Be extra careful with premature babies: Dr.Vaidyanathan

Dr. P. V. Vaidyanathan did his undergraduate in medicine and PG from Lokmanya Tilak Municipal Medical College and the Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital.

He started private practice in Chembur and has been practicing there for 22 years, treating children with various physical and psychological problems.

His parenting books are titled Make Your Child Stress Free, Managing the Unmanageable Child and Doctor, Why is My Baby Crying? His spirituality books are titled Spirituality Bytes and Arise Awake.

Dr.Vaidyanathan answered Sify readers’ queries related to the above in an exclusive chat. Read the transcript below.

My sister’s daughter is just 3 months an tends to cry a lot. Any guidelines for her?

Crying could be physical or emotional. Crying itself is not bad, but one needs to find out the reason behind the crying. If some serious physical problems is there, then that needs to be corrected. Do take the child and have her examined by a Pediatrician, so that some serious causes can be ruled out. Once there are no serious causes, then it might be just colic, or emotional craving.

I stay at Pune,  Dr. Where can I get the books written by you?

Most of the books are available on the online bookstores like flipkart, rediff, infibeam, indiaplaza. If you go to their sites and search with my name, you will get the book home delivered.

She will also be reaching her puberty soon. How can my wife guide regarding the same?

Your wife should talk to your daughter openly, telling her about all the physical and emotional changes that happen in puberty and must prepare her in advance. If not, children get very scared and might feel they have some disease or problem. Let them sit together and have a long chat and that will really help. And dont worry—today’s children know much more than what we knew at their age—they probably already know everything there is t oknow

Hello Doctor, My daughter is only 9 yrs but very fond of fast food. She always craves for panipuris, bhelpuris and pav bhaji.. How do I help her as a father to get get rid of this bad habit?

It is not easy, as all children nowadays love fast food. But it will be good to have some compromise formula with your child that they can eat once a week or once in a while. So that they will eat home food throughout the week and outside food on weekends. this can achieve some sort of balance. If we ban junk food, it can backfire. I have known children who lie or steal to have junk food.

I am really worried about my son that he might fall in some bad company some day, should I openly talk and discuss with him on this? Please guide.

Yes, please talk openly and with total honesty. No point in crying after something bad has happened. Tell him you are worried, tell him to be open and honest with you, tell him that whatever he does, he might get punished, but he will always be loved as usual.

How could I guide my adolescent children to chose right friends?

It is not easy for parents to decide who will be their children’s friends. That is why parents always give good values and good culture to their children when they are young, so that the child knows to make the right choice. Talking about friends always causes irritation for the child, so try and tell him i broad terms what is good or bad for him without being too pushy, but do keep a watch on who are his friends, what they do etc

Both my children have already started taking the pressure of making big in the future. And this sometimes takes a toll on their health. How could I help or guide them?

By loving them unconditionally, by accepting them as they are, by not having expectations from them, by telling them to do their best and not bother about results, by making them understand that each of us have a different role to play on earth and not to compete or try to be some one else, but to be themselves.

My daughter is 16 yrs. Can she still increase her height? If yes then how?

Girls usually grow till the age of 16 while boys grow till 18. Some marginal increase might happen, but usually by 16 the bones fuse and height is almost complete.

Good afternoon Doctor, my son is 15yrs, he is addicted to internet, and because of this he does not indulge in any outdoor activities. Please help.

Internet addiction is on the rise and is a big problem. You will have to talk to your child and come to some compromise, so that he can do his internet and play outside. He will not give up his surfing, but might be willing to compromise, if you understand him and don’t just shout at him.

How can spirituality help children?

Spirituality can help everyone, not only children, by teaching them good value systems, teaching them awareness, alertness, teaching them acceptance and self worth. Spirituality also teaches them to have an attitude of let go and to have complete trust in some higher power, so that they can hand over all their problems to this higher power—whom we call God—and become free from worry and anxiety

Please share your guidance for making my child who is 13 yrs old stress free.

The main cause of stress today is working parents who are not available for the child, educational pressures, too much competition, lack of sleep and proper food, too much expectation from the child from parents and teachers, Internet and mobile phones and peer pressure. Once you know the reasons, you have to tackle what is bothering your child. Be open, be friendly and always love your child unconditionally and keep communication open and honest.

Also please advice on the misconceptions and facts related to a child’s growth.

There are too many misconceptions and myths related to growth. My advice would be when in doubt, contact your doctor, so that he can give you the right information and avoid problems for you

Please share the tests/ examinations to monitor an infant’s growth and care.

There are a lot of tests and examinations to monitor growth. It is better to have regular check ups with your Pediatrician, as he is qualified and can make proper assessments. If you make a wrong assessment, your child will unnecessarily have to suffer. Better leave it to the professionals.

What precautions can be taken by parents to avoid developmental disorders in children?

Many of the development disorders have a genetic origin, or are because of abnormalities in the brain. It may not be possible to prevent many of them, once the child is born, but awareness about the child can help in early detection and good management

What would be your advice doctor to the parents of premature babies?

They have to be extra careful To see that the baby does not become cold, to see that the baby is well fed and is putting on weight regularly, repeated check up with Pediatrician and avoiding too many people from coming in contact with the child and hand washing before lifting the baby

Any common complications related to the birth weight of a child?

Yes, low birth weight children do have a stormy course in the first few days. They are more prone to complications, infections, jaundice etc Even later on, they might have delayed development and poor weight gain.

Any advice on the vaccinations for 6 month old baby?

Vaccinations are fixed by The World Health Organization and The Indian Academy of Pediatrics. Pl consult your doctor, as there are a lot of compulsory and optional vaccines available today . The list is long and a detailed discussion is needed before going ahead.

My friends child is already 5 yrs but does not speak. what is your advice on him? Does he need speech therapy?

Yes, he definitely needs speech therapy. Latest by two and half to three years, a child should be speaking normally.

What is the right age when a child should start speaking or repeating at least small words?

By one year, a child starts to say words like mama papa tata. By one and a half, he is able to join two words—come her, go there etc. By two to two and a half, he is usually joining three or more words. By three to three and a half, they can tell small stories.

Hi Dr.Vaidyanathan, I have a baby of 8mnths, I have a few questions for you. Please help. Why does my baby always insist on being held?

Many babies love and get used to being held as they feel safe and secure. And we are the ones who put the habit by lifting them every time they cry. For a baby, any new practice becomes a habit in a couple of days.

As a mother, how should I deal with sibling rivalry in my children?

Always a difficult task. The elder one needs a lot of support and reassurance as he feels that now the new baby has come, he might be thrown out of the house. Repeated reassurance is needed. and spend more time with the elder one

Any advice to avoid skin rashes in children in summer as they tend to play in broad sunlight?

Give them a bath twice or thrice a day, and use some good prickly heat powder. Give them lot of fluids to drink and avoid too much sun exposure.

Dr. we are about to go on a long vacation with our two children aged 5yrs and 9yrs to Chandigarh. And as you are aware it is going to be very hot and humid there, any advice on the diet care for children?

Drink lots of fluids, avoid sun exposure, eat light and take rest in between

How is organic foods for children?

Organic food or food grown without pesticides is good, not only for children but for everyone else too.

Do I need to arrange some kind of conducive sleeping arrangement for my new born baby?

Not really. If you can put your child to sleep next to you, and keep a small light on, things will improve. Children need the mother to be around and that is the main thing

What foods should I abstain from feeding a child before he turns one year old?

Most of the foods available at home can be given to a child from the age of 6 months onwards. Only those that cause allergy should be avoided. And those that need to be chewed. There are no hard and fast rules, provided your child can swallow the food

I have a new born baby. What are the ways to soothe the crying baby? Pls help. He cries a lot Doctor.

You could read my book titled “Doctor, why is my baby crying? by Rupa Publications. Children cry for two main reasons–hunger and stomach pain or colic. Both can be managed by feeding judiously, burping and some carminative drops

Is it normal for a child to get attracted towards the opposite sex before he reaches puberty?

Yes, children can get attracted to members of the opposite gender before puberty, but this becomes intense after they reach puberty

How to tackle embarrassing questions from children?

The best way is to be honest and tell him the truth in a simplified way, so that he can understand. If you avoid the question, he will seek other sources

Some tips on the eating habits for my 10 yr old son please?

Nothing specific—let him eat what he likes, within he framework of home food. eating out once in a while is ok, but if he sticks to breakfast, lunch and dinner at home, he should be ok

Except TV and internet what are the best indoor and outdoor recreation activities for my 10 yr old son?

Indoor activities could include going back to old board games like chess and carrom. Reading and writing are also v good. Outdoor activities would depend on his likes—football, cricket, tennis, swimming —whatever he likes and enjoys

How do I decide on a good Pediatrician?

Most often, through word of mouth. Most patients find their doctor with reference from another mother, who is satisfied and whose child has been well taken care of by the doctor

Hello Dr.Vaidyanathan, My kid is 10 yrs old. He gets easily stressed out daily due the competition he faces daily for good performance in studies. What is the right way to deal with this?

Stress has become a part and parcel of life. Children often get stressed bcos of parent’s expectation and feeling that parents might love them less if they don’t succeed. If you can assure your child that your love is unconditional and ask him to do the best without bothering about results, he should feel better

Hi sir what is best diet for 4 old girl which include all protein and nutrients

Ideally, a child should eat three or four big meals, like us. And the best food I have seen is the traditional food that is cooked in your family. All traditional food—dal, rice, roti, vegetables etc is usually well balanced and that is why it has carried on for so long. So, go for a good mixture of cereals, vegetables, fruits and some nuts and dry fruits.

Dear Sir, My son is 3 years young, very active, but he has just 12 kg weight, below average height. He eats well but he is fussy abt milk. pls. advise me wht shd i do for his over growth. I have tried pediasure too but no result………

Your child’s weight and height might be slightly less, but a lot of growth depends on genetics and metabolism. I would advise you not to worry too much and give him a balanced diet. Today, our problems are more of overweight than underweight, so don’t worry too much.