If you’re a new parent, you’ve probably realized by now how important your relationship with your pediatrician is. You run to her for advice on every little thing concerning your child: when you think your baby isn’t breathing right, when she doesn’t poop every day, or when (the panic!) she gets her very first runny nose.
Pediatricians are indeed your partners when it comes to raising your child. However, Dr. Anna Lisa Lopez-Gabriel, pediatrician at the Makati Medical Center and Medical Center Parañaque, and owner of MommyDepotOnline.com says there are a few things pedias wish you knew.
1. The body has an innate and natural power to heal itself. “Not every single symptom has to be addressed by a certain medication,” says Dr. Lopez-Gabriel. When your child reaches preschool age, you will notice that he will be coughing and sniffling more than ever before. If your child isn’t weak, has no loss of appetite, and is behaving normally, do not panic and ask your pediatrician for medicine right away. Proper rest, diet, and vitamins may already do the trick.
2. You can mold your child’s interests and choices when it comes to activities and food. “A lot of parents come to me complaining that their children are watching TV all day, that they're always on the computer and so on,” shares Dr. Lopez-Gabriel. “Sometimes, I ask them, ‘Well, who's in control?’. Or they complain that their children are always eating junk food. Well, who's giving them that?” You have the power and responsibility over your child’s health and brain development. Your child doesn’t know any better, but you do.
3. Stop using the doctor to scare your child into behaving. Sure it may work when you want your child to obey at that very moment, but what happens when you need to see the doctor for real? Will you let your child believe that he has done something wrong when he has to do something that is actually good for him? You’ll only confuse him and maybe even instill a lifelong fear of seeing the doctor—which will be a problem later in life.
4. Focus on prevention rather than cure by eating right. “Give importance to the kind of food your child eats,” says Dr. Lopez-Gabriel. Most Filipino households have house help, “So it shouldn’t be very hard to prepare home-cooked meals,” she adds. “If only parents knew how many diseases could be prevented just by eating right. In my practice, when a baby is six months old and we try to introduce semi-solids, I always stress that cooking it yourself is so much better and safer than giving baby food out of the box or bottle. For bigger kids, this also means getting them used to home-cooked meals rather than fast food and food with preservatives.” Dr. Lopez-Gabriel adds that she has also encountered parents who think eating a lot is good enough, even if it’s a lot of hotdogs or pancit canton. She stresses that your child must eat healthy food. If he eats a lot of junk and preservatives, he’s not eating right.
5. Visit the doctor even if your child isn’t sick. “Don't wait till you notice something out of the ordinary or when they're sick,” says Dr. Lopez-Gabriel. “Even on regular checkups, we can tell whether they're growing and gaining appropriately and maybe pick up something that only a trained eye can see.”
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Olivia Yao has been writing ever since she can remember. She has written for health, teen, parenting, and children's magazines. Her latest endeavor is being a mom to her three-year-old daughter—her toughest assignment yet.
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