Interesting Conversations w/ Parents (Pedcast) May 2017


Doc Smo here. Thanks for joining me today. I was looking at the stats for my blog the other day and noticed something interesting; 3 of the top 7 downloaded pedcasts for 2016 were my interesting conversations series. In other words, parents like to hear what other parents are talking about. And why not… I have interesting and well-informed parents bringing their children to me.  In that vein, here we go with my next edition of the “Interesting Conversation w/ Parents” series.

Musical Intro

Conversation #1 Dry Drowning

 Recently I was talking to a Mom of a 3 year old young man who was lucky enough to have been taken to Disney World. In fact, they had just returned from their trip and his mother told me she had been a nervous wreck the entire trip. When I asked her why, she told me that she feared her children would succumb to “Dry Drowning”.  She had lost a lot of sleep watching her children each night, after the kids had spent a lot of time at the many pools at the Disney World Resort. She was convinced that if they choked on water at all in the pool, they might die later that day. Talk about a stressful vacation!  I had to admit to her that not only have I never seen a child have a dry drowning, but also I had never heard of such a thing. Somehow I had missed this topic in medical school and residency. I have seen children develop aspiration pneumonia after a severe choking episode or near drowning in the water.  She said that “dry drowning” is different. She went onto explain to me a dry drowning is when a child seems fine after swimming and having a choking event in the water but a few hours later, the goes to sleep and dies. Since our conversation, I have done a little research and found out that most experts think that not only does a child have to have been in water prior to the dry drowning, but they have to either aspirated water into their lungs or choked enough on swallowed water that their larynx or voice box goes into spasm. When the dry drowning does occur, the choking event is followed within hours by a cough, trouble breathing, drowsiness, and possibly death. It’s not just going to sleep and dying like this Mom thought. This very rare event had seemed to ruin this mother’s vacation. What a pity. I am not even sure her child had any choking events.  This is exactly why the AAP, has been ambivalent about submersion swim lessons for infants and young children and advocates extremely supervision of young children around water.  Forcing babies and toddlers under water to teach them to hold their breath and float has risks, for me, more risk than there is benefit.


Conversation #2- Ear Buddies

 This interesting conversation came up when I was seeing a newborn who had odd shaped ears for the first time in the office. Having floppy ears, or ears that stick widely off a baby’s head is not an unusual occurrence. Until recently, I would just file that piece of information away and hope that the baby’s ear shape would improve over time. Plastic surgeons have some tricks up their collective sleeves for fixing these odd shaped ears should they persist into childhood. When I started to have this conversation with the parents of this newborn, they chimed in that they had already ordered a pair of “Ear Buddies”, a mold that is fitted to a newborn’s ear that can make the ear grow in any shape the parent desires. “What, can this really be true; a device that can literally reshape a baby’s ear or ears to any shape a parent wants!” No operating room, no anesthesia, no surgeon.  Can this really be true?  Well the short answer is yes. Ear Buddies are made in England and can be ordered on Amazon. They are pliable ear molds that a parent can attach to the back of a child’s ears to literally force the ear to grow into the shape of the mold. Apparently, a baby’s ear cartilage is so soft that with gentle pressure, it can be encouraged to grow into any shape. I’m putting the Amazon link into this post if you don’t believe me.


Conversation #3-Homemade Soaps

Homemade soap with olive oil/homemade laundry soap: I know there is a movement to remove as many of the chemicals as possible from a child’s environment as possible, especially when they are young but a mother I saw recently has decided to take this to a whole new level. She told me that she has started making homemade soaps and laundry detergent for her family to make sure that what she put on her children was pure. I looked into how this can be done and sounds anything but simple. You start with a dangerous chemical call sodium hydroxide, put it into a solution of water and then cook whatever oil you want to make the soap out of in this very caustic alkaline solution. She liked olive oil but really any oil will do. The process can take days to weeks to complete and frankly sounds a dangerous for all that are nearby.  This mom really wants to get off the grid and tell corporate America where to go I guess.


Interesting Conversation #4- The case of the flattened baby head and an infant swing

 My final conversation occurred with a mother who had expressed concern about the way her baby’s head was becoming lopsided over his first few months, a condition known as plagiocephaly.  This deformity has become rather common in the era of “Back to Sleep”, you know, making sure that all infants sleep on exclusively on their backs to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Well, this mom had been showing more and more distress about her baby’s head shape at the infant’s 2 and 4 month visits. I gave her the usual advice of more tummy time and making sure that her baby did some neck stretching exercises. The day our interesting conversation occurred was when she came in for her 6-month checkup. Her baby’s head was absolutely beautiful even though I had seen her baby with moderate plagiocephaly just a few weeks prior. “What happened I asked?  What created this dramatic change?”  “I took him out of the infant swing that he loved, she said”  “That’s all you did I asked and she said yes, just hasta la vista baby swing.”


She and I surmised that maybe the rocking motion of the swing somehow pushed her baby’s head against the cushion harder in one area with each swing. She is certainly convinced that something about the rocking or positioning in this swing was misshaping her baby’s head since almost as soon as she stopped using it, her baby’s head returned to a normal shape. Lesson noted I thought to myself. For more on infant sleep devices, take a few minutes to explore a previous pedcasts I have done on the dangers of sleep devices.  I know these sleep devices are temping to use with a newborn but both the infant sleep experts and the infant head shape experts are opposed to their use.


Well, as always, thanks for joining me today. If you enjoy learning about child health with pedcasts, please write a short review on iTunes, hit the like button for the page on Facebook, and subscribe to my newsletter at If you think any of your friends might enjoy these podcasts, feel free to hit the share button on my website or Facebook. This is Doc Smo, hoping I brought you a little chatter, that will really matter. Until next time.


This pedcast was edited by Monica Miller MD FAAP- Thanks Monica.

Smo Notes:


Homemade soap directions

The Dangers of Infant Positioners (Pedcast)