Why is my baby crying so much? Why won’t my toddler eat? Will I ever sleep again? These are questions that all new parents ask and ones that MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) primary care physicians and nurses set out to answer at MGHfC Education Day on Jan.13, 2015.
Highlighted by multiple interactive presentations by MGHfC clincians and staff, the event, held at the Starr Center, was an opportunity for parents and supporters to learn more about the multidisciplinary care and family-centered services that MGHfC provides to its patients.
Focused on the concerns new parents often have about what’s “normal” and what’s not during their child’s early years, the primary care session was reflective of the expert insights and reassuring advice that participants received throughout the day.
New Parents and Baby’s Crying
Lori Pugsley, RN, nurse director for the Newborn Family Unit, said that it is normal for all babies to cry. Some babies cry for up to five hours a day or more, with a baby’s fussiness often peaking at two to four months. This age can often be the most difficult and exhausting for new parents. Ms. Pugsley reminded new parents that the amount a baby cries is not indicative of their future personalities; babies are born with a temperament and personalities develop as they grow.
Shannon Scott-Vernaglia, MD, MGHfC residency training director, explained to the same group that the primary care physician’s role is often to support the parents just as much as the child. Dr. Scott-Vernaglia spoke about the challenges of feeding children and stressed that parents should put less pressure on themselves to fix their child’s eating habits. For toddlers, eating is a way to express independence and control. She also reminded parents that it’s okay if their child isn’t eating healthy foods all the time. Instead, they should just consider the average type of food eaten over a week and make sure it is mostly healthy.
Pediatrician Peter Greenspan, MD, MGHfC medical director, advised that parents avoid letting infants sleep in their bed. Allowing a baby to sleep alongside parents greatly increases the risk for suffocation and injury. Dr. Greenspan also said that after four months, babies no longer need to be fed during the night (nutritionally it is not necessary). Because of this, parents have the option to begin sleep training at that age.
Coping with Social Media
The multifaceted day began with a chance for guests to attend MGHfC grand rounds, followed by two interactive presentations of their choice. Topics for those presentations ranged from gastrointestinal conditions and food allergies to pediatric psychiatry. In each session, guests could ask questions of the MGHfC physician presenters. The afternoon’s lunch included roundtable discussions between guests and physicians.
A plenary session, coined #technologyoverload, featured Jeffrey Bostic, MD, and Tristan Gorrindo, MD, speaking about a challenge that many parents face: managing their child or teen’s screen time and social media activities.
The day concluded with remarks from Joan Sapir, EdM, MBA, senior vice president at Mass General, Ron Kleinman, MD, MGHfC physician-in-chief, and Allan Goldstein, MD, MGHfC surgeon-in-chief. The hospital leaders reminded guests that many of the programs featured throughout the day would not be possible without philanthropy.
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