Are febrile seizures dangerous?

child-with-feverWatching a child have a febrile seizure is one of the scariest things a parent can experience. One minute, the child is acting normal or mildly sick and the next, his eyes roll up, he gets stiff all over, his lips turn blue and his body starts to shake. In most cases, a febrile seizure lasts a minute or less, but it seems much longer to the parent who’s watching it.

Febrile seizures occur in 3 percent of children between 6 months and 5 years. The seizure is triggered by the rapid rise in temperature that accompanies an illness. In some cases, parents don’t even know their child had a fever at the time of the seizure.

After the seizure has stopped, children are typically a bit floppy and “out of it” for a while. They usually start to act like themselves within 5 minutes or so.

About 30 percent of children who have a febrile seizure will have another one. Recurrences usually occur within a year of the first seizure. The younger a child is at the time of his first seizure, the more likely he will have another one.

Febrile seizures are rarely dangerous and children with simple febrile seizures don’t need to be treated with anti-seizure medication because the drugs are more dangerous than the seizures themselves. Children with complicated febrile seizures sometimes needed to be treated with medication. A complicated febrile seizure lasts more than 15 minutes, involves one side of the body or recurs within a 24-hour period.

It’s understandable that parents want to aggressively treat fever after their child has had a febrile seizure. However, research has shown that aggressive fever management does not prevent febrile seizures. The reason parents need to know this fact is because they might otherwise blame themselves, each other or baby sitters because a child had a seizure during an illness.

For more information about febrile seizures, check out the following link:

http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/febrile_seizures/detail_febrile_seizures.htm

It’s common for fathers to bond with their babies after mothers

dad-and-newbornMany years ago, I read an article by a first time mother and father. The mom described bonding to her baby immediately. The dad, on the other hand, did not feel the same attachment as his wife. He didn’t tell anyone about this for months because he was embarrassed about not immediately “falling in love” with his baby. He did everything he was supposed to in terms of supporting mom and baby, but he felt a bit like an outsider at the beginning of his son’s life.

Ever since I read that article, I have made a point of telling new fathers that it’s “normal” for moms to bond to babies before they do. My rationale for this is as follows:

  • The baby was biologically connected to the mom for the entire pregnancy.
  • Men typically grow up playing with action figures and balls instead of dolls.
  • Adult men are less likely than women to interact with other people’s babies before they become parents themselves.

I find that most new fathers are relieved to hear this information. I often joke that this observation does not get them out of chores. I also reassure them that they will become deeply attached to their babies in time.

Kids eating too many Halloween treats? Try this trick

holoween-costumesI love Halloween and even though my kids are now young adults, I still eagerly buy bags of bite size treats for the little ghouls and goblins that come to my house on October 31st. Perhaps this is sacrilege coming from a pediatrician, but it’s hard to let go of childhood dreams.

Despite my confession, it used to drive me crazy to watch my kids gobble up pounds of candy every fall. My wife came up with a perfect solution to our dilemma. She offered to buy back their candy.

While it’s true that my kids would never sell us a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, they did get rid their less favorite candy. At a typical post-Halloween transaction, we would buy about 30 percent of their bounty.

We did include one rule with the deal, however. They were not allowed to use the money to buy more candy!

Limit visitors the first week you are home with your baby

Having newborn-visitorspeople visit during the first week at home is a mixed blessing. Doctors routinely encourage new mothers to breastfeed their baby 8 to 10 times a day. Immediately after giving this advice, they tell you to get lots of rest. If you do the math, you will quickly see that it’s impossible to feed babies that much and get much rest.

While it helps to have friends or relatives assist you in taking care of the baby, what begins as a 5-minute visit can easily stretch to an hour or more. As a result, loved ones can unintentionally prevent you from taking a catnap or just closing your eyes to rest.

I advise new parents to restrict or discourage visitors during their first week or two that a baby is at home. It’s terrific for people to bring food or do some shopping for you, but they shouldn’t stay for more than 30 minutes. In addition, it’s a good idea for fathers to tell friends and family about limited visiting hours so moms can concentrate on nursing.

How to make tummy time easier

tummy-timeI recommend that parents don’t worry about tummy time until babies are 4 weeks old. The reason for this is because it’s hard enough in the first month to feed, bathe and get babies to sleep without worrying about head contr
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Once parents start tummy time, lots of questions come up. How long should it last? How many times a day should we do it? What should we do if our baby cries during tummy time?

No one has studied this scientifically, but I recommend doing tummy time 3 or 4 times a day for about 5 to 10 minutes per session. If your baby cries during tummy time, there are a few things that might help.

  • Pull the baby’s elbows in towards the body. This stabilizes the shoulder area and may make it easier for the baby to lift her head.
  • Lie on the floor with the baby so when she looks up, she sees your face.
  • Put the baby on her dad’s chest while he’s leaning back at a 30 to 45 degree angle. This will make it easier for the baby to lift her head. This can also work on a mom’s chest unless the baby smells the breast and looks down instead of up.
  • Babies may be more willing to do tummy time at certain points during the day. A good time to try it is shortly before a feeding when she’s alert, but not too hungry.

How to clean a newborn’s vagina

newborn-cleaningSome people recommend that parents ignore the whitish material that accumulates between the labia majora (outside vaginal lips) and labia minora (inside vaginal lips). I prefer that parents clean the area because otherwise poop can get mixed in with the discharge and irritate the baby’s skin.
However, cleaning this area often makes parents nervous. I recommend two things to make this easier. First, you don’t need to remove all of the goo at one time. Second, clean the area by gently wiping with a cotton washcloth in a downward direction. (I prefer washcloths to cotton balls because they have better traction.) Third, if you clean the area with each diaper change, less goo will accumulate and the whole process becomes simpler.

Why newborns poop when they’re nursing

african american mother with newbornThe first stool a baby has is a thick, green, gooey mess called meconium. (For the record, meconium consists of all the stuff babies swallow during his fetal life: skin cells, hair, and other material floating around in the amniotic fluid.) After passing a handful of these sticky poops, a baby has something we refer to as “transition stools.” These poops are runny, green, and foamy. In fact, if your baby has a transitional stool when his diaper is off, you may see it shoot 12 inches through the air! But rest assured, they’re not dangerous and will fade into memory in a couple of days.
When a person’s stomach fills with food, it triggers a reflex that stimulates peristalsis. (Peristalsis is the name for the rhythmic contraction of muscles that push food from the beginning of the gastrointestinal tract to the end.) This explains why adults and older kids often have a bowel movement after eating. However, this reflex is much more active in babies, which is why they often poop while nursing. But the poop that comes out when your baby eats is waste from the feeding that went in hours ago.