parenting: health & wellness

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There’s only so much you can prepare for, but there are things to keep in mind:
Have emergency numbers programmed in all of your phones (mobile and house) and posted somewhere accessible in the house.  If you are going on a trip have a number to call (an English speaking number if you don’t speak the language in a foreign country) and the location of a pediatric emergency room.

Hang up a small poster with basic first-aid instructions in your house—the inside of the pantry door seems to work well. Information about burns (use cold water, never ice or butter!) and wounds help when the supervising adult might panic.

If your child has facial injury that may leave a scar,  ask to consult with a plastic surgeon.  You will most likely need to request this—emergency room doctors aren’t mandated to suggest it.

Stitches or Glue?
I’ve had three personal experiences with Dermabond, the glue they use to close cuts that are not too deep.  Holding your child and keeping her calm as they glue is the hardest part.  This is the one time in my life that I offered up a lollipop as a way to help my child relax—it’s helped two very different children stay calmer than they would have been.

What to do if an adult tooth falls out?
If a tooth falls out, the best thing to do is try to put it back in, right where it was dislodged, and get to a dentist.  Next best is for the person who lost it to keep it somewhere safe in his or her mouth.  After that, a Ziploc bag with the person who lost the tooth’s saliva and blood or a small bag of milk.  Get to a dentist as soon as you can.

Once your child has a full set of baby teeth (usually 20) nothing much happens until your child is about 6 years old-- could be 5 and 1/2, could be 6 and 1/2 of 7. Usually the front teeth fall out first, followed by the ones on the side.

“Shark Teeth” / Adult Teeth Show Up for the Party Early
Sometimes adult teeth come in right behind its partner baby tooth which has yet to fall out.  They can look like a double row, they can be close up, or set back.  When the baby tooth falls out the adult tooth takes a couple weeks to move forward .  What do you do?  Nothing, yet.  Our pediatric dentist said if the baby teeth hadn’t fallen out within 6-8 weeks from the first time we noticed them, she might have to pull the baby tooth/teeth.  In our case it took 8 weeks, but the tooth fell out on its own.

First Molars

Usually when a child is between 6 and 7 years-old, new molars (First Molars) grow in the back of the mouth.  When this happens,  there can actually be a piece of gum / flap of gum at the back of the mouth that actually looks like a squashed jellybean, pink and strange.  This is called an operculum.  What do you do?  Rinse with warm/hot salt water.  In our case I numbed the area with a *tiny bit* of Ambesol because it was uncomfortable when touched, and I used a flossing stick to  make sure there was no debris stuck underneath it ( I did this for a few days, and we rinsed with salt water for about 5 days.  It seemed magical, but it totally went away after a week.

What else to expect? 
When your child is 11-13 years-old, Second Molars will grow in.  From 17-21 years-old is usually when we get our Wisdom Teeth.

Flossing & Brushing

By the time your child is 4, she can floss once a week, mostly to get into the habit, but also to remove debris left in the mouth after brushing.  If your child has large gaps between teeth flossing is quick.  If your child has teeth closer together, especially in the back, make sure to help your child pay specific attention to the back of the mouth.  You are definitely still part of your child’s routine.  By the time your child is 5 and 6, you should still supervise brushing a few times a week to make sure your child is really brushing well.  Your 6 year old could be flossing 3 times a week.


The Tooth Fairy
More on the Tooth Fairy coming soon.


If your child is eating a well balanced diet, supplements are probably unnecessary. I don’t personally know that many kids who eat a balanced diet, so here are a few ways to supplement their diets:

Omega 3 supplements are essential for brain development.  Cod liver oil which is sold flavored in liquid form,  in tiny squishy balls, and in foam packets. 

Some people supplement with probiotics help keep the flora balanced in the body.  We prefer the Buddy Bear Probiotic which doesn’t need to be kept refrigerated.

There has been a lot of research about vitamin D lately. The American Academy of Pediatrics has recently doubled their recommendation for children to 400 IUs a day. While the sun helps our body make vitamin D in the warmer months, in the Northeast we cannot make vitamin D from October to mid-March (roughly). Researchers are also exploring links between low levels of vitamin D with illness (more colds) and possible autism links (there seem to be lower levels of autism closer to the equator).

In addition to the vitamin D in a child’s multi-vitamin, there are vitamin D supplements (Rainbow Light makes “Sunny Gummies” that my children love, and there are vitamin D drops) you can ask your pediatrician about.


Sometimes little kids need help clearing the snot from their nose.  At times you just need a warm washcloth to dislodge dried snot from the base of the nostrils.

A great gadget exists—I think what I like best is that they call it a “snotsucker” which is what I called the things we bought in France and used for our girls. is the site (they are available all over the U.S.).  It allows you to clear their noses so they can breathe, and sleep.

When does a child learn to blow his or her own nose?  From the time your child is 3 or 3 and a half he or she can understand what to do—doing it just takes practice and patience.
Believe it or not, breast milk is actually a great cure for some eye irritations in children and adults.  Secretory IgA, an immunoglobulin, is secreted in colustrum and breastmilk.  The cleanest way to do this is to basically hand express a few drops of milk into your child’s eye—it’s only weird if you tell your child it is, or if another adult around you makes fun of it.  You can always be amused at yourself as you are doing it—it is kind of funny.  It’s a great natural remedy.  I’ve used it for myself and the children.

You should always consult your pediatrician as some eye infections can be dangerous especially when not treated quickly.

There are times when children need medicine.  Some pharmacies can mix flavors your child will love—be sure to ask what your options are when you bring the prescription to the pharmacist.

If your child doesn’t like the medicine, some things that really help are droppers and medicine syringes, sold at most drugstores and all baby stores.  You can “shoot” the medicine into the back of your child’s mouth, bypassing the taste buds on the tongue.

Most pediatricians are prescribing fewer antibiotics these days—feel free to ask your doctor if one is really necessary on a case-by-case basis. 

If your child has to take antibiotics he should take an acidophilus (probiotic) supplement at the same time.  A popular one is Buddy Bear Probiotic by Renew Life.  Once your child has been on antibiotics for 24 hours, throw out his old toothbrush and replace it with a new one.

Eczema can be caused by many different things including:  dairy, specific food allergies, yeast, sugar, wheat, or stress.

Best practice for home is to use a water based cream like Aquaphor   Many “natural” or “organic” creams are made with plant extracts which actually irritate skin and further inflame it.

You can try homeopathic remedies—  Sulphur (for children who tend to be warm) and Rhus toxicodendron (for children who tend to be cold).  We were successful with homeopathic sulphur after being unsuccessful with elimination diets and every cream I could purchase. 

Ticks are small parasitic creatures who need a host to survive (an animal or person).  They attach themselves to a warm place on your body—so check everywhere—hairlines and creases of skin (especially in genital areas) are their favorite spots.

Be sure to check for ticks after being in any setting with trees, beach grass, or animals.

If you find a tick on yourself or your child you should remove it immediately

Method 1

  • Pull the tick out using tweezers being very careful not to pull some of the tick—you need to pull all of the tick.  I pulled a tick off my daughter’s neck recently—it couldn’t have been on longer than 5 hours but I was really surprised at how hard it was to pull off.

Method 2

  • Pour dish soap on the tick and press a cotton ball around the tick, wait about 30 seconds and feel if the tick has dislodged—then pull it off.  (I didn’t know about the dish-soap method when my daughter had the tick.)

Ticks start transmitting Lyme Disease within 36-48 hours, so if you remove a tick the same day you should be fine.  If you aren’t sure how long the tick has been attached, or the tick is engorged with blood (which usually means it’s been attached for a while) you should put the tick in rubbing alcohol in a jar or Ziploc bag and bring it to your pediatrician (or doctor) to be tested for Lyme disease.

Lice happens—once you have them you need to be methodical to get rid of lice.  Call your pediatrician for guidelines about what products to use on your child.  You will need a fine tooth comb and patience to comb through hair 2-4 times in the upcoming week. 

Stuffed animals, all bedding, and clothing needs to be

  • washed in hot water and dried on hot for at least 20 minutes or
  • bagged in air-tight bags for 2 weeks or
  • dry cleaned
  • vacuum all furniture, rugs, and mattresses thoroughly
  • use fabric only lice and egg killing sprays available

If you live in New York City, you can call Abigail Rosenfeld and she, or one of her capable daughters, will come to your house to comb through your child’s head. She can be reached at 718.435.2592 or 917.968.0627

More New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, L.A., California, and Chicago, HEAD LICE RESOURCES!

Do not be alarmed if you are itchy as you read this—I am itchy as I write!

There are so many ways to keep our children safe.  The best book I’ve ever read about this is Gavin de Becker’s Protecting The Gift which helps explain fear, intuition, and danger and covers safety in single emergency situations as well as molestation and inappropriate adult/child contact.

  • Children need to know who they can talk to in an emergency-- the safest person to go to is usually a mother, then a woman-- women will stay with a child until the problem is resolved more often than others, says de Becker.
  • Talking to strangers can be life saving, and can be practiced-- we talk about the clues that help you judge if someone is safe (I talk to strangers all the time, so now I talk with my children about what I look at before). 
  • child molesters are usually trusted relatives or family friends; and many times people who work hard to make themselves seem like the last person who would ever be a pedophile; some molesters start to  “groom” their victims (starting with children as young as 3) by buying them presents, ice cream, etc. and developing a “special” relationship.
  • let your child give kisses and hugs at his or her discretion--there are times when we want our child to show affection and it may be embarrassing when they don’t, but this is something for us to work through, without imposing behavior on our children.

Why not tell children to go to a policemen, or a security guard?

Many times people who prey upon children have jobs that put them in a position of power, and of reported child molestation cases about 80% are men, so statistically it’s safer to avoid policemen and security guards unless they are the only people around.


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