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Daily Dose

Family Road Trip with the Dog!

1.15 to read

Over the weekend, I had flashbacks of traveling with my children.  Why you ask? Because I am riding in our car with the family dog as the passenger! Now that the kids are out of the house, we find ourselves with a yellow labrador (as our boys say, “we are a BIG DOG family”), and she doesn’t like to be left behind. 

You know how your young children can sense that you are leaving?  If you are a working mother, you know that at a very early age your child seems to know the difference between your stay at home clothes and your work clothes.  If you have teens they also sense that you are preparing to leave and that text message trail  of “parent’s not home” most likely starts.   

At any rate, our dog is just like that. She knows when it is time for a walk, (she sees me putting on my tennis shoes), She gets confused on a day that I choose the gym over her! She also knows when the suitcases come out that something is up. She will head toward the garage almost as if she knows that there is a car trip ahead. 

So...just like young parents packing for a road trip, I am once again having to remember to pack but for the dog!  Dog food, treats (mum-mums for dogs?), chew sticks for distractions and of course her leash. Oh, can’t forget the favorite pillow either.   

We coax her (just like a 4 year old) to “potty” one last time before we load her into the car.  She gets the whole back seat (folded down for her of course). No car seats!  Too bad they don’t make iPad for dogs. I recently saw an ad for a cable TV station for dogs which will keep them entertained while their owners are out. It can’t be long before I can load a movie for her in the car.  (I may be on to something) 

Now, once in the car all is well for about 30 minutes as she gets used to the ride and then she starts to WHINE!  Do you need to potty? Are you car sick? Are you bored? I swear it is just like a flashback of 25 years ago when I was trying to figure out why my child was crying while strapped in their carseat.   Should we stop?  So, we pull over, but it is also now starting to rain.  We jump out and of course she looks around, doesn’t like the rain and heads straight back to the car without “going potty”! Years ago we had a very similar trip where after 4 different stops our child finally just gave up and threw up the minute we got him back in the car! That is still a vivid memory. 

After another “pit stop” our dog finally went to sleep, but of course we are approaching our destination! I wonder if I can carry her to bed without waking her up. Doubtful.  But I do love a family road trip with kids and/or the dog. It just feels like summer to me. 

Daily Dose

Plane Travel With Your Child

The best way to travel with a baby on a planeI had a question from a parent via our iPhone App about traveling overseas with a 4 month old.  I think it is actually quite an easy time to travel with an infant. 

By this age a baby not only is having a more regular sleep and wake schedule, they are also at the cutest age and are typically fairly easily entertained. They are so sweet and happy that it is also an good time for others to help you.  What person doesn’t want to come to your aid when you have a fussy infant.  You will see as your child gets older, there are less “helpers” for a crying toddler.

I also think that this is a good time to travel as your child has presumably already received their 2 and 4 month immunization series and have mounted and antibody response to some serious illnesses.  With that being said, an infant is not immune to viruses like RSV and flu, so if possible I would schedule travel in early fall, spring and summer and avoid the winter.  I realize that that may not be do-able, but for a vacation I like travelling with babies during “non-sick” season. It is also easier to fly long distances with an infant (lap child) when the flights might be less crowded and you can get a bulk-head seat which has “bassinets” or maybe an extra seat next to you that your infant car seat will fit in for traveling.  It can be expensive to buy a seat for an infant, and holding a baby while you are trying to sleep too just doesn’t work.  Hopefully you will be traveling with two parents to share the duty during an overnight flight. Lastly, I get a lot of questions about needing to have a baby “sucking” for take-off and landing.  I really don’t think that is necessary, especially if your infant is sleeping.  When I am travelling I often see parents awakening a sleeping baby once the pilot announces  “we are preparing to land”.  The baby wakes up, and starts to scream,  and then the parents are convinced that the baby’s ears hurt.  I really think the baby is tired and unhappy due to  being awakened. If they are awake and want to nurse , take a bottle or a pacifier that is fine but remember, “never wake a sleeping baby”.  I realized with my own children,  If I was “lucky” while they were all infants, we could fly  for 3 -4 hours while they slept and never peeped, either  for take-off or landing. On other trips we were not quite as fortunate and had a fussy baby mid flight, with presumably no ear problems. I think the “ear issue” is highly overrated. Their ears are no different than ours! Best time to fly with babies is really between 4 months and 12 months of age.  Once they are walkers it gets a lot harder!!  I would not attempt an overseas flight with a 1–2 year old, but that is me. I would wait till they were 3! That's your daily dose.  We'll chat again tomorrow! Send Dr. Sue your question!

Daily Dose

It's Vacation Time!

1.15 to read

We are getting ready to go on a vacation and I am getting excited. At the same time, I am missing those family trips that we used to take every summer. You see, the difference is that this is a kids.  

As young parents we used to plan summer vacations with all of the children, and this usually involved us packing up the car (with way too much stuff) and driving to the beach, the mountains or to see the grandparents.  We had “stuff” piled in the back of the minivan, strapped on top with a carrier and all of our boys safely secured in their appropriate car seats/seat belts.  This was “pre” DVD in the cars as well, so as the kids got older we some how “rigged” a portable video player so the kids could watch a movie in the car.  

As the boys got older they somehow figured out how to add their Nintendo to the mix and there seemed to be wires throughout the car.  I am not sure that all of this was especially safe, but the kids assured us that they knew what they were doing.

Much of our “vacations” involved loading and unloading the car and keeping the peace between the three boys during the time we were traveling. In between, during the “vacation” we were always busy planning the days activities, swimming, mountain biking, hiking, surfing, golfing......the list was endless but exhausting. But you know what? It was all fabulous!!!! What wonderful memories those family trips were, but I am not sure they were a “vacation”.  My patients would ask if I was “taking a vacation” during the summer and I learned to reply, “ we are taking a trip”.

 I am now going on vacation and we will have a lot of time to ourselves, and don’t have an action packed agenda everyday.  Makes me nostalgic for the chaos and the family trips.  It is funny that you begin to forget how you longed for a “vacation” when you were a young family and now I wish that the kids could all come with us.    

So...pack up those cars and load up the kids and enjoy wherever your summer “trip” may take you. Take lots of pictures and try not to think that you are more tired when you get home than when you left.  It is another one of those times as a parent that goes by all too quickly. 

Happy Summer Vacation!

Daily Dose

More Zika Virus Cases

1:15 to read

I have been receiving a lot of phone calls from patient families, especially from mothers who are either pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, with their concerns and confusion over the Zika virus.  Several of these women have trips scheduled to Mexico and the Caribbean in the coming weeks, and called to ask what they should do?

While I don’t want to be an alarmist, I do think there is real concern that this virus seems ia spreading amid new reports of countries who have identified the Zika virus and associated microcephaly in newborns.  The list of countries grows daily, and in fact, the CDC website has being updated with a new map showing the distribution of the virus.  

The Zika virus is transmitted to humans by the bite of an Aedes mosquito that has been infected by the virus.  There is no human to human transmission, but a mosquito could bite an infected person and then become infected itself and go on to bite another human.  It is a cycle.  Travelers to Zika-affected countries will ultimately bring the virus back to the United States where it is expected to spread to states with warmer and humid climates (such as TX, FL, MS, LA and HA) as summer approaches.

The CDC has already issued a warning for pregnant women and those who are planning to become pregnant to avoid travel to the 20 countries ( and growing) who have known Zika virus. As I told my patients, is it worth it to go on vacation or to attend a wedding and risk ( even the slightest risk) becoming infected with this virus and having a child who is born with microcephaly (small head) and abnormal brain growth??? Short of wearing mosquito netting to cover yourself from head to toe, copious amounts of DEET insect repellent and staying inside (which is not foolproof) …I  just think it may be time to re-think plans to travel to these areas while more research and data is being gathered.  The World Health Organization and the CDC have researchers investigating all aspects of Zika virus, including trying to develop a vaccine, but all of this takes time. 

While for most people the Zika virus causes a mild illness with headache, fever, pink eye and joint aches, the effects on the unborn baby may be devastating. The CDC has also just issued guidelines for OB/Gyns who may see women who are pregnant that have returned from a trip to one of these areas with Zika and show signs of a “viral infection” with symptoms as above. In this case, the recommendation is that a blood test is done to confirm Zika virus and if the mother is positive she should have serial ultrasounds (every 3-4 weeks)  performed to monitor the baby’s head growth. Unfortunately, not all pregnant women who may be infected with the virus will have symptoms ( p to 80% of people may not feel ill ), and their babies could possibly be affected as well.  While it seems that the virus may be more likely to affect a fetus during the first trimester, it is difficult to pick up microcephaly on ultrasound before the second trimester.

So….this story continues to evolve and new recommendations should be expected as more information is gathered. But my advice continues to be…”why risk it?” . To have any concern, doubt,  or worry about exposure is enough for me to advise my patients to change their plans!

Stay tuned. This story is not going away…..

Daily Dose

Treating Kids Who Suffer with Motion Sickness

1.15 to read

If you’re planning the perfect getaway this summer with your family, don’t let motion sickness spoil your plans. Did you know 58% of children between the ages of four and 10 experience the symptoms of motion sickness? 

Motion sickness occurs when the inner ear, eyes and other areas of the body that detects motion, sends a mixed signal to the brain. 

Your child may begin to feel queasy with the initial nausea followed by a cold sweat, fatigue and loss of appetite. A younger non-verbal child may become restless, pale, sweaty and cries. At some point these symptoms are usually followed by vomiting. By then you have figured it out!

The best treatment for motion sickness is prevention! If you have already experienced motion sickness with your child then plan ahead.

If your child is over the age of two, place them in their car seat in the middle of the backseat and face them forward. Provide a small nutritious snack prior to the trip rather than a big meal, and avoid dairy.

Open the windows and do not let your child play video games or read while the car is in motion. Try to distract them by singing or talking. Sleeping may also be helpful, so at times you may plan your trip around naps and bedtime.

Frequent stops for a child who is feeling sick are a necessity. Letting them lay flat for a few minutes while the car is stopped and even applying a cool rag may make them feel better. Try small sips of carbonated beverages or crackers to help the nausea.

Expect the unexpected and be prepared.  Bring along zip lock bags and hand wipes in case of emergency. This will make everyone in the car a little happier.

That's your daily dose for today.  We'll chat again tomorrow.


Family Road Trip!


With gasoline prices at a reasonable level, many families may choose to skip the hassles of flying and opt for a road trip this summer.

While it may be true, “The best made plans of mice and men often go awry”, it’s still necessary to prepare as best you can for a family road trip; whether it’s to the Grand Canyon, the beach, the grandparents or all of the above.

Before the trip, make sure that the car is in good condition. Have it checked out by a mechanic and any trouble spots fixed. The tires should have plenty of tread and the recommended amount of air for highway travel.

Once you’re ready for the big trip, here are some suggestions to help make it a little less stressful and more fun.

Packing the car:

·      Pack an easily accessible small bag that contains clothes for the next day, an extra change of clothes (for spills), PJs, a toothbrush, and anything else you need for that day and night. It will be much easier to grab than trying to rummage through the big suitcase.

·      Take your toddler or young child’s blanket and pillow. This is extra important if your road trip includes an overnight stay. Kids like their own stuff, particularly at bedtime in a strange place.

·      Babies and toddlers drop, spill, and spit up. Keep a roll of paper towels and a box of wipes in the front seat for easy cleanups. Keep a garbage bag handy too.

The Ride:

Boredom is probably the biggest instigator of trouble for kids packed into a tight space. Prepare to fight boredom with a few tricks of your own.

·      Snacks. Although it only provides a short respite, any quiet time is appreciated. Go light on the sugar – too much can backfire. Choose fresh or dried fruit, whole grain muffins, popcorn, cheese sticks, milk etc. In other words, something healthy and age appropriate.

·      Portable DVD players. These can be a lifesaver. Load up on your children’s favorite movies and don’t forget the headsets if you have different aged kids. Eleven year-olds and three year-olds don’t typically share the same taste in movies and video games. New DVDs they haven’t already seen are a bonus. Let the kids pick out what they want to watch ahead of time. And, make sure you have an extra set of headsets; you know someone is either going to lose a pair or break a pair. That’s a given.

·      If there is more than one adult traveling – one of you can get in the backseat for a while. A little face-to-face contact, some patty-cake, and a few tickling games go a long way toward distracting a cranky baby or a bored toddler.

·      Make sure some favorite toys are within easy reach. You might add a new toy or two your little one hasn’t seen before. Remember etch-a-sketch? Tech savvy youngsters are coming up with some amazing etchings these days!

·      Don’t forget to plan for stops. You'll have to stop for feedings, diaper changes, and stretching breaks. You'll be much less stressed if you accept that it may take twice as long to get there as it did in your pre-kid days and plan accordingly. Pre-teens and teens are going to need to move around too. Besides, sitting for an extended length of time isn’t good for anyone.

Oh, and someone is going to need a potty break soon after the pre-arranged stop has happened. Be patient and pull over, it’s really a lot easier and less taxing than a yelling match about “why didn’t you go when we stopped 30 minutes ago?”

·      If your trip requires an overnight stay somewhere, think about booking a motel that has an indoor pool. It may cost a little more, but it's something to look forward to, and it will help your children sleep better. If they sleep better, you’ll probably sleep better too.

·      Don’t forget about books (or e-books) for the kids that like to read. Coloring books for the younger ones, and brush up on some travel games the whole family can join in on. Here are a few tried and true suggestions. I Spy (I spy with my little eye, something red.) The License Plate Game. Keep a list of all the different state license plates you see. The goal is to list as many states as possible- although Hawaii might be a real challenge anywhere but in Hawaii. The Memory Game. Start a story with one sentence. The next person has to say that sentence then add his or her own sentence to the story. The story can change pretty quickly as everyone tries to remember all the previous sentences and then come up with a new one.

While road trips can be a challenge, they are always an adventure and often become fond memories, as kids grow older.

Have fun this summer and don’t forget to take lots of pictures!

Story source:


Daily Dose

Vacation or Trip?

1.00 to read

Traveling with children during the summer may be termed a “vacation” but as most parents realize it is really a “trip”.  

According to the dictionary a vacation is “a period of suspension of work, study or other activity usually used for rest, recreation or travel.”  For most parents I do not see any rest in the planning or execution of a family vacation.  Lots of fun and so many great memories and stories from family vacations and adventures, but not always a restful period, hence the term family trip. 

When traveling with little children it takes a village of “stuff” to get away. Just the list alone takes weeks to prepare:  the car seat, pack and play, toys, favorite blanket and pillow and of course snacks for every possible situation. We once left several bags on the median at a major airport as we loaded the rental car. We did remember the carseat and child, (only had one at the time), but after a day I kept asking “where is the .....?” only to realize that we had left several suitcases behind. Unbelievably, they had been sent to lost and found and were flown on to us!! These days they would have blown them up! We were definitely “rookie” parents. Live and learn!  

Once a child is older, they too want to make a list, and I can remember my boys appearing at the door as we lined up the luggage with sacks full of their “stuff”, all of which was important and could not be left behind. Trying to condense and choose what went and stayed behind (usually involving some tears) was sometimes exhausting and we were not even loading the car yet!  Even worse for plane travel as you had to condense further, and now with bag charges it costs a fortune to just check bags. I guess the new rule may be, “everyone gets one favorite item”, but that too must be a lengthy discussion, so plan ahead. 

As the kids get older they just want to take their electronic stuff, but I think one of the points of a family trip is to “engage with one another”, so limiting electronics and having rules for how long and when they can be used is equally important.  That discussion never seems to go as planned!  The good news/bad news about technology. Some people pay big bucks to go where there is not any internet service and then the discussion is moot. 

So, I hope wherever you are traveling on your family TRIP, that you are “relaxed and resting” while navigating the highways and skyways with your children. 

Daily Dose

Traveling with Children

1.00 to read

I just returned from some summer travel and I must say it can be challenging to travel with children, especially the young 1-4 year old crowd. But some parents seem to be more prepared than others. 

On a recent flight, my husband and I were seated behind a family with 2 young children, 1 of whom looked to be about 4 and the other a toddler around 15 months. The father and the 4 year old had 2 seats together, and the mother and toddler were seated across the aisle from them.  Thankfully the flights were on time that day so we took off without much delay.  It was a 3 hour flight late in the evening so I thought that the parents had planned well as the children would probably play for a bit, watch a movie and fall asleep. 

Well, that’s not what happened.  Immediately after take off, the parents leaned back their seats and put on head phones. The dad had an iPad and started to watch a movie, (it wasn’t Dora), while the mother was playing a game on her iPhone , (it looked like a game with multiple apples or something that she was shooting?)   

The children (of course) were not thrilled that they were not being engaged and the youngest started to cry and fidget. At that point, the mother, who never took off her head phones handed the toddler across to the dad, who put the child on his lap while he kept watching the movie. This went on for the first hour or so with the child crying every few minutes and both parents handing the toddler back and forth. Luckily the 4 year old was sitting nicely and watching something on her electronic gadget. 

As it got later into the flight, (about 9:00pm), the toddler was getting more irritable. About the same time the other child’s movie ended and she started crying as well.  Fortunately, the dad took off his headphones and put down the iPad and took her (screaming and yelling) to the bathroom.  

In the meantime, the toddler continued to cry and kick (who can blame him)? Can you picture the mother with the toddler on her left arm while holding that iPhone and still playing a game! I mean REALLY?  I couldn’t make this up!  When the father came back the parents starting arguing about who had spent more time taking care of the kids, and even used some inappropriate language with one another. 

It took everything I had not to interfere with the whole situation! Where were the toys, coloring books and crayons, stuffed animals and blankets? How about some snacks, even “forbidden foods” like cookies and a fruit roll up (real ones).  Did they not bring anything to entertain a child while traveling?  How can they be entertained (and fed) and ignore their children? I felt more sorry for the kids than for the rest of us around them. 

Of course, once off the plane they were the “talk” at the baggage claim area.  I think they even went on to another flight!  I wish I had taped the whole thing on my iPhone, but I am not smart enough to have thought about that at the time.  Would have been a hit on YouTube!

Daily Dose

Travelling With Your Kids

It's not easy organizing your kids when travelling. I have new found respect for those who stay calm and are organized!I have a new respect for parents travelling with young children. I just spent an hour in the security line at a major airport and had the opportunity of watching parents with their children of various ages, snaking through security.  It could be a reality show on parenting!

There are some blessings to being an “older parent” and this new “normal” of going through security is one of the times I am happy to have self sufficient children. I remember just trying to get my young children on the plane (pre-security days) with all of their stuff, including blankies, toys, juice boxes, and snacks. Even then, everyone had their own backpack and we were always trying to make sure that the correct backpack was with the correct child, which would help limit any fighting as we headed to the board the plane. I always tried to dress the boys in matching clothes for trips (much to their chagrin) so that I could “find my 3 children” a little more easily as one was always trying to scurry away despite admonitions to hold their brother’s hand. (Zone defense with 3). Today, I watched a family in front of me navigate the security line with a stroller, 2 car seats, a huge bag of all sorts of stuff, as well as their two children, both of whom were under the age of 4. The parent’s did a beautiful job of getting through the first security checkpoint with everyone’s passport, and holding up said child when requested to match their passport. But by that time the children were growing restless, as were many adults, as this line length was quite similar to those at Disneyland, but with no promise of Space Mountain ahead. As we snaked our way towards the scanners the children began to “lose it”. Most impressively, the parents did a great job controlling the chaos. Some of the funniest moments (easy for me to say) came when the little girl, probably aged 18 months, was holding her dad’s passport and looking at his picture saying, “Daddy, Daddy”, and I am sure the dad thought,” give her anything that will entertain her.” But after she became bored with the picture she started to tear out a page of the passport!! Hysterical to watch the parent’s trying to negotiate getting back the passport with all pages intact, it was like “Let’s Make a Deal”. In the meantime the older brother, noticing that the parents were otherwise occupied, decided it was a great time to start “bugging” his little sister by grabbing her legs as she dangled from her Mom’s hip.  About that time we were finally reaching the scanner and the poor parent’s were trying to unload everything into the bins. Just as the Mom was trying to get the little girl’s shoes off I heard, “if you touch your sister one more time you are……..”, as the little boy ran ahead to go through the metal detector, only to be returned because he had escaped without taking off his shoes! The next meltdown came in the line next to ours as another child had to relinquish her stuffed bear to go through the scanner. This child, who was attached at the hip to the bear, appropriately started screaming, only to be whisked through the metal detector in the mother’s arms with a hand over her little mouth. Somehow this family, as well as many others around me, navigated all of that stuff through the security line, scanners and metal detectors while managing to emerge on the other side with the not only the correct children but with their shoes, car seats, strollers, stuffed animals, and bags of provisions to get through a flight. I have a new respect for all of those families who are travelling this summer.  I think that in order to travel with children it might be wise to have a new play activity at home prior to your trip. Instead of the play kitchen, get the play “security scanner center” where you can practice disrobing and filling bins with stuff. I know Fischer Price is listening. What’s your family strategy for smooth travel?  Let me know! I would love to share them with everyone!


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Why naps are so important for growing children.

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