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Your Pediatrician Isn’t Your Parenting Expert

Everyone hates unsolicited parenting advice, and it seems as if there’s been an upsurge of it coming from a very confusing source.  It’s not Facebook. It’s not a parenting magazine. It’s from your pediatrician.

Scroll through your local mom’s group, breastfeeding group, play date group, etc. and you’ll likely see something moms are questioning related to infant sleep, infant feeding, and/or discipline that they were told to follow strict guidance about at their well-child visits.  The weird thing is, most of these topics can’t be generalized.  Yes, kiddos need to sleep, gain weight (by healthy sources), and need discipline. Duh. But, no one knows your kid better than you do, and if you have questions (outside of the medical realm) related to things like infant sleep, infant feeding, and/or discipline, you would likely benefit from educational materials and support groups that are evidence-based, unbiased, and non-judgemental.

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I’ve switched peds a few times because we were told to do things that we weren’t comfortable with, and we honestly had never asked about!  If your ped makes you post on Facebook, “You’ll never believe what my ped said!!” then you should consider switching peds.

Over the years we’ve heard these quotes from our (former) pediatrician:

“There’s no benefit for kids in car seats to rear face after 1 year old.”

“Your baby is using you as a pacifier.”

“Babies should be sleeping through the night by (insert made up age here.)”

“Don’t pick up your baby every time they cry or they’ll learn to manipulate you.”

I will tell you, there are LOTS of risks to switching baby to front-facing in a car seat before the height and/or weight limit. My baby was NOT using me as a pacifier. There’s lotsandlotsandlots of benefits to nursing after age one! My first baby was most definitely not ready to sleep through the night until closer to 2 ½, because sleep training just didn’t “work” for her.  Our second and third kiddos, just like I do, sleep through the night…sometimes.  There is absolutely no research that supports that a baby will be clingy if you “give in” to them crying.  Spoiler alert: Little ones cry to tell you that they need you. They’re not manipulative A-holes (all the time, anyway).

When I want parenting advice, I can look in every direction and at any point in time, and I’m bombarded with it. The last thing that parents need is a healthcare professional passing along their personal parenting allegiance and masking it as healthcare advice.  Parents often do what their peds recommend EVEN if it’s not what the ped was trained to talk about.  As a different type of healthcare professional (I’m a lactation consultant), I know that they generally have veeeeery little training about breastfeeding, yet…how often do you hear about peds giving breastfeeding advice?  Telling a mother that “It’s normal for breastfeeding to hurt,” that “Baby shouldn’t nurse for more than 10 minutes on each side,” or that “Baby shouldn’t nurse at night.”  AHHHHH!!! Those are the moms/babies that I see on the reg for treatment for tissue breakdown and/or totally crashed milk supply.

If you’re wondering how to keep your conversations on-topic (when baby is otherwise doing fine, growing, meeting developmental milestones, etc.) here are a few tips:

When they ask, “How does he sleep?” Answer, “Like a baby.”

When they ask, “How often does he nurse?” Answer, “When he needs to.”

When they ask about solids, “What does he eat?” Answer, “Food. A bunch.”

When they ask, “Questions?” Answer, “Nope.”

Find the parenting styles that work best for you, but know that it’s rare that you need more than gentle guidance and support here.  You are the best thing for your baby, and there’s no one-size-fits-all advice, especially the kind that makes you question if it’s the best fit for your family.

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Thankfully, we’ve hit the goldmine of lack of unsolicited advice with our current ped.  I love, love, LOVE her.  She greets us all, asks the older siblings how they’re doing, asks if we have any questions (the answer is usually ‘nope’), and then asks the kids what kind of stickers that they’d like. Short and sweet. We hit the ped jackpot.  I trust that she’s knowledgeable about all things related to taking care of our kids when they’re sick, and that’s what she’s there for!  Find a ped that relates to you, that knows all things in their scope of practice related to optimal growth…and that meets you where you are with parenting.  That’s your best match!


 

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