I saw this story on CNN today about when it's okay to question your pediatrician's advice. If you know me, that's every time I go into the office. I am sure my pediatrician dreads it when I show up. It's just my nature. It's not that I think she's wrong, I just have a lot of questions and am always curious to see if there's more than one opinion on the issue in question.
1. 'Don't pick up your baby in the middle of the night'
Dr. Jennifer Shu, a pediatrician in Atlanta, Georgia, and co-author of "Heading Home with Your Newborn," says parents tell her all the time that their pediatricians have given them directives about their baby's sleep. "Parents tell me, 'My pediatrician told me to let my baby cry it out, that they should be sleeping through the night without eating," says Shu, a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics. "Rather than make the parent feel awful, we ought to have some latitude, some flexibility."
Dr. Joyce Zmuda, a pediatrician in private practice in Owings Mills, Maryland, says she tells patients there's lots of "wiggle room" on this issue. "They have to first understand that if they go to their baby in the middle of the night, they're creating an expectation that the parent will always be there when they cry," she says. "But if they understand that and just can't stand to hear the baby crying and want to go to them, that's fine with me. It's a personal decision."
I am the biggest wimp when it comes to the "crying it out" method. I can't let my baby cry. He still gets up once a night and he is a year old. I think it's a bad habit and he doesn't need to get up, but I just can't handle the crying.
2. 'Baby should be at home with Mom'
Some pediatricians tell parents it's best if baby stays at home until a certain age.
"There's been a whole debate about this in the psychological literature," said Dr. Robert Needlman, co-author of the latest edition of "Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care." "And the bottom line is that the timing of the day care isn't as important as the quality of the day care. Poor-quality day care is bad for a kid at any age, as is poor-quality home care."
He says that if your pediatrician tells you it's best for your child to stay at home, this is just an opinion. "There was a time we thought a child younger than 3 in the care of anyone but the mother was just horrifying. That belief has been well, well dispelled," he says.
I obviously work, but I would still love to be at home with my babies!3. 'Don't give your baby 'triple nipple confusion''
If your pediatrician (or lactation counselor) tells you not to give your baby a bottle or pacifier because the baby might get "triple nipple confusion," take it with a grain of salt, our experts tell us.
I disagree. I think you have to be very careful about this for the first month at least.
Dr. Hope Hamilton-Rodgers, a pediatrician in private practice in Rome, Georgia, says there's not a lot of research to back up this assertion. "I have plenty of patients who do bottle, breast and pacifier from the get-go and don't have nipple confusion," she says.
Dr. Laura Jana, Shu's co-author of the newborn book and of "Food Fights," a nutrition book for parents and kids, says some newborns do experience nipple confusion, so she offers this advice: "I tell them if they're concerned about nipple confusion, they can do just breastfeeding for a week or two to make sure their baby's getting the hang of it, and then if everything's working OK, try a paci or a bottle if they want."
4. 'Your baby must eat solid foods by 6 months'
Jana, a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics, says all children are different. She remembers one of her three children was unenthusiastic about food until she was 9 months old. "My son, on the other hand, at 4 months old cried between spoonfuls because it wasn't coming fast enough," she says.
Needlman agrees there's no reason to panic if your 6-month-old doesn't want to eat solid food, but it's a good idea to visit the pediatrician to make sure the dislike is just your baby's personal preference and not a sign of a health problem.5. 'You must take the pacifier away'
Some pediatricians get very opinionated about the age at which to wean a child off the pacifier. But our experts say as long as it's not interfering with the child's speech, or causing dental problems, it's OK to let a child soothe herself with a pacifier.
"There's not a lot of science on this," Shu says. "It's not cut and dried by any means."
The bottom line: when you're in the pediatrician's office, you should try to separate medical fact from medical opinion. This isn't always easy.
"This is a big deal for mothers and even bigger for new mothers who trust their judgment even less," says Mia Redrick, a "mom coach" and author of "Time for mom-ME." "Often it's hard for mothers to distinguish medical advice from a pediatrician's personal opinion."
Needlman offers this advice: If you're not sure if you're getting fact or opinion, ask. "It's a good thing when a parent says 'Really? I don't want to do that,'" he says. "You can challenge your pediatrician along the lines of saying, 'That advice you gave me doesn't feel comfortable to me. Can we talk about some other options?'"
My oldest son was obsessed with his Binky and it was a complete nightmare trying to get rid of it. He had delayed speech and our pathologist says the Binky contributed to this. I waited forever to take the Binky away. However, he has not been a decent sleeper since we took the Binky away. Now I wish I could give it back to him!
What issues do you think are opinion rather than fact when it comes to your pediatrician's advice? Am I the only one annoying my pediatrician with a million questions every time I'm in the office?