Any parent who has ever been awakened in the early morning hours by the urgent crying of their new baby has worried about the reason for this dramatic turn of events. Many new parents have wished for some kind of “handbook” to help them navigate these treacherous waters!
Well, help has arrived!
Dr. Tanya Altmann, a practicing pediatrician and frequent contributor to NBC’s Today Show in Los Angeles, has written such a handbook and it should be on the nightstands of every new parent. The book is entitled Baby and Toddler Basics, and it answers 150 of the most frequently asked questions about child health and wellness of children from birth to age three.
Recently, Dr. Altmann shared her thoughts on her new book. She had several reasons for compiling this easy-to-read resource, with one being the challenge presented by online information.
Dr. Google Will See You Now
“One of the things that absolutely drives pediatricians nuts is when parents turn to ‘Dr. Google’ for medical information instead of their doctor,” Dr. Altmann said. “That’s because the information is so widely available, at your fingertips, on your smartphone. In some ways, this is amazing because it is possible for parents to get answers to questions at any time anywhere. However, as a pediatrician and a mom of three, I know that this information is not always accurate.
“This is why I wrote this book in conjunction with The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). I wanted to give my pediatrician friends around the country a resource that they could share with parents.
“Of course there are more than 150 questions about the health of newborns, but in my practice and working with the residents of UCLA we aggregated the questions parents had called in for and then winnowed those down to the top 150. We wanted something that parents could keep on their nightstand or in their baby bag and when a question came up and they didn’t know what to do, they could check the book instead of ‘Googling’ the question.
Dr. Tonya Altmann
Los Angeles, CA
Additional Reasons for Writing the Book
“I’ve been seeing patients and talking to parents for 20 years,” Dr. Altmann said. “Many times, I feel like I’m a broken record. I find myself saying the same things, over and over again. I thought if I could put this advice in a simple book that parents could read and understand I wouldn’t have to keep repeating myself.
“I also thought this book would allow me to reach a larger audience (than just my practice) with accurate, AAP – approved advice for parents. I receive many calls and emails from parents that begin with the phrase, ‘You know I looked in your book and….’ This is very rewarding.”
Topics from the Book
As a sample of the advice, Dr. Altmann offered several tips from the book.
“We all know that breastfeeding is the best for babies,” she said. “However, most parents and many pediatricians are not trained on the best techniques for breastfeeding. Unfortunately, babies are not born experts on this subject! I try to arm moms with everything they need to know on how to breastfeed. For example, I cover when and how a mom should start pumping when she is going back to work. There are also trouble-shooting tips on such topics as sore nipples and other topics that might suggest a need to consult a pediatrician.”
On Developmental Stages
“We have an entire chapter on development,” she said. We know, every baby is different and I encourage parents not to compare their child with the one next door. However, the book does list some of the most important developmental factors. For example, if your baby is not smiling back to you at two-months of age or if they are not indicating what they want by one year of age, this is a ‘red flag.’”
“Sleep is so important for a baby,” Dr. Altmann said. “The book talks about how parents can set their baby up for successful sleeping through the night at a young age. It also offers advice on how toddlers and older kids can develop good sleep habits. Along the way, there will be challenges such as teething and sleeping in a bigger bed, but the book offers a list for troubleshooting these events.”
On Vaccines and Immunizations
“One of the more time-consuming topics related to care for a baby involves immunization questions,” she said. “For many pediatricians, I believe this will be their favorite chapter. This is because there is so much misinformation about this topic online, in print and in other media. As pediatricians, we spend a large amount of time during well-visits discussing the importance of vaccines – answering the important questions and even the crazy questions! The book talks about how vaccines have changed since we were kids and how vaccines do not cause autism or other chronic disorders as some parents may have heard. Hopefully, if parents have read the book they will have many of their questions about immunizations answered before they come in for the well-visits.”
Another Tool for Saving Pediatricians Time – A Pediatric Focused EHR
Practicing pediatricians are extremely busy and any tool such as this book that helps them make more time for treatment of kids is important. Dr. Altmann uses another time-saving tool – a pediatric-focused EHR from PCC.
“I am a PCC user and I really like the fact that this EHR is designed specifically for pediatrics,” Dr. Altman said. “This platform allows my practice to more smoothly function as I move from patient to patient.
“One of my favorite features of this platform is the vaccine forecasting function. When patients come in for an illness visit, I can very quickly look at their electronic chart and learn if they have inadvertently missed an immunization, perhaps due to an illness. It also prompts us on when age-related vaccines are due to be administered and I can print this out and give to the parents.
“I also like the ease of being able to call PCC and troubleshoot whenever I have a question. These are not always EHR questions but sometime involve questions of diagnosing and what other pediatricians are doing in other parts of the country about given issues. PCC has been great about getting me answers and I feel like they are an extension of my own practice.”
How to Get the Book
Parents and pediatricians can purchase Baby and Toddler Basics from many sources.
“The book is available just about anywhere books are sold – Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, Walmart, Target and other online and bricks and mortar bookstores. It is also available at the AAP website and HealthyChildren.org.
“I would appreciate all pediatricians to support the AAP and purchase copies to give to their families. As pediatricians you will be eligible for discounts on purchase for multiple copies. I have found this to be a great baby gift for a pediatrician to present to parents when they see them in the hospital. It’s a great way to say, “Congratulations on your newborn. Here’s a gift from our practice!”