changes, and go with the flow.
  • Stop when you need to. Trying to push “just a little farther” with a crying baby in the car can be dangerous, as you’re distracted and nervous. Take the time to stop and calm your baby.
  • Put safety first. Make sure that you keep your baby in his carseat. Many nursing mothers breastfeed their babies during trips. This can be dangerous in a moving car, even if you are both securely belted: You can’t foresee an accident, and your body could slam forcefully into your baby. Instead, pull over and nurse your baby while he’s still in his carseat. That way, when he falls asleep, you won’t wake him up moving him back into his seat.
  • Remember: Never, ever leave your baby alone in the car ~ not even for a minute.
On the way home

You may be so relieved that you lived through your trip that you sort of forget the other trip ahead of you: the trip home. You’ll need to organize the trip home as well as you did the trip out. A few days in advance, make certain that all your supplies are refilled and ready to go. Think about the best time to leave, and plan accordingly. In addition, think about what you learned on the trip to your destination that might make the trip home even easier. Is there something you wish you would have had but didn’t? Something you felt you could have done differently? Did you find yourself saying, “I wish we would have…”? Now’s the time to make any adjustments to your original travel plan so that your trip back home is pleasant and relaxed.

Babies are little bundles of energy! They don’t want to lie still to have their diapers changed. They cry, fuss, or even crawl away. A simple issue can turn into a major tug-of-war between parent and baby.

Diaper changing as a ritual

The position of parent and baby during a diaper change is perfect for creating a bonding experience between you. You are leaning over your baby, and your face is at the perfect arms-length distance for engaging eye contact and communication. What’s more, this golden opportunity presents itself many times during each day; no matter how busy you both get, you have a few moments of quiet connection. It’s too valuable a ritual to treat it as simply maintenance.

Learning about your baby

Diapering offers a perfect opportunity for you to truly absorb your baby’s cues and signals. You’ll learn how his little body works, what tickles him, what causes those tiny goose bumps. As you lift, move, and touch your baby, your hands will learn the map of his body and what’s normal for him. This is important because it will enable you to easily decipher any physical changes that need attention.

Developing trust

Regular diaper changes create rhythm in your baby’s world and afford the sense that the world is safe and dependable. They are regular and consistent episodes in days that may not always be predictable. Your loving touches teach your baby that he is valued, and your gentle care teaches him that he is respected.

A learning experience for your baby

Your baby does a lot of learning during diaper changes. It’s one of the few times that she actually sees her own body without clothes, when she can feel her complete movements without a wad of diaper between her legs. Diaper-off time is a great chance for her to stretch her limbs and learn how they move.

During changing time, your baby is also a captive audience to your voice, so she can focus on what you are saying and how you are saying it — an important component of her language learning process. Likewise, for a precious few minutes, you are her captive audience, so you can focus on what she’s saying and how she is saying it — crucial to the growth of your relationship.

What your baby thinks and feels

Many active babies could not care less if their diapers are clean. They’re too busy to concern themselves with such trivial issues. It may be important to you, but it’s not a priority for your child.

Diaper rash or uncomfortable diapers (wrong size or bad fit) can make him dread diaper changes, so check these first. Once you’re sure all the practical issues are covered, make a few adjustments in this unavoidable process to make it more enjoyable.

Take a deep breath

Given the number of diapers you have to change, it’s possible that what used to be a pleasant experience for you has gotten to be routine, or even worse, a hassle. When parents approach diaper changing in a brisk, no-nonsense way, it isn’t any fun for Baby. Try to reconnect with the bonding experience that diaper changing can be — a moment of calm in a busy day when you share one-on-one time with your baby.

Have some fun

This is a great time to sing songs, blow tummy raspberries, or do some tickle and play. A little fun might take the dread out of diaper changes for both of you. A game that stays fresh for a long time is “hide the diaper.” Put a new diaper on your head, on your shoulder, or tucked in your shirt and ask, “Where’s the diaper? I can’t find it!” A fun twist is to give the diaper a name and a silly voice, and use it as a puppet. Let the diaper call your child to the changing station and have it talk to him as you change it. (If you get tired of making Mister Diaper talk, just remember what it was like before you tried the idea.)

Use distraction

Keep a flashlight with your changing supplies and let your baby play with it while you change him. Some kids’ flashlights have a button to change the color of the light, or shape of the ray. Call this his “diaper flashlight” and put it away when the change is complete. You may find a different type of special toy that appeals to your little one, or even a basket of small interesting toys. If you reserve these only for diaper time, they can retain their novelty for a long time.

Try a stand-up diaper

If your baby’s diaper is just wet (not messy), try letting her stand up while you do a quick change. If you’re using cloth diapers, have one leg pre-pinned so that you can slide it on like pants, or opt for pre-fitted diapers that don’t require pins.

Time to potty train?

If your child is old enough and seems ready for the next step, consider potty training.

Some babies fall asleep almost before you’re out of the driveway, but others won’t spend five happy minutes in their car seats. Usually, this is because your baby is used to more freedom of movement and more physical attention than you can provide when she’s belted into her seat.

Hearing your baby cry while you are trying to drive is challenging. Even though it’s difficult to deal with, remember that you and your baby’s safety are most important. Parents sometimes take a crying baby out of the car seat, which is extremely dangerous and makes it even more difficult for the baby to get used to riding in the car seat. Some parents make poor driving decisions when their babies are crying, which puts everyone in the car at risk. Either pull over and calm your baby down, or focus on your driving. Don’t try to do both.

The good news is that a few new ideas and a little time and maturity will help your baby become a happy traveler. (I know, because three of my babies were car-seat-haters!)

The trip to car seat happiness

Any one (or more) of the following strategies may help solve your car seat dilemma. If the first one you try fails, choose another one, then another; eventually, you’ll hit upon the right solution for your baby.

Make sure that your baby is healthy.

If car seat crying is something new, and your baby has been particularly fussy at home, too, your baby may have an ear infection or other illness. A visit to the doctor is in order.

Bring the car seat in the house and let your baby sit and play in it.

Once it becomes more familiar in the house, she may be happier to sit there in the car. Keep a special box of soft, safe car toys that you’ll use only in the car. If these are interesting enough, they may hold her attention. (Avoid hard toys because they could cause injury in a quick stop.)

Tape or hang toys for viewing.

You can do this on the back of the seat that your baby is facing or string an array of lightweight toys from the ceiling using heavy tape and yarn. Place them just at arm’s reach so that your baby can bat at them from her seat. (Don’t use hard toys that could hurt your baby if they come loose in a quick stop.)

Make a car mobile.

Link a long row of plastic baby chains from one side of the backseat to the other. Clip soft, lightweight new toys onto the chain for each trip. Make sure they are secure and keep on eye on these so that they don’t become loose while you are driving.

Hang a made-for-baby poster on the back of the seat that faces your baby.

These are usually black, white, red and bold primary colors; some even have pockets so you can change the pictures. (Remember to do this, since changing the scenery is very helpful.)

Experiment with different types of music in the car.

Some babies enjoy lullabies or music tapes made especially for young children; others surprise you by calming down as soon as you play one of your favorites. Some babies enjoy hearing Mom or Dad sing, more than anything else! (For some reason, a rousing chorus of “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer” has always been a good choice for us, even out of season!)

Try “white noise” in the car.

You can purchase CDs of soothing nature sounds or you can make a recording of your vacuum cleaner!

Practice with short, pleasant trips when your baby is in a good mood.

It helps if someone can sit near her and keep her entertained. A few good experiences may help set a new pattern.

Try a pacifier or teething toy.

When your baby has something to suck or chew on he may be happier. Just make sure it doesn’t present a choking hazard, and keep to small, soft toys.

Hang a mirror.

That way your baby can see you (and you can see your baby) while you are driving. Baby stores offer specialty mirrors made especially for this purpose. When in her seat, she may think that you’re not there, and just seeing your face will help her feel better.

Put up a sunshade in the window.

This can be helpful if you suspect that sunshine in your baby’s face may be a problem. Use the window-stick-on types, and avoid any with hard pieces that could become dislodged in a quick stop.

Try to consolidate trips.

Trip-chaining is effective, especially if you avoid being in the car for long periods of time, and you don’t have many ins-and-outs.

Make sure your baby hasn’t outgrown her car seat.

If her legs are confined, or her belts are too tight, she my find her seat to be uncomfortable.

Try opening a window.

Fresh air and a nice breeze can be soothing.
If all else fails . . . take the bus!

General Safety Precautions for Co-Sleeping

Throughout my book The No-Cry Sleep Solution, it’s evident that all four of our babies have been welcomed into our family bed. My husband Robert and I have allowed our children to share our bed, and our children have enjoyed sharing a “sibling bed” as well. Of critical importance, however, is the fact that we have followed religiously all known safety recommendations for sharing sleep with our babies.

The safety of bringing a baby into an adult bed has been the subject of much debate in modern society, especially recently. In 1999, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced a recommendation against co-sleeping with a baby under age two. Nevertheless, some polls show that nearly 70% of parents do share sleep with their babies either part or all of the night. Most parents who do choose to co-sleep are avidly committed to the practice and find many benefits in it.

The CPSC’s warning is controversial and has stirred heated debate among parents, doctors, and childhood development experts about the accuracy and appropriateness of the recommendation; many experts believe that the issue demands more research. In the meantime, it is very important that you investigate all the viewpoints and make the right decision for your family. And remember: Even if you decide against sleeping with your infant, you can look forward to sharing sleep with your older baby if that suits your family.

The following safety list, as well as any references to co-sleeping in my book and on this Website, are provided for those parents who have researched this issue and have made an informed choice to co-sleep with their baby. Wherever you choose to have your baby sleep, whether for naps or nighttime, please heed the following recommended safety precautions:

  • Your bed must be absolutely safe for your baby. The best choice is to place the mattress on the floor, making sure there are no crevices that your baby can become wedged in. Make certain your mattress is flat, firm, and smooth. Do not allow your baby to sleep on a soft surface such as a waterbed, sofa, pillowtop mattress, beanbag chair, or any other flexible and yielding structure.
  • Make certain that your fitted sheets stay secure and cannot be pulled loose.
  • If your bed is raised off the floor, use mesh guardrails to prevent baby from rolling off the bed, and be especially careful that there is no space between the mattress and headboard or footboard. (Some guardrails designed for older children are not safe for babies because they have spaces that could entrap tiny bodies.)
  • If your bed is placed against a wall or against other furniture, check every night to be sure there is no space between the mattress and wall or furniture where baby could become stuck.
  • An infant should be placed between his mother and the wall or guardrail. Fathers, siblings, grandparents, and babysitters don’t have the same instinctual awareness of a baby’s location as do mothers. Mothers: Pay attention to your own sensitivity to baby. Your little one should be able to awaken you with a minimum of movement or noise — often even a sniff or snort is usually enough. If you find that you sleep so deeply that you only wake when your baby lets out a loud cry, seriously consider moving baby out of your bed, perhaps into a cradle or crib near your bedside.
  • Use a large mattress to provide ample room and comfort for everyone.
  • Consider a “sidecar” arrangement in which baby’s crib or cradle sits directly beside the main bed.
  • Make certain that the room your baby sleeps in, and any room he might have access to, is childproof. (Imagine your baby crawling out of bed as you sleep to explore the house. Even if he has not done this — yet — you can be certain he eventually will!)
  • Do not ever sleep with your baby if you have been drinking alcohol, if you have used any drugs or medications, if you are an especially sound sleeper, or if you are suffering from sleep deprivation and find it difficult to wake.
  • Do not sleep with your baby if you are a large person, as a parent’s excess weight poses a proven risk to baby in a co-sleeping situation. I cannot give you a specific weight-to-baby ratio; simply examine how you and baby settle in next to each other. If baby rolls towards you, if there is a large dip in the mattress, or if you suspect any other dangerous situations, play it safe and move baby to a bedside crib or cradle.
  • Remove all pillows and blankets during the early months. Use extreme caution when adding pillows or blankets as your baby gets older. Dress baby and yourselves warmly for sleep. (A tip for breastfeeding moms: wear an old turtleneck or t-shirt, cut up the middle to the neckline, as an undershirt for extra warmth.) Keep in mind that body heat will add warmth during the night. Make sure your baby doesn’t become overheated.
  • Do not wear nightclothes with strings or long ribbons. Don’t wear jewelry to bed, and if your hair is long, pin it up.
  • Don’t use strong-smelling perfumes or lotions that may affect your baby’s delicate senses.
  • Do not allow pets to sleep in bed with your baby.
  • Never leave your baby alone in an adult bed unless that bed is perfectly safe for your baby, such as a firm mattress on the floor in a childproof room, and when you are nearby or listening in on baby with a reliable baby monitor.

As of the writing of this book, no proven safety devices exist for use in protecting a baby in an adult bed. However, a number of new inventions are beginning to appear in baby catalogs and stores in answer to the great number of parents who wish to sleep safely with their babies. You may want to look into some of these nests, wedges, cradles, sheet securers, etc.

For more information, please visit:

www.attachmentparenting.org/cosleepwork.shtml

www.drgreene.org/body.cfm?id=21&action=detail&ref=953

www.askdrsears.com/html/10/t102200.asp

www.naturalchild.com/james_mckenna/sleeping_safe.html

Victory for co-sleeping.  A long-time advocate of breastfeeding, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued a revised policy statement on breastfeeding and the importance of mother’s milk. This replaces its existing policy developed in 1997. The new recommendations include this statement: “Mother and infant should sleep in proximity to each other to facilitate breastfeeding.” For more information you can read the release and the policy statement at the AAP Website:http://www.aap.org/advocacy/releases/feb05breastfeeding.htm (The AAP is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians and pediatric specialists.)

Babies love new places! There’s so much to investigate and new things to touch. But many people aren’t too happy to have your little one crawling or toddling freely about the house exploring everything in sight. While you think its adorable that Baby found the Tupperware, your host may not think it’s cute that her tidy cabinet has been rearranged by sticky baby hands. If your host has a big heart she’ll let you know that your baby’s exploring is okay. But even then, you run the risk of your baby breaking or losing something.

Bring toys!

The best thing you can do is bring along a bag of toys to seize your child’s attention. You can purchase new items, or dig through your baby’s toy box to put together a collection of forgotten favorites. Avoid bringing loud toys that may annoy others, and bring toys that will hold your baby’s attention for a long time.

Bring your own supplies

Think about things that keep your baby happy at home or in the car, and bring these with you, such as your sling, a favorite blanket, a Boppy pillow, or a special lovey. If you are prepared, then your baby will be more content.

Safety issues

Visits with a mobile baby are tricky, especially if you’re at a home that isn’t childproof. If you want to avoid physically shadowing your baby around the house, bring a few safety tools, such as outlet plugs and a folding baby gate to section off stairways. When you arrive, assess the area and ask if chemicals, medications, or fragile vases can be put away during your visit. Remember that you’re certain to miss some hazards, so keep a close eye on Baby during your entire visit.

Food and eating

Whether your baby is new to solid food or has been eating it for a while, bring along a few favorites. If you don’t bring snacks with you, your baby may not touch the dinner that’s served and may cry for her favorite crackers. In any case, don’t feel you must push your baby to try something new to the point of a temper tantrum. Politely requesting something simple like toast or cheese is perfectly okay and will be welcomed more than a loud and tense test of parent/child wills.

What if you’re breastfeeding and your baby is hungry?

Do what comes naturally: Feed him! Breastfeeding is the most natural way to feed a baby. If your hosts aren’t used to seeing a mother breastfeed, then you’re doing our world a favor by introducing one more person to the beauty of baby feeding. Be thoughtful about other’s sensitivities. This doesn’t mean you need to hide, but your efforts to be discreet are a courtesy for those around you and may help others feel more comfortable about seeing you breastfeeding your baby. Using a sling, blanket or nursing shirt are easy ways to accomplish this.

Changing Diapers

Bring a changing pad; this will protect the surface you’re using. If you don’t have a pad, ask for a towel. Ask where your host prefers that you change the baby, or suggest a location: “Do you mind if I lay the towel on your bed to change the baby?”

Bring along (or ask to use) plastic bags to store messy diapers. Make sure that they are sealed so that they don’t create odors. If you use disposables, put used diapers in a sealed bag and offer to take them out to the trash. People don’t like stinky diapers in their bathroom trash.

Sleeping and napping

If your little one sleeps in a cradle or crib you may want to bring along a portable crib. If you don’t have one, or if you co-sleep at home, this is a time when “anything goes.” If your baby will sleep in your arms, then go ahead and enjoy an in-arms nap. If your baby is flexible, put a blanket on the floor and set up a sleeping nest. Don’t leave Baby alone, since the area probably isn’t childproof.

A great nap solution is to bring your car seat into the house and strap your baby in securely, or fashion a bed from a large box or an empty dresser drawer. Keep your baby close by or check on her frequently.

For co-sleepers, your first order of business is to create a safe sleeping place. Inspect the furniture placement in the bedroom. If you know that pushing the bed against the wall would make the situation safer for your baby, then politely explain to your host. Let her know that you’ll move it back before you leave (and then remember to do so).

Be prepared for anything

Life with a baby is filled with surprises. Take a deep breath, and do your best to keep your baby content….and if things don’t go as well as you’d hoped, remind yourself that “This too shall pass.”

Show your appreciation

If you’ve had an overnight stay, if your host is helpful, or if you made special requests during your stay, remember to send a thank you note that expresses your appreciation.

Help! I’m getting so frustrated with the endless stream of advice I get from my mother-in-law and brother! No matter what I do, I’m doing it wrong. I love them both, but how do I get them to stop dispensing all this unwanted advice?

Just as your baby is an important part of your life, he is also important to others. People who care about your baby are bonded to you and your child in a special way that invites their counsel. Knowing this may give you a reason to handle the interference gently, in a way that leaves everyone’s feelings intact.

Regardless of the advice, it is your baby, and in the end, you will raise your child the way that you think best. So it’s rarely worth creating a war over a well-meaning person’s comments. You can respond to unwanted advice in a variety of ways:

Listen first

It’s natural to be defensive if you feel that someone is judging you; but chances are you are not being criticized; rather, the other person is sharing what they feel to be valuable insight. Try to listen – you may just learn something valuable.

Disregard

If you know that there is no convincing the other person to change her mind, simply smile, nod, and make a non-committal response, such as, “Interesting!” Then go about your own business…your way.

Agree

You might find one part of the advice that you agree with. If you can, provide wholehearted agreement on that topic.

Pick your battles

If your mother-in-law insists that Baby wear a hat on your walk to the park, go ahead and pop one on his head. This won’t have any long-term effects except that of placating her. However, don’t capitulate on issues that are important to you or the health or well-being of your child.

Steer clear of the topic

If your brother is pressuring you to let your baby cry to sleep, but you would never do that, then don’t complain to him about your baby getting you up five times the night before. If he brings up the topic, then distraction is definitely in order, such as, “Would you like a cup of coffee?”

Educate yourself

Knowledge is power; protect yourself and your sanity by reading up on your parenting choices. Rely on the confidence that you are doing your best for your baby.

Educate the other person

If your “teacher” is imparting information that you know to be outdated or wrong, share what you’ve learned on the topic. You may be able to open the other person’s mind. Refer to a study, book, or report that you have read.

Quote a doctor

Many people accept a point of view if a professional has validated it. If your own pediatrician agrees with your position, say, “My doctor said to wait until she’s at least six months before starting solids.” If your own doctor doesn’t back your view on that issue, then refer to another doctor – perhaps the author of a baby care book.

Be vague

You can avoid confrontation with an elusive response. For example, if your sister asks if you’ve started potty training yet (but you are many months away from even starting the process), you can answer with, “We’re moving in that direction.”

Ask for advice!

Your friendly counselor is possibly an expert on a few issues that you can agree on. Search out these points and invite guidance. She’ll be happy that she is helping you, and you’ll be happy you have a way to avoid a showdown about topics that you don’t agree on.

Memorize a standard response

Here’s a comment that can be said in response to almost any piece of advice: “This may not be the right way for you, but it’s the right way for me.”

Be honest

Try being honest about your feelings. Pick a time free of distractions and choose your words carefully, such as, “I know how much you love Harry, and I’m glad you spend so much time with him. I know you think you’re helping me when you give me advice about this, but I’m comfortable with my own approach, and I’d really appreciate if you’d understand that.”

Find a mediator

If the situation is putting a strain on your relationship with the advice-giver, you may want to ask another person to step in for you.

Search out like-minded friends

Join a support group or on-line club with people who share your parenting philosophies. Talking with others who are raising their babies in a way that is similar to your own can give you the strength to face people who don’t understand your viewpoints.

My baby is only happy when I’m within arm’s reach. If I dare to leave the room, she cries as if I’ve left the country ! I can’t even so much as take a shower these days, let alone leave the house without her. My mother-in-law says it’s because I’ve spoiled her. Is she right? Have I made her so clingy? 

Nothing you’ve done has “made” your baby develop separation anxiety. It’s a perfectly normal and important developmental adaptation. Nearly all children experience separation anxiety between the ages of seven and 18 months. Some have more intense reactions than others, and for some, the stage lasts longer than others, but almost all babies have it to some degree.

The development of separation anxiety demonstrates that your baby has formed a healthy, loving attachment to you. It is a beautiful sign that your baby associates pleasure, comfort, and security with your presence. It also indicates that your baby is developing intellectually (in other words, she’s smart!) She has learned that she can have an effect on her world when she makes her needs known, and she doesn’t have to passively accept a situation that makes her uncomfortable. She doesn’t know enough about the world yet to understand that when you leave her you’ll always come back. She also realizes that she is safest, happiest, and best cared for by you, so her reluctance to part makes perfect sense ~ especially when viewed from a survival standpoint. Put another way: You are her source of nourishment, both physical and emotional; therefore, her attachment to you is her means of survival, and when she reaches a certain level of intellectual maturity, she realizes this.

This stage, like so many others in childhood, will pass. In time, your baby will learn that she can separate from you, that you will return, and that everything will be okay between those two points in time. Much of this learning is based on trust, which, just as for every human being young or old, takes time to build.

How do I know if my baby has separation anxiety?

Separation anxiety is pretty easy to spot, and you’re probably reading this section because you’ve identified it in your baby. The following are behaviors typically demonstrated by a baby with normal separation anxiety:

  • Clinginess
  • Crying when a parent is out of sight
  • Strong preference for only one parent
  • Fear of strangers (Also see Stranger anxiety, page XX)
  • Waking at night crying for a parent
  • Easily comforted in a parent’s embrace
How you can help your baby with separation anxiety
  • Allow your baby to be a baby. It’s perfectly okay — even wonderful — for your baby to be so attached to you and for her to desire your constant companionship.   Congratulations, Mommy or Daddy: It’s evidence that the bond you’ve worked so hard to create is holding. So politely ignore those who tell you otherwise.
  • Don’t worry about spoiling her with your love, since quite the opposite will happen. The more that you meet her attachment needs during babyhood, the more confident and secure she will grow up to be.
  • Minimize separations when possible. It’s perfectly acceptable for now ~ better, in fact ~ to avoid those situations that would have you separate from your baby. All too soon, your baby will move past this phase and on to the next developmental milestone.
  • Give your baby lessons in object permanence. As your baby learns that things continue to exist even when she can’t see them, she’ll feel better about letting you out of her sight. Games like peek-a-boo and hide-and-seek will help her understand this phenomenon.
  • Practice with quick, safe separations. Throughout the day, create situations of brief separation. When you go into another room, whistle, sing, or talk to your baby so she knows you’re still there, even though she can’t see you.
  • Don’t sneak away when you have to leave her. It may seem easier than dealing with a tearful goodbye, but it will just cause her constant worry that you’re going to disappear without warning at any given moment. The result? Even more clinginess, and diminished trust in your relationship.
  • Tell your baby what to expect. If you are going to the store and leaving her at home with Grandma, explain where you are going and tell her when you’ll be back. Eventually, she’ll come to understand your explanations.
  • Don’t rush the parting, but don’t prolong it, either. Give your baby ample time to process your leave-taking, but don’t drag it out and make it more painful for both of you.
  • Express a positive attitude when leaving her. If you’re off to work, or an evening out, leave with a smile. Your baby will absorb your emotions, so if you’re nervous about leaving her, she’ll be nervous as well. Your confidence will help alleviate her fears.
  •  Leave your baby with familiar people. If you must leave your baby with a new caregiver, try to arrange a few visits when you’ll all be together before you leave the two of them alone for the first time.
  •  Invite distractions. If you’re leaving your baby with a caregiver or relative, encourage that person to get your baby involved with playtime as you leave. Say a quick good-bye and let your baby be distracted by an interesting activity.
  • Allow your baby the separation that she initiates. If she crawls off to another room, don’t rush after her. Listen and peek, of course, to make sure that she’s safe, but let her know it’s fine for her to go off exploring on her own.
  •  Encourage her relationship with a special toy, if she seems to have one. These are called transitional objects or lovies. They can be a comfort to her when she’s separated from you. Many babies adopt blankets or soft toys as loveys, holding them to ease any pain of separation. The lovey becomes a friend and represents security in the face of change.
  • Don’t take it personally. Many babies go through a stage of attaching themselves to one parent or the other. The other parent, as well as grandparents, siblings and friends can find this difficult to accept, but try to reassure them that it’s just a temporary and normal phase of development and with a little time and gentle patience it will pass.
Learn about it

A baby’s first tantrum can take you by surprise. Your baby can really shock you by shrieking, stamping, hitting, or making his whole body go stiff. But don’t take it personally; baby tantrums aren’t about anything you’ve done wrong, and they aren’t really about temper, either – your baby isn’t old enough for that. The ways you’ll respond to your baby’s behavior when he is older are different than how you should respond now.

Why babies have tantrums and what you can do about it?

A baby tantrum is an abrupt and sudden loss of emotional control. Various factors bring tantrums on, and if you can identify the trigger, then you can help him calm down ~ and perhaps even avoid the tantrum in the first place. Here are the common reasons and ways to solve the problem:

Reason for tantrum Possible solution
Overtiredness Settle baby down to sleep; Provide quiet activity
Hunger Give baby a snack or something to drink
Frustration Help baby achieve his goal or remove the frustration; Use distraction
Fear/anxiety Hold and cuddle baby; Remove baby from difficult situation
Inability to communicate Try to figure out what he wants; Calmly encourage him to show you
Resisting change Allow a few minutes for baby to make adjustment
Over stimulation Move baby to a quiet place
How to prevent baby tantrums

Often, you can prevent a baby from losing control of his emotions if you prevent the situations that lead up to this. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • When baby is tired, put him down for a nap or to sleep.
  • Feed your baby frequently. Babies have small tummies and need regular nourishment.
  • Give your baby toys that are geared to his age and ability level.
  • Warn your baby before changing activities (“One more swing, then we’re going home”).
  • Be patient when putting your baby in an unfamiliar environment or when introducing him to new people.
  • Help your baby learn new skills (such as climbing stairs or working  puzzles).
  • Keep your expectations realistic; don’t expect more than your baby is capable of.
  • As much as possible, keep a regular and predictable schedule.
  • When your baby is overly emotional, keep yourself as calm as possible.
  • Use a soothing tone of voice and gentle touch to help your baby calm down. He can’t do it on his own, he needs your help.
You may have heard the term colic applied to any baby who cries a great deal. Not all crying babies have colic, but all colicky babies cry ~ and they cry hard. They may stiffen their little bodies, or curl up as if in pain. They may cry so hard that they don’t seem like they even know you are there. When babies cry like this, they take in a lot of air, which creates gas and more pain, which makes them cry even more.

Researchers are still unsure of colic’s exact cause. Some experts believe that colic is related to the immaturity of a baby’s digestive system. Others theorize that a baby’s immature nervous system and inability to handle the constant sensory stimulation that surrounds her cause a breakdown by the end of the day, when colic most often occurs.

Dr. Harvey Karp, in his book The Happiest Baby on the Block (Bantam Books, 2002) introduced a new theory. He believes that babies are born three months too early, and that some babies find their new world too difficult to handle. They yearn for the comforting conditions that occurred in the womb.

Whatever the cause, and it may be a combination of all the theories; colic is among the most exasperating conditions that parents of new babies face. Colic occurs only to newborn babies, up to about four to five months of age. Symptoms include:

  • A regular period of nonstop, inconsolable crying, typically late in the day
  • Crying bouts that last one to three hours or more
  • A healthy and happy disposition at all other times of the day
Can colic be prevented?

Given that we aren’t sure what causes colic, we don’t know if it can be prevented. Even if you do everything “right” and take all the steps to discourage colic, it still may happen. If you think your baby has colic, talk with your pediatrician and take your baby in for a checkup to rule out any medical cause for your baby’s crying. If your baby is given a clean bill of health, then you’ll know colic is the culprit in the daily crying bouts.

Since colic occurs in newborns, parents often feel that they are doing something wrong to create the situation. Their vulnerability and lack of experience puts them in the position of questioning their own ability to take care of their baby. Hearing your baby cry with colic, and not knowing why it’s happening or what to do about it is painful for you; I know this because one of my four children suffered with colic. Although many years have passed since then (Angela is now 15), I remember it vividly. Hearing my baby cry night after night and not knowing how to help her was gut wrenching, heartbreaking, and frustrating. The most important piece of research I discovered was this:
It’s not your fault. Any baby can have colic.

Things that may help your baby

Remember that nothing you do will eliminate colic completely until your baby’s system is mature and able to settle on its own. That said, experienced parents and professionals can offer ways to help your baby though this time ~ ask around! I did, and from what I uncovered, I compiled the following suggestions for helping your baby feel better. Look for patterns to your baby’s crying; these can provide clues as to which suggestions are most likely to help. Stick with an idea for a few days to see if it helps. Watch for any signs of improvement (not necessarily complete quiet). If the particular course of action doesn’t seem to change anything, don’t get discouraged ~ just try something else:

  • If breastfeeding, feed on demand (cue feeding), for nutrition as well as comfort, as often as your baby needs a calming influence.
  •  If breastfeeding, try avoiding foods that may cause gas in your baby. Eliminate one possible cause for a few days and see if it makes a difference.
  • The most common baby tummy offenders are dairy products, caffeine, cabbage, broccoli and other gassy vegetables. But don’t assume the culprit, if there is one, will be obvious: I know one mother whose baby reacted loudly and consistently after any meal that included eggplant, asparagus or onions.
  • If bottlefeeding, offer more frequent but smaller meals; experiment with different formulas with your doctor’s approval.
  • If bottlefeeding, try different types of bottles and nipples that prevent air from entering your baby as he drinks, such as those with curved bottles or collapsible liners.
  • Hold your baby in a more upright position for feeding and directly afterwards.
  • Experiment with how often and when you burp your baby.
  • Offer meals in a quiet setting.
  • If baby likes a pacifier, offer him one.
  • Invest in a baby sling or carrier and use it during colicky periods.
  • If the weather’s too unpleasant for an outside stroll, bring your stroller in the house and walk your baby around.
  • Give your baby a warm bath.
  • Place a warm towel or wrapped water bottle on baby’s tummy (taking caution that the temperature is warm but not hot).
  • Hold your baby with her legs curled up toward her belly.
  • Massage your baby’s tummy, or give him a full massage.
  • Swaddle your baby in a warm blanket.
  • Lay your baby tummy down across your lap and massage or pat her back.
  • Hold your baby in a rocking chair, or put him in a swing.
  • Walk with Baby in a quiet, dark room while you hum or sing.
  • Try keeping your baby away from highly stimulating situations during the day when possible to prevent sensory overload, and understand that a particularly busy day may mean a fussier evening.
  • Lie on your back and lay your baby on top of your tummy down while massaging his back. (Transfer your baby to his bed if he falls asleep.)
  • Take Baby for a ride in the car.
  • Play soothing music or turn on white noise such as a vacuum cleaner or running water, or play a CD of nature sounds.
  • As a last resort, ask your doctor about medications available for colic and gas.
  • Tips for coping

As difficult as colic is for a baby, it is just as challenging for the parents. This can be especially hard for a mother who has other children to care for, who has returned to work, or who is suffering from the baby blues or postpartum depression. Even if everything else in life is perfect, colic is taxing. Here are a few things you can do to take some of the stress out of these colicky times:

Know that your baby will cry during his colicky time, and while you can do things to make your baby more comfortable, nothing you can do will totally stop the crying.

This is not a result of anything you’ve done or not done.

When should I call the doctor?
  • Plan outings for the times of day when baby is usually happy, or if outings keep your baby happy, plan them for the colicky times
  • Take advantage of another person’s offer to take a turn with the baby, even if it’s just so that you can take a quiet bath or shower.
  • Keep reminding yourself that this is only temporary; it will pass.
  • Avoid keeping a long to-do list right now; only do what’s most important.
  • Talk to other parents of colicky babies so you can share ideas and comfort each other.
  • If the crying is getting to you and making you tense or angry, put your baby in his crib, or give him to someone else to hold for a while so that you don’t accidentally shake or harm your baby. (Shaking a baby can cause permanent brain damage, so if you feel angry, and colic can do that to you, put your baby down.)
  • Know that babies do not suffer long-term harm from having colic.

Anytime you are concerned about your baby, call your doctor. That goes for anything concerning your precious little one. In the case of colic, be sure to make that call if you notice any of the following:

  • Your baby’s crying is accompanied by vomiting.
  • Your baby is not gaining weight.
  • The colicky behavior lasts longer than four months.
  • Your baby seems to be in pain.
  • Your baby has a fever.
  • Your baby doesn’t want to be held or handled.
  • The crying spree isn’t limited to one bout in the evening.
  • Your baby does not have regular bowel movements or wet diapers.
  • You notice other problems that don’t appear on the previous list of symptoms.
  • Your baby’s crying is making you angry or depressed.
When we’re pregnant or awaiting adoption, we dream about our baby-to-be, we always envision those beautiful Hallmark card scenes: charming baby smiling up at peaceful mother’s face. We read books in advance of the big day about how care for a newborn ~ how to bathe, feed and dress her ~ and then we feel somewhat prepared. However, a crying baby was never part of that idyllic vision, so this takes us by surprise. But the fact is, all babies cry at one time or another. Some babies cry more than others, but they all do cry. Understanding why babies cry can help you get through this phase and respond effectively to your crying baby ~ so can the list of ideas that follows.

Why does my baby cry?

Simply put, babies cry because they cannot talk. Babies are human beings, and they have needs and desires, just as we do, but they can’t express them. Even if they could talk, very often they wouldn’t understand why they feel the way they do, they wouldn’t understand themselves well enough to articulate their needs, so babies need someone to help them figure it all out. Their cries are the only way they can say, “Help me! Something isn’t right here.

Different kinds of cries

As you get to know your baby, you’ll become the expert in understanding his cries in a way that no one else can. In their research, child development professionals have determined that certain types of cries mean certain things. In other words, babies don’t cry the same exact way every time. (Other child development experts, also known as mothers, have known that for millennia.)

Over time, you’ll recognize particular cries as if they were spoken words. In addition to these cry signals, you often can determine why your baby is crying by the situation surrounding the cry. Following are common reasons for Baby’s cry, and the clues that may tell you what’s up:

Hunger:

If three or four hours have passed since his last feeding, if he has just woken up, or if he has just had a very full diaper and he begins to cry, he’s probably hungry. A feeding will most likely stop the crying.

Tiredness:

Look for these signs: decreased activity, losing interest in people and toys, rubbing eyes, looking glazed, and the most obvious ~ yawning If you notice any of these in your crying baby, she may just need to sleep. Time for bed!

Discomfort:

If a baby is uncomfortable ~ too wet, hot, cold, squished ~ he’ll typically squirm or arch his back when he cries, as if trying to get away from the source of his discomfort. Try to figure out the source of his distress and solve his problem.

Pain:

A cry of pain is sudden and shrill, just like when an adult or older child cries out when they get hurt. It may include long cries followed by a pause during which your baby appears to stop breathing. He then catches his breath and lets out another long cry. Time to check your baby’s temperature and undress him for a full-body examination.

Overstimulation:

If the room is noisy, people are trying to get your baby’s attention, rattles are rattling, music boxes are playing, and your baby suddenly closes her eyes and cries (or turns her head away), she may be trying to shut out all that’s going on around her and find some peace. It’s time for a quiet, dark room and some peaceful cuddles.

Illness:

When your baby is sick, he may cry in a weak, moaning way. This is his way of saying, “I feel awful.” If your baby seems ill, look for any signs of sickness, take her temperature and call your healthcare provider.

Frustration:

Your baby is just learning how to control her hands, arms, and feet. She may be trying to get her fingers into her mouth or to reach a particularly interesting toy, but her body isn’t cooperating. She cries out of frustration, because she can’t accomplish what she wants to do. All she needs is a little help.

Loneliness:

If your baby falls asleep feeding and you place her in her crib, but she wakes soon afterward with a cry, she may be saying that she misses the warmth of your embrace and doesn’t like to be alone. A simple situation to resolve…

Worry or fear:

Your baby suddenly finds himself in the arms of Great Aunt Matilda and can’t see you; his previously happy gurgles turn suddenly to crying. He’s trying to tell you that he’s scared: He doesn’t know this new person, and he wants Mommy or Daddy. Explain to Auntie that he needs a little time to warm up to someone new, and try letting the two of them get to know each other while Baby stays in your arms.

Boredom:

Your baby has been sitting in his infant seat for 20 minutes while you talk and eat lunch with a friend. He’s not tired, hungry or uncomfortable, but he starts a whiny, fussy cry. He may be saying that he’s bored and needs something new to look at or touch. A new position for his seat or a toy to hold may help.

Colic:

If your baby cries inconsolably for long periods every day, particularly at the same time each day, he may have colic. Researchers are still unsure of colic’s exact cause. Some experts believe that colic is related to the immaturity of a baby’s digestive system. Whatever the cause, and it may be a combination of all the theories; colic is among the most exasperating conditions that parents of new babies face. Colic occurs only to newborn babies, up to about four to five months of age. Look for patterns to your baby’s crying; these can provide clues as to which suggestions are most likely to help. Then experiment with some of the ideas in this list and in the rest of this article.

  • If breastfeeding, feed on demand (cue feeding), for nutrition as well as comfort, as often as your baby needs a calming influence.
  • If breastfeeding, try avoiding foods that may cause gas in your baby, such as dairy products, caffeine, cabbage, broccoli and other gassy vegetables.
  • If bottlefeeding, offer more frequent but smaller meals; experiment with different formulas with your doctor or health care provider’s approval.
  • If bottlefeeding, try different types of bottles and nipples that prevent air from entering your baby as he drinks, such as those with curved bottles or collapsible liners.
  • Hold your baby in a more upright position for feeding and directly afterwards.
  • Experiment with how often and when you burp your baby.
  • Offer meals in a quiet setting.
  • If baby likes a pacifier, offer him one.
  • Invest in a baby sling or carrier and use it during colicky periods.
  • If the weather’s too unpleasant for an outside stroll, bring your stroller in the house and walk your baby around.
  • Give your baby a warm bath.
  • Hold your baby with her legs curled up toward her belly.
  • Massage your baby’s tummy, or give him a full massage.
  • Swaddle your baby in a warm blanket.
  • Lay your baby tummy down across your lap and massage or pat her back.
  • Hold your baby in a rocking chair, or put him in a swing.
  • Walk with Baby in a quiet, dark room while you hum or sing
  • Try keeping your baby away from highly stimulating situations during the day when possible to prevent sensory overload.
  • Lie on your back and lay your baby on top of your tummy down while massaging his back. (Transfer your baby to his bed if he falls asleep.)
  • Take Baby for a ride in the car.
  • Play soothing music or turn on white noise such as a vacuum cleaner or running water.
  • As a last resort, ask your doctor or health care provider about medications available for colic and gas.
What about fussy crying?

There are plenty of times when you can’t tell if your baby’s crying is directly related to a fixable situation: hunger, a soiled diaper, or a longing to be held. That’s when parents get frustrated and nervous. That’s when you should take a deep breath and try some of the following cry-stoppers:

Hold your baby:

No matter the reason for your baby’s cry, being held by a warm and comforting person offers a feeling of security and may calm his crying. Babies love to be held in arms, slings, front-pack carriers, and (when they get a little older) backpacks; physical contact is what they seek and what usually soothes them best.

Breastfeed your baby:

Nursing your baby is as much for comfort as food. All four of my babies calmed easily when brought to the breast ~ so much so that my husband has always called it “The Secret Weapon.” And my babies are very typical. Breastfeeding is an important and powerful tool for baby soothing.

Provide motion:

Babies enjoy repetitive, rhythmic motion such as rocking, swinging, swaying, jiggling, dancing or a drive in the car. Many parents instinctually begin to sway with a fussy baby, and for a good reason: It works.

Turn on some white noise:

The womb was a very noisy place. Remember the sounds you heard on the Doppler stethoscope? Not so long ago, your baby heard those 24 hours a day. Therefore, your baby sometimes can be calmed by “white noise” ~ that is, noise that is continuous and uniform, such as that of a heartbeat, the rain, static between radio stations, and your vacuum cleaner. Some alarm clocks even have a white noise function.

Let music soothe your baby:

Soft, peaceful music is a wonderful baby calmer. That’s why lullabies have been passed down through the ages. You don’t have to be a professional singer to provide your baby with a song; your baby loves to hear your voice. In addition to your own songs, babies usually love to hear any kind of music. Experiment with different types of tunes, since babies have their own favorites that can range from jazz to country to classical, and even rock and rap.
Swaddle your baby. During the first three or four months of life, many babies feel comforted if you can re-create the tightly contained sensation they enjoyed in the womb..

Massage your baby:

Babies love to be touched and stroked, so a massage is a wonderful way to calm a fussy baby. A variation of massage is the baby pat; many babies love a gentle, rhythmic pat on their backs or bottoms.
Let your baby have something to suck on. The most natural pacifier is mother’s breast, but when that isn’t an option, a bottle, pacifier, Baby’s own fingers, a teething toy, or Daddy’s pinkie can work wonders as a means of comfort.

Distract your baby:

Sometimes a new activity or change of scenery ~ maybe a walk outside, or a dance with a song, or a splashy bath ~ can be very helpful in turning a fussy baby into a happy one.

Reading your baby’s body language

Many times, you can avoid the crying altogether by responding right away to your baby’s earliest signals of need, such as fussing, stiffening her body, or rooting for the breast. As you get to know your baby and learn her signals, determining what she needs will become easier for you ~ even before she cries.

Finding the right doctor well before your baby’s birth will set your mind at ease.

Choosing your baby’s doctor several months before her expected arrival is a good idea. This way, you won’t feel rushed and can take the time to make the right decision.

During the first few years of life, your baby will have frequent visits.

Decide which type of healthcare provider

Different types of healthcare professionals are qualified to care for your baby: Once you’ve determined what type of professional you would like to consider, find prospective doctors through these sources:

  • Recommendations from friends who have children
  • Your obstetrician
  • Your local hospital’s referral service
  • Medical schools and medical directories
  • The American Board of Pediatrics
Types of Providers

A pediatrician is a medical doctor with specialized training in caring for children from birth through adolescence.

A family physician or general medical practitioner (GMP)is a physician who is educated and trained in family practice, which is medical care that covers every member of the family for well and sick care. You already may have a family physician for your own healthcare.

A nurse practitioner (NP) is a registered nurse (RN) with advanced education and training. Nurse practitioners often work in partnership with a licensed physician

Determine your insurance company’s requirements

Check out the rules of your insurance policy prior to choosing your baby’s doctor. You may have to designate your baby’s doctor for your health insurance carrier, or you may be required to have your selection approved in advance. Many health plans have strict rules about which doctors you can visit, so it’s important to determine if your choice of primary care physician also decides which specialists and which hospitals you will be able to use if your baby should need specialized care, since oftentimes these are linked together by the rules of a health plan.

Consider your parenting philosophy

Choose a doctor who has a similar philosophy with regard to important parenting issues, since most parents turn to their pediatrician for advice and guidance on more than just health-related issues. While this similarity in outlook is not crucial, it certainly makes for a more complete and enjoyable relationship that allows open conversation and precludes the need to avoid topics on which you disagree. A like-thinking pediatrician understands your starting point when advising a particular course of action, and is more likely to prescribe one that suits your ideals. An easy way to find out what a doctor’s opinion is to ask open questions, such as, “What are your recommendations about breastfeeding and bottlefeeding?” Here are just a few of the important topics you should consider:

  • Feeding – Does the doctor support your goals for breastfeeding, bottle-feeding and weaning?
  • Sleep– What is the doctor’s opinion on sleep-related issues, such as co-sleeping and letting the baby cry herself to sleep? Are her views similar to yours?
  • Immunizations– Will the doctor provide you with ample information to make decisions about various vaccinations? Do his standard recommendations suit you?
  • Discipline– Does the doctor believe in the same approach towards discipline as yours?
  • Take the time to interview prospective doctors
  • Most medical professionals are happy to provide a brief interview meeting at no charge. This gives you an opportunity to meet the doctor and ask questions.
Here are a few tips to make this a productive event:
  • Make an appointment.
  • Arrive early and observe the waiting room, staff and other patients.
    • Is the staff helpful?
    • Is the atmosphere child-friendly?
    • Is the office clean and tidy?
    • How long do people wait for their appointments?
  •  Be prepared with a brief list of questions.
  • Stick to your most important topics.
  •  Refrain from small talk or lengthy explanations.
  • Remember that your main purpose is to listen, not to talk.
Before your interview

If you do a little research and handle the technical details before your appointment, you can use your time with the doctor to obtain answers to your most important questions.

You can obtain information about a doctor, such as certifications and residency background, from:

The American Board of Pediatrics

American Academy of Pediatrics

The American Medical Association

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada

You often can get information from a receptionist or secretary at the doctor’s office. First, ask for a brochure or other written information about the doctor and the practice. If the following information isn’t covered, then call the office and ask for the following:

The background and experience of the doctor. (Asking for a verbal answer from the doctor during your upcoming appointment may well take up a large portion of your meeting.)

  • What are office hours? Are there evening or weekend hours?
  • How is billing handled?
  • What insurance is accepted?
  • What are your after-hours and emergency procedures?
  • Will my doctor personally see us for every scheduled appointment?
  • If he is unavailable, who will see us?
Interview Questions

Arrive at your appointment to interview a medical professional with your list of questions. Don’t ask about issues that sound good but don’t really matter to you; the meeting likely will be short, maybe five to 15 minutes (ask in advance how much time you will have). Stay focused on your own priorities. Relax and be friendly, but stay on track.

Here is an assortment of sample questions to help you create your own list:
  • Can you explain how we will work together during our baby’s first year
  • Will you examine our baby at the hospital (or at our home) directly after birth?
  • What is your typical advice to new parents about…
  • Circumcision?
  • Breastfeeding?
  • Bottlefeeding?
  • Sleeping through the night?
  • Immunizations?
  • Can we come to you with questions about non-medical issues, like feeding or behavior?
  • What do we need to know about our newborn’s health and care?
After your interview

Consider the answers to these questions to help you make your final decision:

  • Is the office conveniently located for you?
  • How long did you have to wait in the waiting room?
  • Did you feel good about the office and staff?
  • Did the doctor listen thoughtfully to your questions?
  • How willingly and thoroughly did the doctor answer questions?
  • What was his attitude when he answered them?
  • Do you feel comfortable with the doctor’s specific child-rearing philosophy?
  • Did you feel that you could freely ask questions?
  • Did the doctor appear knowledgeable and current with his information and advice?
  • Would you feel comfortable bringing your baby to this person for care?
  • Would you feel confident having this doctor handle an emergency with your child?

Excerpted with permission by McGraw-Hill Publishing from The No-Cry Separation Anxiety Solution (McGraw-Hill, 2009).


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