Tag Archives: Recommendations

Feeding Baby Green, by Dr. Alan Greene (Book Review Pedcast)

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Feeding Baby Green (Book Review Pedcast)

By Dr. Alan Greene

Jossey-Bass Publishing

2009

Welcome to a special edition of the pediatric blog I call docsmo.com. This is where parents can get their free pediatrics degree without ever unplugging their mp3 player. We discuss topics that span from diapers to the diploma, from the bassinet to the boardroom, and from the womb to the wedding. Pretty amazing isn’t it. Obviously we will NEVER run out of topics. In today’s discussion, I am gong to add another book review pedcast to the menu, based on the book Feeding Baby Green: the Earth-Friendly Program for Healthy, Safe Nutrition by Dr. Alan Greene. My first encounter with Dr. Greene was while cutting the grass and listening to the National Public Radio show The People’s Pharmacy. (http://www.peoplespharmacy.com/) I heard Dr. Greene talk about a variety of pediatric topics in this particular episode, and I was simply blown away. Articulate, informative, and cutting edge ideas. I had to hear more, so I bought his first of 2 books entitled “Feeding Baby Green.”  Here is my review of his book.

Dr. Greene is a Princeton graduate and Stanford pediatrician who has made it his mission to change much of what we do with children, especially the way we feed them. His goals are both to improve the nutritional quality and variety of foods that babies and children eat and to do it in an environmentally sensitive manner (hence the term Green in the title). He outlines all this in his 8 steps to gaining “Nutritional Intelligence.” He introduced me to some new concepts by including a lot of research that I frankly had never heard. For example, Dr. Greene contends that babies start developing an affinity for flavors and tastes starting before they are born and continuing through the first year of life. He argues that the reason that toddlers almost always become picky eaters is biologically based, a reflex that is called “neophobia” that keeps them from eating strange vegetation that may be poisonous.  He argues that if a child’s palate isn’t familiar with a taste by the time they become a toddler, their diet is likely to be very limited: hence the modern dilemma many parents find themselves in with a toddler who will only eat a few low quality processed foods. Why shouldn’t they, he says; they were fed processed, bland food as their first foods all during their first year. We programed them to eat that way, so to speak. He wants all the rules to change. No baby food, no processed bland food, rather a variety of whole foods that come at your infant like a freight train hitting top speed. No one new food at a time, no 3 days between new foods, no tasteless processed food simply mashed up, but instead flavorful, organically grown, fresh, locally grown foods fed to your baby starting at 4-9 months. Dr. Greene argues that repetition during an infant’s flavor-exploring months coupled with the process of watching a parent eat the same food is what makes the babies palate learn to accept new flavors.

Dr. Greene also makes strong arguments why parents should avoid all processed and fast foods, exclusively breastfeed their infants for the first year of their lives, buy locally grown, organic produce that includes a great variety of nutritional sources, not to mention safe fish, organically raised meat, eggs, and diary. He is a big fan of the Mediteranean diet and multivitamins. He is not a fan of artificial colors and preservatives. Almost every page of this book is an indictment of the modern food and agricultural industries.  The book is organized into chapters mirroring baby development, from before pregnancy to toddler age and beyond. The chapters include anecdotes from real parents subscribing to the Greene way as well as tested recipes for both families and babies. The premise behind the book is not to indoctrinate babies to adopt certain food habits, but to learn from the environment around them. Parents and other members of the family should try to incorporate these habits as the growing babies observe everything and learn to eat from their parents. Additionally, Dr. Greene gives helpful suggestions to add flavor to foods using herbs, how to select fruits and vegetables, and even how to use certain spices and foods as remedies.

Now for the negatives that I see in this book. I think many readers of this book will be overwhelmed by its content and the scope of change that is advocated. People would be healthier if we rode a bike everywhere, grew our own crops, spent most of our time outdoors doing physical work, etc… but this isn’t going to happen. This is simply impossible and impractical. Additionally, I felt Dr. Greene was being a little arrogant a few times in the book when he made some rather large leaps from the science we know today. He may end up being right, but I think the jury is still out on the safety of modern plastics, genetically modified foods, and the cause of the allergy epidemic we are witnessing in children. Advocating for avoidance of certain modern things is fine, but presenting correlation studies as if they are conclusive science in my opinion is arrogant and just wrong. I also feel that his recommendation for a multivitamin for all children is difficult to justify from science and may be harmful…has he seen how much sticky, dental-disease-promoting sugar is in many of the best selling vitamins?

With those reservations stated, I think the obviously bright, impassioned, and extremely well informed Dr. Greene has written a accessible nutritional handbook to help parents and pediatricians find the ideal method of feeding babies, toddlers, and children. I think this book will influence us for a long time to come. I give it 4.5 out of 5 Doc Smo stars.

I’m starting my third year as a blogger and I want to thank everyone for their support.  I truly hope that I am providing relevant, useful information to all those that are interested in the wellbeing of children.  Your comments are welcome at www.docsmo.com and reviews are always great on iTunes.  This is Doc Smo, saying thanks.  Until next time.

Written by Angela Solis and Paul Smolen, MD

Trampoline Truths (Pedcast)

Welcome to another edition of DocSmo.com, where we discuss child health topics ranging from the crib to the country club, from diapers to the diploma, from the bassinette to the boardroom.  Well, you get the idea.   I am your host, Dr. Paul Smolen.  Hopefully, in today’s podcast, I can give you some useful information and get you to smile at the same time.  Today we are going to discuss the AAP’s recently published  statement about the dangers of trampolines … as any of my patients will tell you, this is one of my hot buttons.  I will be right up front: I don’t like trampolines as a toy for children because I see so many injuries on them….broken arms and legs, sprained ankles and necks, and even permanent neurologic injuries. Here is a DocSmo pearl for you- “ “There is no toy that is so much fun that it is worth the risk of your child sustaining a lifelong injury… none”  I think after you learn a few facts about trampolines in today’s podcast, you will see what I am talking about.

Here is a summary of what health experts say about trampolines from the AAP:

Jumping on a trampoline is dangerous, plain and simple.  Approximately 83,000 children a year in the US are injured jumping on trampolines.  You heard me, 83,000. When children jump, especially when multiple children play on the same trampoline, they are at risk of injuring their entire body.  Lower extremity injuries, mostly involving the ankle, account for about 50% of trampoline injuries.  Upper extremity injuries (most commonly bone fractures) account for about 35% of trampoline injuries, and usually occur when a child falls entirely off of the trampoline.  Head and/or neck injuries, the most frightening of them all, account for the final 15% of trampoline injuries, with 0.5% of trampoline injuries resulting in permanent neurologic damage.  (Although 0.5% may seem like a minuscule percentage, if your child is unlucky enough to be a part of that 0.5%, your family will be left 100% affected)

The three biggest causes of trampoline-related injuries are multiple children jumping at once, falling off of the trampoline, and collision with the trampoline frame and/or springs.  Because children younger than 6 years old typically have less developed motor skills and weigh less than the older children jumping with them, they are at greater risk of dislocating and/or breaking their bones.  Somersaulting and flipping increases the risk of head, neck, and spine injury, which can result in devastating and permanent consequences.

So here is DocSmo’s advice to parents about trampolines.  If you don’t have one, don’t get it.

If you do have a trampoline as I am sure many of your do, here are some important things you can do to minimize problems:

 Trampoline rules:

  1. The trampoline should be placed on a level surface (as close to the ground as possible) and in a hazard-free area
  2. Padding on the trampoline should cover both the frame and the springs and should be frequently inspected to make sure it is in good condition
  3. Children must be 6 years or older to use the trampoline
  4. Only one child is allowed on the trampoline at a time—not only is this the safest option, but it also provides your children with an opportunity to practice the art of sharing and turn-taking
  5. Somersaults and flips are not permitted under any circumstances
  6. 6.     Active supervision by adults willing and able to enforce the rules should occur at all times.    Remember, (Doc Smo pearl) “Adult Supervision” requires that adults actually supervise!!!!

Well, I hope that was helpful. Portable, practical, pediatrics is our goal with every post.  If you have a story about trampolines that you want to tell, or any comments you think our listeners would like to hear, take a moment to send a comment into my website, www.docsmo.com.  or post a comment on  iTunes.  Your feedback is invaluable.

This is Dr. Paul Smolen, broadcasting from studio 1E in Charlotte, hoping your child’s backyard leaping doesn’t end in everyone weeping.  Until next time!

DocSmo.com now has interns helping with research and writing and I want to recognize Abbie Doelger for her contribution to this podcast today. She is a premed senior graduating from Davidson College. Thank you Abbie. Good job.

Essential Info about your Baby’s Head Shape (Pedcast)

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Transcript: Essential Info about your Baby’s Head Shape (Pedcast)

-Welcome to another edition of DocSmo.com, your reliable source of information for parents about a wide range of pediatric parenting and health topics ranging from the bassinet to the boardroom.

-Thank you for joining me today.

– I am your host and the founder of DocSmo.com…Dr Paul Smolen, a board certified pediatrician with 30 years of private practice under my belt.

-These “pedcasts” are intended to bring parents useful practical information about important pediatric topics.  A supplement to your child’s regular office  visits with their health-care provider.

-This is the kind of discussion your pediatrician would like to have with you if they had unlimited time during your child’s health supervision visits.

-I want to stress that by making this podcast, I am not intending to give specific medical advice for your child, rather general information on the topic of the day which today is “What parents need to know about head shape in babies.”

 

-Parents often worry about their baby’s head shape…especially in the first year of life.

-First, we have all the consequence of the birth process… and what a process it is.

-Babies usually come head first into the birth canal, first hitting the hard bones of Mom’s pelvis, then squeezing through Mom’s cervix and vagina.

-Bruising and molding of the skull bones are almost inevitable as a consequence of these processes.

-Many parents are startled and frightened by the molding and bruising their infant is born with but rarely are these a serious concern.

-With the rapid brain and skull growth that occur in the first few months of life, the distorted shape of a newborn’s skull rapidly disappears…unless they spend so much time on their backs in monotonous positions that flattening starts to occur in the back of their little heads.

 

– The medical term for this one sided flattening is plagiocephaly and pediatricians definitely started seeing more of this deformity after the back to sleep campaign started in the US…that’s the recommendation to always have babies sleep on their backs on a safe surface whenever they are unattended.

-Not only can plagiocephaly be a cosmetic problem, but some feel that with enough asymmetry of the skull can come along vision problems since, with enough forward shift one side of the face,  one eye may be in a different plane than the other.  A similar process is thought to possibly cause jaw problems since the mandible may not fit properly on the skull if the upper face is not symmetric.

 

-Everyone agrees that flattening of one side of the skull is something that we want to avoid.

-It can persist into adult life if it is severe.

-Here is what you can do to avoid problems with your baby’s head

         -Start doing tummy time, as soon as your little bundle of joy comes home from the hospital.

         -Try and turn your infant’s head to alternating sides when you lay them down for sleep as soon as you get home from the hospital.

         -Try to get Tummy time, supervised of course, for 30-60 minutes a day on a firm, safe sleep surface…for more on that, I remind you to check out my pod cast on “Safe sleep”

         -If your child always wants to lay on the same side of their head, they probably are doing so because of a cramped womb position.  Have your pediatrician check their neck for tightening or stiffness.  Should this be present, have them show you some exercises to help alleviate this tightening or have them send you to a physical therapist for this purpose.

 

-Here are some things you should not do in an attempt to help your infant’s head shape are:

         – Let your infant sit in a car seat or any seat for that matter  for long periods of time in the same position.

         -You should not buy devices to hold your baby in a certain position to lower pressure on his or her head.  These devices are well intentioned and may work, but their safety is always a concern.  Experts recommend that they not be used.

         -When using tummy time, never leave your child unattended even for a second.

 

-It has been my experience that the flattening can be avoided if parents are proactive with Tummy time and be careful not to miss neck stiffness.

-Should the flattening occur despite your efforts, referral to an specialist in head orthotics should be made by 6 months of age.  They will help you decide if your infant needs a skull-molding helmet to reshape their head.

-These helmets are expensive and don’t always work especially if not put on by 6 months so remember the DocSmo pearl…. Prevention trumps treatment almost every time.

 

 

– I hope the new parents in my audience today found this pedcast useful.

– The head shaping helmets I referenced in the pedcast cost between $1500-$4000 in my community and are not always covered by insurance so by listening to DocSmo today, potentially I may have saved your family a significant chunk of change… all in a days work.

-If you found this and other pedcasts useful, go ahead and take the plunge.  Subscribe on itunes, like DocSmo on face book or follow us on twitter.

-Currently, all of my content is available for free at my website, www.DocSmo.com.

-And don’t forget to check out my Smo Notes posted at my website where you can find reliable reference material with a simple click of the mouse.

-As always, this is your host, Dr Paul Smolen, broadcasting from studio 1E, that’s the first child’s bedroom on the east side of the house, protecting you from the dread of having a child with a misshapen head.

 

Until next time.

Smo Notes:

Clinical Report: Prevention and Management of Positional Skull Deformities in infants, Pediatrics Volume 128, Number 6, December 2011

 

*By listening to this pedcast, you are agreeing to Doc Smo’s terms and conditions.

 

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