MamaDoctors’ Round-up Of 53 Health Tips From Doctor Mamas

Here’s what doctor moms think you should prioritize

health advice and tips for mothers and families
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As a mother, I’m sure you have encountered situations where you wish you could just talk to every medical specialist out there and get advice from one mother to another.

I have rounded up some of the most common advice I heard from MDs and moms I chat with.

Most of the following advice applies to the entire family and can help you make sound health choices.

Let’s start the list with one of the main pillars of health, nutrition.

1

For Healthy Guts and Soft Stool, Eat Food High in Fiber and Lots of Veggies

We have all heard, at least once, that fiber is a very important factor in a healthy diet.

Here are just a few facts highlighting the benefits of fiber:

  • It normalizes stool movements, thereby preventing constipation and diarrhea
  • It helps prevent bowel diseases, like IBD or colon cancer
  • It helps to stabilize and normalize blood sugar, thereby helping prevent diabetes
  • It helps lower blood cholesterol
  • It helps to achieve a healthy weight
  • It helps avoid cramps, gasses and being bloated

How much fiber is enough? Most studies agree that 30-40 grams for men and 25-30 grams for women per day is the right target.

This also works well for children. People older than 50 should eat a bit less, 25-30 grams and 20-25 grams for men and women respectively.

What are the best sources of fiber? Whole grain products are the top source of dietary fiber, followed by vegetables (especially leafy or stringy ones), then fruit and legumes.

Nuts and seeds are an excellent source of fiber as well as other micronutrients.

2

After the Age of 2, They Eat What Everyone Else Eats

Many parents struggle with picky eaters. Kids almost always go through a phase where they prefer some types of food and avoid others. Many kids grow out of it by their teens.

However, this can cause the parents many headaches, and the child to lack some of the essential micronutrients provided by a diverse nutrition.

Picky eaters can also turn more easily into unhealthy eaters. Studies show that when children learn to favor high calorie (intense tasting) food as opposed to healthy food that might have a less intense taste, they have a higher chance of developing childhood obesity and a tendency to favor fast food later in life.

Doctor Mamas recommend to simply give your child the same food you are eating as early on as possible.

This will accustom them to a diverse diet and at the same time give them the feeling of recognition as a young “adult” because they get to eat what mommy and daddy eat.

3

Keep Sugar Low, But for Good Reasons!

In addition to contributing to weight gain, sugar also negatively impacts the health of the child’s teeth and can contribute to hyperactivity and behavioral problems.

Sodas, sweets, and candies are the top sources of pure sugar and contain little to no micronutrients, fiber or protein.

Consuming too much sugar can also lead to a decrease in appetite, meaning the child will not eat proper meals and instead rely on sugar for energy.

This can contribute not only to childhood obesity and metabolic disorders but also lead to a lack of micronutrients; vitamins and minerals.

The World Health Organization is recommending global policies on the regulation and reduction of sugar intake, especially in children.

4

Maintain a Healthy Weight

A healthy weight in children is an absolute essential for lifelong health. Research shows children who have a healthy weight tend to be fitter, healthier, more able to learn, and more self-confident.

Although regulating your child’s nutrition is an important part of keeping a healthy weight, physical activity may be more important in children.

For best effect, simply combine a healthy nutrition with a good level of physical activity, both for yourself as well as your child.

Calculating the right weight for your child can be a bit tricky, as they require a different approach from adults.

body mass index use for health related issues
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This is an example of how sample BMI numbers would be interpreted for a 10-year-old boy.

BMI is a good indicator of obesity or underweight status.

5

Vitamin D Until Death!

Vitamin D is crucial for your body to absorb calcium and promote bone growth. Too little vitamin D results in soft bones in children, called rickets and fragile, misshapen bones in adults, called osteomalacia. You also need vitamin D for other important body functions.

Vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common deficiencies in the developed world.

It does not come from lack of nutritional vitamin though, like most other vitamin deficiencies. It is caused by a lack of sunlight exposure.

This is especially true for people living in the northern regions, including the northern US and Canada, UK, and Scandinavian countries. If you don’t get much sunlight through the year, you might benefit from regular vitamin D supplementation.

For families living in regions where there is not a lot of sunlight throughout the year, it is advised to institute family level supplementation with vitamin D.

Vitamin D supplementation has shown to be effective in increasing bone mineral density and reducing the risk of injury and fracture.

Read our comprehensive guide to supplements and vitamins, including Vitamin D, here.

6

Watch Your Alcohol Intake

Alcohol consumption is not totally risk-free in any amounts and should be watched carefully. Alcohol can also contribute to weight gain.

Although some studies point that moderate consumption of certain types of alcoholic drinks can be beneficial for health, the accepted consensus is that the best amount of alcohol is no alcohol.

7

Wash Hands Before Every Meal (for at least 15 seconds, or the whole ABC’s song)

washing hands can prevent a whole list of health issues
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Properly washing hands is something of an essential in every child’s upbringing. This has become so ingrained in our culture because it is a simple act that gives phenomenal results. Washing hands can prevent a whole list of diseases.

Experts advise that washing hands with warm water and soap for about 15 seconds is the most effective way of doing it.

To make it easier for your kids, you can teach them to wash their hands for the entirety of the ABC’s song, which is about 15 seconds.

The next section of this compendium of advice mostly concerns the safety of your child and is based on emergency admissions and the most common injuries seen by doctors.

8

No Trampolines or Bouncy Houses

This advice has popped up with several doctors. Not something you would assume would be among the top no-no’s, however, trampolines (and to some extent, bouncy houses) can be a source of real danger.

Using them can result in fractures and sprains, which is something doctors have seen one too many times. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics has advised against the use of trampolines!

Falls from a trampoline accounted for 27 – 39 % of all kid injuries reported in the ER.

If trampolines are used as part of a recreational sports program, they should always be properly secured with safety nets and monitored.

9

Helmets for Activities

Helmets save lives. One of the most common safety recommendations out there is to always wear a helmet when taking part in any activity with head injury risk.

This is especially true for children since they can be more careless then adults and are more prone to head injuries.

The World Health Organization cites helmet use as one of the biggest and cheapest lifesavers.
Just don’t give in to your kids moaning that wearing a helmet is not cool.

10

No Kids in the Front Seat!

Car accidents are extremely dangerous, especially for children. Although many safety precautions exist nowadays to reduce the risk of injury and death, not all of them work for kids. Children aged 12 or younger are at a real risk to be killed by airbags!

The CDC states that in 2016, 723 children ages 12 years and younger died in motor vehicle traffic crashes, and more than 128,000 were injured.

So even with the seatbelts on, the risk is simply too great to allow your kids to ride in the front seat (despite their protests).

11

Turn the Kid’s Car Seat Facing the Rear

When children ride in kid’s car seats, most of their body is protected by the safety straps and body of the seat. However, when the car seat is facing the front, the head of the child is not immobilized in case of a crash.

The force of inertia will always pull to the front and considering that the heads of toddlers are disproportionately big and heavy, a risk exists that they can sustain neck and head injury.

When they face the rear, their neck and head are supported by the shell of the car seat, preventing this.

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that all kids should ride in kid’s car sits until the height/weight limit allowed by the manufacturer. Furthermore, they should ride facing the rear, at least until the age of 2.

12

No American Football

some sports like american football can be risky for kids
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American football is known to be a risky sport. Many injuries result from the violent contact between the practitioners, and abrasions and contusions are among the least of the injuries kids can sustain when practicing this sport.

Many doctors warn against letting kids practice this, at least before they are in their late teens.

13

No Motorcycles or ATV’s

It goes without saying that motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles can be dangerous for kids. Many visits to the ER with broken bones and concussions result from falls of one of these vehicles.

It is strongly advised to avoid letting children drive or ride on these vehicles before they are at an age where they can securely control the vehicle and secure themselves from falling. Even then, driving on these vehicles still poses a considerable injury risk.

14

Watch Out for Choking (or swallowing) Hazards!

We all know toddlers like to put everything they encounter into their mouths. Especially when teething.

This can be a hygienic hazard when the objects are large enough. However, if the object is small enough, the toddler may try swallowing it, eventually choking.

Most common choking hazards vary by age.

For or 6 to 12 months old some of the most common are:

  • Fruits and Vegetables: Corn kernels, cherry or grape tomatoes, big pieces of hard fruits and vegetables, pieces of canned fruit, grapes, cherries, berries or melon balls and raisins
  • Proteins: nuts, tough or large chunks of meat, hot dogs, meat sticks, sausages, fish with bones and large pieces of cheese, especially string cheese.
  • Gains: Cookies, granola bars, potato or corn chips, crackers (especially with nuts, seeds or whole kernels), cooked whole kernels of rice, barley or wheat.
  • Sweets: hard candy, jelly beans, gummy candy, caramels, gum, marshmallows

For 12 to 24-month-year-olds:

  • Fruits and Vegetables: cherry or grape tomatoes, big pieces of hard fruits and vegetables, carrot sticks
  • Proteins: whole peanuts, tough or large chunks of meat, seeds, round chunks of sausage or hotdog
  • Gains: chips, popcorn
  • Sweets: hard candy, chewing gum

15

Don’t Put Dangerous Things Where They Don’t Belong

Spend second thinking about where you leave things around the house. Many injuries in children resulting in ER admission are the result of a child reaching something in the household where it was not supposed to be.

Scissors, knives, breakable glass or any sharp and dangerous objects should be stowed away where a child cannot reach them.

Risk management at home reduces chances of injury, and it might be worthwhile to spend some time thinking about how you can make your house safer for your child.

16

No Climbing on Ladders or Trees

Injury resulting from a fall is something seen often in ER’s and trauma wards. Some children, mostly young boys, tend to climb trees or other high places.

Although climbing around is a natural part of growing up, it is also a risky endeavor and one that is not necessary.

Most common injuries resulting from falls are bone fractures, sprains, and lesions. However, in rarer but more severe cases, falls can result in head injury and even death.

One way of preventing head injury is to get your kids to wear helmets when climbing or doing any outside activity. This will not help with bodily injuries though.

17

Call 911 in Case of Neurological Symptoms

This is general advice given by neurosurgeons and neurologists. Neurological symptoms can sometimes be hard to spot, however, should you notice them in your child or an adult, it is advised that you immediately call 911.

No matter how it might look, the appearance of any slight neurological symptom can be a sign of something very serious. In cases of most neurological emergencies, the immediate reaction is key to good outcomes.

18

Always Have a List of Emergency Contacts, Allergies, and Meds on You

Although it’s rare, if you lose consciousness and have no one you know close by, it can be troublesome for the paramedics to give an appropriate early response.

In cases of accidents or trauma, it can take a patient days to wake up. In some cases, where chronic conditions exist, not knowing immediately can lead the doctors to institute the wrong treatment.

In such cases, ER doctors advise, it is always good to have a list somewhere on you that contains your next of kin contact detail and a list of any existing medical conditions, the medication you are taking and allergies you have. This will lead to more precise and timely treatment.

19

Wear Eye Protection When Doing Yard Work or Other Risky Activities

Wearing eye protection is a simple technique that can prevent 90% of all eye injuries. The American Academy of Ophthalmology advises that protective glasses should be worn when any activity with even the slightest potential for eye injury is practiced.

Almost all cases of eye injury, in adults and children, is a result of a situation that could have been prevented by wearing proper eye protection.

Most injuries to the eyes are light and will heal, but in some cases, it can leave a lasting scar or cause visual impairment. If your kids are helping with yard work, make sure they have the appropriate eyewear!

20

No Fireworks, Sparklers or Nerf Guns

fireworks sparklers and nerf guns can cause injuries
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Fireworks are regulated for a reason. Ophthalmologists say that many eye injuries (in addition, skin injuries to some degree) are caused by one of the more dangerous “toys” your children can get their hands on.

This includes fireworks, sparklers, and nerf guns. Considering the dangers these objects pose to your child, its best to just keep them away altogether.

Some anecdote heard from doctors tell of kids that have blown parts of their hands with malfunctioning or improperly used fireworks or firecrackers.

21

No Running With Sharp Objects

Not that you needed advice from a medical doctor to know this, but we think it deserves a mention.

ER doctors advise parents to make sure to adhere to this adage, as they have witnessed injuries resulting from running with sharp objects one too many times. Kids are prone to falling.

According to national statistics, in the US 6 out of 10 ER visits for children result from cuts, open wounds or bruises from falling.

According to doctors, this recommendation also extends to sitting down when eating popsicles or lollipops. As the elongated object can easily ram into the back of the child’s throat should the child fall face-front.

22

No Running and Eating!

Although children might learn what you should or shouldn’t put in their mouths, they still don’t necessarily know how to chew or swallow properly, especially if they are trying to move or run while doing it.

Doctors advise teaching your kids to always sit down while eating, to avoid choking with their food.

Babies are very susceptible to choking since it takes time for babies to learn how to properly chew and swallow food, and babies might not be able to cough strongly enough to expel the object stuck in their airways.

In the case of choking, make sure you react properly. In cases of food choking, quick reaction (usually from the parent) is crucial. Take some time to educate yourself on the proper reactions in cases of choking.

23

Always Have an Epipen With You

Many ER visits and potentially life-threatening situations result from extreme allergic reactions. The most dangerous of these is anaphylaxis.

Anaphylaxis causes a tightening of the airways and can easily result in asphyxiation if not treated immediately and properly.

Around 100 deaths per year in the US come from anaphylaxis. Although it is a relatively rare reaction, the number of affected people resulting in death every year makes it a real danger.

One of the biggest problems with anaphylactic reactions is that you never know when or why one might occur. You might have a mild allergy to something and, without warning, it can turn into an anaphylactic reaction.

In other cases, you might not be aware you are allergic to something, because you never encountered that allergen before.

Doctors advise people with known allergies or stronger allergic reactions (including asthmatics) to always carry an epipen with them.

You should be very careful when and why you use an epipen, though. The manufacturer provides guidelines on the situations that warrant the use of an epipen.

24

Avoid Indoor Swimming Pools

Pools can pose a considerable health risk. Indoor swimming pools seem to pose a greater risk than open pools.

Swimming pools can be the source of numerous infections, despite disinfection measures. One of the more frequent infections is adenoma virus or pink eye. Other, more serious infections are rarer, but still, occur.

In addition to infections, the disinfectants used in pools can cause damage themselves. Chlorine can irritate the eyes as well as airways and skin, causing or contributing to conditions such as eczema, asthma, and rash.

The greatest danger might be posed by so-called Disinfection By-Products (DBPs). They are created when the disinfectant reacts with the microorganisms and pieces of human skin and tissue in the water.

Research is ongoing to confirm if these DBP’s can damage the DNA itself, making them carcinogenic.

Another big area is wound care and skin care. Apparently, parents are prone to misinformation and improper care where these areas are concerned.

25

Sunscreen

protect your children against sun uv rays with sunscreen
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Another thing that is heard often in the media and wholeheartedly recommended by doctors is sunscreen. The most crucial role of sunscreen is to prevent damage to the skin done by the sun’s UV rays.

Some of the more obvious consequences of sun damage are discolorations and dark spots, sagging or leathery skin, and wrinkles. Some of the less obvious, but more dangerous are various skin cancers and melanomas.

Protecting the skin from UV damage early enough is very important, according to experts. Kids tend to spend a lot of time outside in the summer, which exposes them to a risk of sunburns.

The sun’s UV rays damage the DNA in the skin and increase chances of skin cancer and melanoma, regardless of age.

Sunscreen is considered the top 1 preventative measure against skin cancers in children. Make sure to apply it on yourself and your child whenever you are exposed to sunlight. High protective factors, 30 and above, are best for light-skinned children.

26

And Make Sure It’s Applied Everywhere!

Make sure to apply the sunscreen evenly and everywhere. Dermatologists advise that in 8 out of 10 cases sunscreen has not been applied everywhere.

Parents have a habit of forgetting to put it on the sides of the chest, or inner part of the arms, for instance.

So, make sure to cover all the nooks and crannies when applying sunscreen!

27

Long Sleeved Bathing Suits

In addition to applying sunscreen generously, if your child is of a paler complexion and you are at a place (or at a time) with especially strong sunlight, you might also consider long sleeved bathing suits.

Although not very popular, due to the heat and looks, they can offer direct protection against sunlight. Keep in mind that some types of fabric and certain colors offer more protection than others.

In addition bathing suits, hats are also strongly recommended to protect the head and neck from UV radiation.

28

Wash Wounds With Saline or Soap and Water, and Avoid Alcohol and Peroxide

Although cleaning wounds with alcohol or peroxide are quite popular, doctors and authorities advise against it.

It is important to clean a wound before applying any kind of plaster or covering, however, the best course of action is to clean a surface wound with clear saline, or wash under running cold water, and use a mild soap if the wound is only on the surface (don’t use soap for cuts).

You should lightly pat the wound with sterile gauze and bandage it properly.

29

Hydrocolloid Wound Dressings

Older recommendations from doctors involved letting scrapes and scratches heal in the open air, to form scabs. However, recent research shows that this might not be ideal.

This is especially true for burn wounds and similar surface damage. Hydrocolloid wound dressings allow the wound to heal in a moist environment while at the same time preventing any potential infection.

They form a moist “lower” layer that goes against the skin and a surface layer that forms an isolating barrier preventing microorganisms from entering the wound.

A similar effect can be achieved by putting a Vaseline-based crème on the wound and cover it with a band-aid. In this case, the crème should be applied often, to prevent the wound from closing in the air.

30

Wash Your Face, (and your child’s) Twice or Thrice a Day

Some recommendations concerning how often the face should be washed may seem contradictory at first glance. However, it really depends on the type of skin you (or your child) have.

As far as kids are concerned, doctors recommend washing the face more than once a day, using warm water and mild soap.

This will firstly prevent bacteria from entering the mouth and eyes, and secondly, help reduce pimples and acne. This goes especially for teenagers who are prone to acne.

Regular face washing can also help prevent eye infections, most notably trachoma, which causes a thickening of the inner eyelids.

31

Moisturize

Dry and crackled skin isn’t only visually unappealing. It can cause irritation and open risk of infection.

The skin acts as the primary defense barrier of our body. Its function is greatly reduced when its surface is broken.

That is why doctors wholeheartedly recommend regular skin moisturization, primarily of the hands and face (since these body parts have the highest chance of going dry and crackly), but also of any part of the body that appears to be dry.

Regular skin moisturization is especially recommended for babies and toddlers.

As far as specific moisturizers go, studies say there is really no difference in effect if they contain some basic components like glycerin, petrolatum, and dimethicone. It’s up to your specific preference for scent and consistency.

32

It’s Probably Not a Spider Bite

marks on skin look like spider bite
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It may seem strange, but it seems doctors get this very often. A concerned parent brings their child to the ER or the pediatrician with concerns about a “spider bite”. However, in most cases, this is not a spider bite at all.

The vast majority of “spider bites” are caused by something else, research shows. One study found that of 182 patients seeking treatment for spider bites, only 3.8 percent had actual spider bites, while 85.7 percent had skin infections.

Mosquito bites, flea bites and mild infections are often misinterpreted as spider bites. Spiders bite people very rarely, and most household spiders have fangs which are too small to bite a human.

Keep in mind, however, that it is still best to check in with your pediatrician if you find a strange lesion on your child that doesn’t seem to go away.

33

Don’t Use OTC Topical Antibiotics

Some parents take it upon themselves to decide when to use antibiotics with their children. This can be a slippery slope and lead to antibiotic overuse.

When a child gets a scrape or a cut, there is usually no reason to use antibiotics, unless they start displaying visible signs of infection a few hours or a day after the actual injury (inflammation, swelling, discharge/puss).

Even in cases of visible infection, due to the resistance of certain bacteria, its almost always best to consult a doctor before applying any topical antibiotics, be they over-the-counter or not.

An additional problem is that overuse of antibiotics builds antibiotic resistance. Using topical antibiotics at the site of a wound can provide the positive pressure the bacteria need to evolve into a more resistant form, making them harder to treat. Authorities recommend prudent use of topical antibiotics.

Vaccination and the immune system are a constant concern for parents. Here is some advice in those areas doctors feel parents should keep in mind.

34

Flu Vaccine

Either given as shots or as a nasal spray, flu vaccination has become popular in the last decade.

While some controversy exists around the yearly use of flu shots, almost all authorities agree that children who are at higher risk, either due to their own health or due to their environment, should be vaccinated.

This will not only keep your child safe but also prevent it from spreading the virus to the rest of the family. Flu also weakens the immune system of the child opening the road for opportunistic bacterial infections. Flu is also one of the main reasons for children’s absence from schools.

Depending on where you live, you can get the flu vaccine either privately or covered by state insurance. You should always check your national vaccination schemes and guidelines for the current year before deciding on the vaccine.

35

Early Exposure to Allergens

This is a somewhat controversial topic. Allergies are a common problem among kids today. Some theories state that that is due to children today growing up in isolated conditions and not having enough exposure to allergens early on.

Early expose means that the immune system can get used to an allergen and stop reacting to it. There are studies that support early exposure as a measure against the development of asthma, hay fever, and atopic eczema.

On the other hand, some studies indicate that early exposure might be causing allergies if it happens too early.

Exposure has been implicated in many allergy-related conditions, including rhinitis and sinusitis, hay fever, eye swellings, asthma, eczema, and food allergies.

Doctors usually recommend it in the context of introducing potentially allergenic foods early on to prevent the development of food allergies. As far as everything else is concerned, you should probably speak to your pediatrician.

36

HPV Vaccination at the Appropriate Age

Another debated topic around vaccination, HPV vaccines have recently been approved for use and have gained popularity. To be efficient these vaccines should be administered to children as early as possible, starting at age 9.

Females are at higher risk of cancers caused by HPV, so it is recommended more for girls than boys. Leading authorities recommend HPV vaccination as a standard for girls, and as optional for boys, due to the high cost of the vaccine and limited effectiveness in males.

In addition to proper nutrition, physical exercise and activity are very important to the proper development of the child’s body as well as their metabolism. Physical activity also helps prevent childhood obesity.

37

Swimming

pools can pose a considerable health risk
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Swimming is the top sport and recreational activity for kids unanimously recommended by doctors.

Swimming develops almost all muscle groups and builds a healthy and functional musculature.

It is usually more fun for kids than other activities, as well. Swimming has shown to have a beneficial effect on some chronic conditions, like asthma.

Now, sticking to this advice at the same time as the one warning against indoor pools can be tricky. Open pools pose less danger of infections and irritations from disinfectants.

38

Posture

Good posture is key to a healthy skeletal system. Going to school and sitting in front of their computers will mean that your child will spend most of their day sitting down. Good position and posture while sitting will ensure your child grows up with a healthy spine and back.

Staggering numbers of children nowadays have spine deformities and this can pose a real danger to health later in life. Posture when walking is also important. Teach your kids not to hunch their backs, and to hold their shoulders and back straight.

Good posture can also allow a child to appear (and in turn, become) more confident, helping them develop mentally as well.

39

Stretching

Although overall physical activity is one of the key elements to having a healthy child, and later, a healthy adult, it is also beneficial to include stretching on the side.

Stretching and working joints early in life can contribute to a reduced risk of arthritis and joint damage later in life, based on the experiences of doctors.

Harvard Health advises that stretching regularly helps prevent injuries, back pain and balance problems for adults and children. Children additionally develop dexterity, mobility and a healthy physique.

Dental health is high on the priority list of most parents. After all, maintaining healthy teeth from the start saves a lot of pain and money down the line.

40

Pacifiers, Yes or No?

The topic of pacifiers is a bit controversial. Some doctors vehemently recommend them, others are staunch opponents.

Considering that every coin has two sides, there are pros and cons, and it’s up to you to decide if you want your child to use them or not.

Pacifiers can help soothe the baby and reduce stress. On the other hand, they might contribute to bad teeth and dental health later on in life.

One thing we can say for sure is that dental surgeons and dentists recommend against pacifier use, as they can lead to jaw deformities.

41

Thorough Toothbrushing

brushing the teeth regularly prevents dental health problems
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Toothbrushing is widely known as the standard most parents will be aware of. Doctors feel that it is so important it deserves a mention, nonetheless.

Brushing the teeth regularly and teaching this habit to your children will make all the difference between healthy teeth and dental problems later in life.

In addition to brushing it is also recommended to floss, in order to clean the interdental spaces as well.

Brushing twice a day for 2 minutes seems to be the golden standard recommended by most authorities.

Considering the mom is supposed to be the paragon of health for her family, it wouldn’t be good to miss out on health advice aimed at the women of the family.

42

Get Annual Mammograms After the Age of 40

Annual mammograms are a hot topic now, with differing advice from different sources. Our advisors agree with the American Cancer Society, that woman 40 years and older should have the option of starting annual mammograms.

Woman with a family history of breast cancer should take this advice seriously, as breast cancer is one of the cancers with the strongest genetic component.

43

Don’t Ignore Lumps!

In line with annual mammograms, you should also feel your breasts for lumps occasionally, regardless of your age. If you happen to feel anything like a lump, it’s better to consult with your doctor on your next appointment and get it checked.

Finally, educating your child regarding their health can have enormous benefits. Not only will they be able to stay healthy throughout their lives, but they will most likely transfer the same healthy habits to their offspring as well.

44

Condoms

The research and consensus are clear about the efficacy of condoms. Condoms are highly effective against the most dangerous of sexually transmitted infections—HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, as well some of the more common ones, like gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis. They are also effective against unintended pregnancy.

This goes especially for teenagers who are having their first experiences. Although it can be a touchy topic, parents should always make sure their teenagers are aware of proper condom use, especially in countries where sex ed is not a part of standard education.

45

Educate Your Children About Their Bodies

Knowing the proper names of body parts and the right terminology can literally be a life-saver.

Younger children often don’t know how to refer to parts of their bodies when they experience pain or discomfort, and it can take time for a doctor to figure it out. Pediatricians advise parents to take the time to properly educate their children about their bodies.

46

“Smell a Rose and Blow a Candle” Breathing Technique

As all parents can tell you, kids can get into a tantrum or fit quite easily. This will, of course, differ from child to child and parent to parent.

We know that children have a more immature prefrontal cortex and thus don’t have control over their emotions or impulsive behavior yet.

That is why most child psychiatrists advise teaching your child at least one “diffusing” technique that can help them reduce their stress levels and avoid an emotional outburst. “Biofeedback” techniques are quite popular. The simplest among them is the “take deep breaths and count to 10” technique.

There are different ways of explaining these to kids. One child psychiatrist recommends the “Smell a rose and blow a candle” line to allow your kids to remember to take a long slow breath in through their nose and quick and energetic breath out through their mouths.

47

Stand up Straight and Maintain Eye Contact

One piece of advice to all woman from a psychiatrist. When you walk outside, in an intimidating environment (dark alley, or tunnel or similar) and you are feeling frightened, do not crouch or cover yourself, stand up straight and look any passer-by directly in the eyes for at least a second or two.

This displays self-confidence and will, in turn, make you feel more self-confident about yourself. Any potential attacker can be dissuaded because you will appear as someone who will put up a fight.

Keep in mind that this is anecdotal advice, based on the experience of a doctor. Don’t take us for our word if you don’t feel comfortable with doing something like this.

48

Good Luck = Good Choices

good choices lead to good luck
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As one ER doctor says it: “I deal in bad luck and bad choices. I tell my kids to make good choices and they’re more likely to have good luck too”.

It all comes down to being rational and responsible and trying to educate your children in the same manner.

If they are taught to make good choices, take care of themselves and others around them, they will surely be exposed to much less danger overall.

49

Educate Teens About Sex

Education is key to prevention. This is true for any area and almost every activity, including sex.

Sexual education has been proven to increase children’s awareness and thus allow them to avoid the usual risks associated with sex. Sex education has been shown to reduce the chances of HIV infections, chances of early pregnancy and reduce overall sexually transmitted diseases.

Proper sexual education can also make sure your child can recognize any improper behavior and be overall safer.

Sex education is not a part of every school system. This means that parents will have to spend some time educating their children, usually in one of those awkward talks, where it turns out your kid already knows this stuff from the internet.

50

Limit Screen Time

Although the research on screen time in children is fairly new and most of it is ongoing, the early results indicate that it is not good.

Increased screen time (more than half an hour per day) has shown to affect a child’s health, potentially leading to weight issues, sleep disturbances, and more. Children consume an extra 167 calories per day for every hour of television viewing.

TV viewing also causes an increase in fast food consumption and more time spent playing a video game is linked to an increase in weight in children.

On the other hand, frequent social media use leads to increased rates of depression, reduces confidence and disturbed sleeping patterns.

However, aside from its effects on health, the American Academy of Pediatrics have raised other potential risks that come with excessive screen time in children.

They include “exposure to inaccurate, inappropriate, or unsafe content and contacts; and compromised privacy and confidentiality.”

All in all, screen time should be limited to half an hour per day, at most, if it’s used for entertainment purposes.

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No Smoking

smoking risks and health problems
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Any list of doctor’s advice would be incomplete without a warning against smoking. Smoking has been described as one of the most dangerous lifestyle choices, with literally no benefits.

It annually causes more deaths than HIV, drug use, alcohol use and motor vehicle accidents combined. You can find the statistics corroborating this on virtually any health related website.

In addition to smoking being very detrimental to your own health, and being an unnecessary financial burden, it is also a risk to your child’s health.

In addition to increasing the chances for multiple illnesses, parents who smoke also expose their children to academic risks of missing out school more often, as one study shows. Among other consequences, parental smoking was associated with childhood obesity.

So, in conclusion, if you are smoking, quit now. If you are not, you should probably never start.

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Don’t Get Stuck on Little Things and Tell Your Children You Love Them

In the end, a loving and nurturing environment is crucial for a child’s mental health and wellbeing.

Try not to chastise your child too much, and make sure they know you love them and support them.

This will make sure they grow up to be wholesome and healthy adults, able to overcome the obstacles of life.

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Live Every Day to Your Fullest. You Never Know When It’s Your Last

A final piece of advice.

Keeping up with all these advice and guidelines can create an additional burden for the parent.

Don’t overthink it.

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Written by Dr. Linnea Passaler

A surgeon and mom of a three, all currently under the age of five, Dr. Linnea is MamaDoctor's founder. She believes healthy virtual spaces where people can share their honest concerns and get help from knowledgeable, trustworthy sources, change lives for the better. She is an advocate for maternal mental health and wellbeing.