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SleepTraining-325As a pediatrician, one of the most frequently asked questions I hear is, "How can I get my baby to sleep through the night?" Let me give you my best advice by first sharing my own experiences as a mother.

My oldest child, Jack, was a truly terrible sleeper. Awful. For months, he woke every hour or two to nurse. Finally, when he was four months old, and when I'd reached the end of my sleep-deprived rope, I made a deal with my husband, Paul, to let Jack cry it out.

The first night, our son cried for six hours (while I also cried the entire time). The next night was worse. By the third night of endless screaming, I had a Momma Bear moment, threw up the white flag and headed for the nursery to comfort my hysterical baby, but my husband convinced me to wait it out. Finally, Jack stopped crying. When I peeked in on him, he was blissfully asleep. Jack never cried himself to sleep again. Seventeen years later, he can still sleep through anything without waking up.

Our second baby, Liesl, was another terrible sleeper. But the process of sleep-training Jack was so painful for me, I couldn't bear to sleep-train my daughter. So, we let her call the shots, taking her own sweet time feeding and keeping us awake until she ultimately decided to sleep for longer stretches—which took years. She is now 15 and still a terrible sleeper. I often wonder if she would have been a better sleeper if only we had tried sleep-training her like we did Jack. Life as a parent is full of second-guessing.

So, what is my advice for sleep deprived parents? I believe that, developmentally, babies younger than 4 months old should be attended to when they cry for more than a few minutes, in order to feed and reassure them. Once a baby passes the 4-month mark, they are medically able to go 10 or more hours without feeding. This is an appropriate age to do some form of sleep-training IF parents wish to do so.

When you sleep-train, my overarching principle is to remove as many rewards for your baby waking up as your parental heart can tolerate. In other words, think about what you do that encourages a baby to wake up. Common examples include:

  • Going to your baby's side
  • Picking her up
  • Feeding her
  • Rocking her back to sleep
  • Bringing her back to your bed

Decide which of those rewards you can remove. What we did with my son, Jack, what I call "Dr. B's Sleep Boot Camp," was to take all of those away at once. It's the fastest, but hardest way to sleep-train. More moderate approaches are to remove some of the rewards in a more gradual fashion, determined by what the parents can tolerate emotionally.

There have been a large number of books written on the subject of getting your baby to sleep. That proves:

  1. Sleep problems are common in babies.
  2. There is no one right answer.
  3. Nobody is really THE expert.

Take my advice, think about it and make it work for you. And talk with us at Eugene Pediatric Associates if you need help managing your baby's sleep patterns.
Tagged in: Parenting Sleep

Posted by on in News
Solutions1I’ve been spending some time reflecting on a troubling trend unfolding around us.

In a previous blog, I shared my thoughts on recent national and international violence, unrest and families in crisis—it seems as if the world has gone mad. I’ve also become anxious and disheartened watching our own beautiful community follow suit.

I believe our societal decline is due to multiple factors: technology gone awry, an acceptance of violence, loss of common kindness, excessive focus on our own selfish needs, and a lack of a moral compass.  

When I think of how I as an individual can affect change on a global level, I feel helpless. I do, however, believe that we can all work together to take back our little corner of humanity. In our own lives, in our families, in our schools and workplaces, we CAN make meaningful changes. But it must be purposeful. And it probably won’t be easy.

Making positive changes to alleviate problems and heal the broken relationships around us begins with:

•    Getting rid of some of your technology. I’m serious. What did you do before you had a smartphone? You were fine. Do we really need to check our email 50 times a day? No. Do we really need to send 2,000 texts a month? Again, no. One mom told me her son gave up his iPhone for Lent and she said, “For 40 days, he was the nicest kid I’ve ever known.” This technology stuff may be entertaining, but it’s addictive so let’s rein it in. Start with small changes. I am making a personal pledge not to take my smartphone on family vacations. What pledge are you willing to make?    

•    Simplifying your family’s life. Giving up activities and obligations to allow more time to just be together is not easy, but the benefits will outweigh the loss. Use the extra time together to talk—really talk. Discuss your thoughts, your goals and your beliefs.   

•    Choosing happiness, positive thoughts and kindness. What we say, what we watch for entertainment, and how we let our minds wander has a direct impact on us. I believe happiness is a choice and we need to actively seek it. It’s hard when we are surrounded by lots of negativity, especially as of late, so we all have to work on having a positive attitude.

•    Becoming a giver more than a taker. Volunteer. Help others. Donate. There are thousands of ways we can give back to society and raise up others. We need to do regular activities with our families that benefit people around us, instead of spending so much time thinking about what we want for ourselves.

•    Believing. If you are a person of faith, worship more often and include the kids. Don’t just sit and listen to the sermon from the back row; become actively involved in your church. If you’re not into organized religion, talk with your children about your own beliefs about what’s right and wrong. Give the kids and yourself things to believe in, reasons to cherish life, and ideas about future directions they can take that will be positive and help the world.  

•    Supporting charities that support families. Now more than ever, our local community needs to support organizations that work to address mental health issues and drug and alcohol addiction. We need to offer a hand, whether it be financial assistance or volunteer hours, to groups that inspire better parenting, happier people and healthier minds.

The time is now. We need to act together to make a positive difference in our community. Please share your ideas, too. Together, I believe our power for good in the world is far greater than we can even imagine.

Posted by on in News

151124ProblemsWhen I was growing up in Eugene, violent crimes were nearly unheard of, but recently it seems like murders and other horrific offenses are becoming commonplace on the front page of our local newspaper.

We’ve seen multiple young children who’ve been badly abused. A number of our teenage patients have attempted suicide these past few months. We’ve experienced a flood of kids suffering with anxiety or depression who come into our office accompanied by parents in crisis.  

Something has shifted in our community, and I’m worried. I’m sharing my thoughts with you in the hopes of starting a dialogue that will lead to solutions. Why is there so much pain and suffering in our community? And what can we all do collectively to reclaim a peaceful, healthier city?  

As a pediatrician, watching kids and families over the last 20 years, I’ve made a few observations:

•    Kids and adults spend too much time absorbed in technology. The average teen spends more than 8 hours a day in front of a screen, but less than 10 minutes talking to their parents. Many studies have shown that the brains of young children do not develop correctly when they live in cyberspace. According to research, the number of hours a day a teenager spends engaged with technology is directly proportionate to symptoms of reported anxiety and sadness. Screens are replacing our time together and parents and children are drifting apart.

•    The pace of life is too fast. It used to be that you called someone, left a message and received a call back the next day. You had breaks in your day that allowed you time to think, to reflect, to give thanks and to plan. We are now constantly deluged with emails, texts, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, tweets, and many other forms of input and interruptions. And we’ve come to believe that our responses are supposed to be immediate. I am not convinced the human brain was designed to tolerate this much information, this fast.

•    Violence and rudeness have become a normal part of society. So much available information is too graphic, intense, and negative for kids—and often for adults—to stay in a positive frame of mind. Back in my day, we were introduced to Space invaders, one of the earliest and graphically simple video games where the goal was to defeat waves of aliens with a laser cannon. Compare that to Call of Duty, today’s wildly popular series of first-person shooter games that has been criticized for glamorizing violence. Look at the content of TV shows like SpongeBob SquarePants and Modern Family, as well as movies, books and other forms of social media. Unkindness, disrespect and sarcasm have replaced good manners.  

•    Our society is increasingly self-oriented and negative. Instant gratification and material wants have replaced the thread of volunteerism and community service of my grandfather’s generation. Complaining and whining about trivial matters has, in many ways, suffocated our ability to recognize our blessings and to be thankful for them.

•    Faith, a sense of a higher purpose, and appreciation for the value of life has waned. I’m not just talking about religious faith—which certainly offers a framework for making good choices to many believers—I am talking about kids and families who appear to be without a guiding moral compass.  

We must also support programs that seek to help people and families stricken by mental illness, and drug and alcohol addiction. And we need to support programs that address social afflictions like homelessness and food insecurity.

In an upcoming blog, I will share my own opinions about ways we can work to change these worrisome trends. But for now, I invite you to share your own thoughts about what’s troubling our society these days. My hope is that we can start a conversation that can potentially lead to positive change in our community. God bless us as we seek to heal our community - somehow.

Posted by on in News
Bonnie Root R.N.Bonnie Root, R.N.Eugene Pediatrics will now make house calls! Starting Dec. 1, parents of every baby born into our practice will have the opportunity to receive a free, one-hour visit with our newest team member, Bonnie Root, R.N., in the comfort of their own home. All of us at Eugene Pediatrics are very proud and excited to tell you about this new way of caring for babies and families.

Those first few weeks at home with a newborn can be challenging for any parent, whether it's your first or your fifth child. Your pediatrician sees you each day in the hospital and then immediately after your baby comes home from the hospital. If everything is going well, we don't see you again until the two-week well baby checkup. That leaves a gap where babies and parents can often benefit from additional help.

Registered nurse Bonnie Root is a specialist in newborn and pediatric care. She has worked for the past several years at Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend, in both the mother-baby unit and the pediatric ward, where she has honed her skills in caring for babies, children and moms. Her passion for teaching shines each month when she leads newborn classes for expectant parents at Women's Care Obstetrics and Gynecology.

As an important member of our Eugene Pediatrics team, Bonnie is skilled and focused on:

  • Newborn feeding – She is trained at supporting breastfeeding mothers and is experienced in the use of formulas and special feeding equipment for bottle-fed babies.
  • Assessing babies for medical problems, such as jaundice, low blood sugar or illness.
  • Basic newborn care, including diapering, burping and sleep safety. She can answer a variety of common questions, review important information and work with parents where the baby lives.
  • Medical care for premature babies.
  • Parent wellness – Caring for a baby can be challenging. Bonnie can help connect parents in need of a stronger support network to resources in the community.

Bonnie fits seamlessly into our full spectrum of care at Eugene Pediatrics, communicating directly with your pediatrician and entering her notes from your house call visit into your baby's patient file remotely, from her secure network laptop computer. She also has immediate access to our case manager for families in need of more support.

Visits with Bonnie can be scheduled just like an office appointment, either by phone or in person when you visit our office after your baby goes home from the hospital.

Eugene Pediatrics is the only pediatric clinic in our region offering house calls, continuing to create a new model of care to lead our region in quality and innovation.

We want to do what's best for every baby, caring for each child like they are our own. We are proud to welcome Bonnie with her exceptional skills, loving personality and wonderful new concept in newborn care.

Posted by on in News
destressBeing a Dr. Mom, I am always caregiving, fretting about kids, and feeling nearly stretched to my limit. It’s a great life and one I wouldn’t change. But there are times when I feel the need to reset myself. Every mom has her list of ways to relax. Here’s mine: 

10. Walking my dog. Barclay and I are both sun lovers, so these crisp fall days are our favorite.

9. Sipping a coffee with my daughter.

8. Watching a Ducks football game with my son.

7. Snuggling on the couch with my husband and talking about our day without discussing medicine. That’s hard for two pediatricians!

6. Listening to music. I either crank up the country, or spin out the smooth jazz to loosen up. I love to play classical violin, but listening to it winds me up.

5. Cooking a special meal on a weekend, preferably with help from my kids. Just talking and hanging out in our kitchen is a favorite activity.

4. Turning off my iPhone. It’s my pager, my email, my phone, my to-do device. Unplugging helps me refocus.

3. Dressing up and going out for dinner. High heels make me forget my worries (and focus on how much my feet hurt!).

2. Playing my violin. This has always been my outlet for every emotion, high and low, a way to work it out and express myself in a way I deeply love.

1. Praying and counting my blessings. This is my favorite for so many reasons, mostly because I can do it any time, in any situation, and find renewed strength, peace and calm.