How should we feed our baby if we’re running low on money?

How should we feed our baby if we’re running low on money?

Lost jobs and business during the COVID-19 outbreak has left many families struggling to pay for groceries, including infant formula. Food pantries and public support programs such as WIC and SNAP are available, but may not cover everything a family needs to stay healthy. Also, families who find themselves suddenly in need may not qualify for some of these public support programs.

The AAP strongly believes that good nutrition is essential for a healthy future for infants and small children. Putting their needs first is critical, and there are ways to make this more affordable.

  • Here are some tips to help families struggling to afford infant formula:
  • If your child is younger than 12 months of age, ask your pediatrician’s office if they can urgently get you a small supply from the local formula representatives or a local charity. Some formula companies have patient assistance programs that your pediatrician can help you find. Your local WIC office may also be able to help.
  • If possible, buy formula online or in the largest sizes available at retail stores, and watch for sales. Remember to only buy formula from well-recognized distributors and pharmacies. Avoid formula sold by individuals or on auction sites.
  • For most babies, it is OK to switch between different milk-based formulas, including store brands, unless your baby is on a specific, highly hydrolyzed one such as Alimentum or Nutramigen. If you are unsure, talk with your pediatrician.
  • Never water down formula! Always follow label instructions or those given to you by your pediatrician. Watering down formula is dangerous and can cause nutritional imbalances in your baby and lead to serious health problems.

Can I give my baby alternative milk products if I can’t afford infant f​ormula?

Whole cow’s milk and dairy alternatives are not recommended for infants under 12 months of age. It is best to stick to breast milk and/or infant formula throughout your baby’s first year, except in a very brief emergency. Food banks, local WIC offices, and other community resources are usually able to help in a food emergency. Keep in mind that eligibility for public support programs like WIC and SNAP may change, so keep in contact with these agencies to make sure you can participate.

Toddler formulas are not necessary for infants over 12 months of age. Cow’s milk or fortified soy milk products are less expensive than formula, meet a toddler’s need for milk products, and provide adequate minerals and protein.

Can I make my baby’s food myself?

The AAP strongly advises against homemade formula. Although recipes for homemade formulas circulating on the internet may seem healthy and less expensive, they may not be safe and do not meet your baby’s nutritional needs.

However, you can make your own baby food when you start your baby on solids, at about 6 months of age. There is no need to rely upon pre-made baby food that may be more expensive. If you make your own baby food, be sure you include enough protein and iron, two key nutrients for your child’s growth. Also do not give honey to an infant under 1 year of age and avoid foods that are choking hazards.

Remember

Your pediatrician cares about your child’s health and is available even during the COVID-19 outbreak. Always feel free to talk with your pediatrician about any concerns you have with feeding your baby.


By Steven A. Abrams, MD, FAAP, a board-certified pediatrician, Director of the Dell Pediatric Research Institute, and a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Texas at Austin. The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

Talking to children about COVID-19

There’s a lot of news coverage about the outbreak of COVID-19 and it can be overwhelming for parents and frightening to kids. The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents and others who work closely with children to filter information and talk about it in a way that their child can understand.

These tips can help:

  • Simple reassurance. Remind children that researchers and doctors are learning as much as they can, as quickly as they can, about the virus and are taking steps to keep everyone safe.
  • Give them control. It’s also a great time to remind your children of what they can do to help – washing their hands often, coughing into a tissue or their sleeves, and getting enough sleep.
  • Watch for signs of anxiety. Children may not have the words to express their worry, but you may see signs of it. They may get cranky, be more clingy, have trouble sleeping, or seem distracted. Keep the reassurance going and try to stick to your normal routines.
  • Monitor their media. Keep young children away from frightening images they may see on TV, social media, computers, etc. For older children, talk together about what they are hearing on the news and correct any misinformation or rumors you may hear.
  • Be a good role model. COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate and neither should we. While COVID-19 started in Wuhan, China, it doesn’t mean that having Asian ancestry – or any other ancestry – makes someone more susceptible to the virus or more contagious. Stigma and discrimination hurt everyone by creating fear or anger towards others. When you show empathy and support to those who are ill, your children will too.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2020). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

Co-Parenting Through COVID-19: Putting Your Children First

Parenting is challenging enough when both parents live in the same home. When they live apart, as after a separation or divorce, things can get even harder. Parents may disagree on such basic issues as sleep, nutrition, and discipline with added layers of negative emotions like anger, frustration, and sadness. All of these can interfere with effective communication and problem-solving.

While a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic can add to the stress of co-parenting, it can also help parents overcome their issues and work together to safeguard the children they both love.

Special considerations for two-household families

Ideally, co-parents should have a plan i​n place to help them problem-solve in time of crisis. If they do not, they may have no idea how to talk calmly or make decisions together under stressful conditions. Many problem-solve the same way they did when they were together. They may argue, withhold, and possibly bully, when what they need to do is stand back and unselfishly ask themselves, “How can we work together to keep our child safe?”

Until this crisis is over, physical distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19 may require divorced or separated parents to temporarily change the way they share their children’s time as they normally would.​​​

Key questions ​to ask​

Here are some questions that can help co-parents talk through the possible need to adjust their child’s visitation schedule:

  • Is it truly in the child’s best interest to continue to follow the parenting plan that is in place, sending the child back and forth between homes?
  • Is one parent better able to support home schooling than the other? For example, is internet service equally available at both homes?
  • Does one parent have a job that involves more contact with the public and therefore more risk for household members?
  • Who else lives in the home, and how much contact do they have with the public?
  • Is a household member in a high-risk group: over the age of 60, suffering from underlying medical conditions, or immunocompromised?
  • Does one home have more space or better access to safe outdoor spaces where children can play and get exercise while keeping the recommended physical distance?

Notice that these questions do not take previous parenting plans into consideration. Instead, they ask parents to honestly consider what changes must be made now to keep their children and others in the home safe.

This becomes especially difficult when parents worry about giving up any time with their child for fear it means their son or daughter may prefer the other parent, or that the other parent is manipulating the situation. Another sticky question can be whether more child support must be paid if the parenting plan changes. Also, many parents worry that if they allow the parenting plan to be adjusted, they will never get the time back.

​​​How co-parents can work together

  • Keep communication open. Answer all forms of communication (phone calls, texts, emails, etc.) with your co-parent in a timely manner.
  • Don’t keep score.​​
  • Enter each conversation with finding a solution together as your goal.
  • Stay socially connected while physical distanced. Schedule virtual visits between your co-parent and your child. Set a time and make the child available for video calls.
  • Once this crisis is over, set aside extra time so that the non-custodial parent and child can become comfortable together again.

Remember

Everyone is having to adapt to some uncomfortable changes during this pandemic. It has disrupted childcare, school and work, shifting the patterns of our lives. Reassure your child that we will get through this, that some changes are only temporary, and most importantly, they are loved.


​​​​By: David Hill, MD, FAAP & Jann Blackstone, PsyD​. Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2020). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

Is it OK to call the pediatrician during COVID-19 even if I’m not sure my child or teen is sick?

Is it OK to call the pediatrician during COVID-19 even if I’m not sure my child is sick?

Yes! You should always feel free to call your pediatrician’s office, even during our current coronavirus pandemic. Your pediatrician cares about the health of your baby, child or teen and is happy to talk to you about anything from medicines and illnesses to injuries and behavior issues. This is why we entered medicine – and we want to hear from you! Now more than ever, it’s very important that families stay connected to their pediatrician and their medical home.
In the office

Even though families are staying home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, there are still important reasons why you may need to bring your child into the office, including:

  • Newborn visits after a baby is born.
  • To stay up-to-date on immunizations.
  • For hearing and vision screenings.
  • To monitor growth, blood pressure, and other vital signs.
  • To check labs such as for strep throat​ or anemia.
  • To check on developmental milestones.
  • To treat infections or injuries.
  • Adolescent health concerns such as menstrual care or depression​ screeing.

​​​Pediatricians are taking​ steps to make sure it’s as safe as possible for visi​ts that need to happen in person. Some offices have separated “sick” and “well” areas of their clinic or are having newborns come in early in the day, before any other patients. Calling ahead is important so your pediatrician can advise you on the best way to come in.​​

For other kinds of appointments, many pediatricians are now offering video visits. Call your pediatrician’s office to see if this is available for your child or teen.

What to do if your child or teen gets sick

​If your child has been exposed to COVID-19, or you are concerned about your child’s symptoms, call your pediatrician immediately.​

Sometimes it’s hard to tell how sick your child is. Luckily, a trip to the hospital is usually not needed for a simple cold or cough, mild diarrhea, constipation, temper tantrums, or sleep problems. Call your pediatrician for any concerns you may have about your child’s health.​
Emergencies

If you feel you need to call 911, trust your instincts and call. Otherwise, it’s generally a good idea to check in with your pediatrician first. Sometimes they can help over the phone or will help coordinate other kinds of care for your child without going to the hospital.

Most of all, do not avoid calling your pediatrician or worry that a trip to the clinic or hospital will put you or your child at higher risk for COVID-19. Doctor’s offices and emergency departments are still seeing and treating patients and are following all recommended steps to keep patients and families safe.

We are here for you

We know parents are really scared. But pediatricians are still here, ready to help you care for your child. If your child or teen ​is sick or injured, or struggling emotionally, pick up the phone and call your pediatrician. We are working hard to make sure we can care for your child, while still keeping everyone safe. ​


From American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2020) by Jennifer Shu, MD, FAAP, a practicing pediatrician, author, and mom in Atlanta. Dr. Shu is co-author of Heading Home with Your Newborn and Food Fights. A frequent guest on national and local television, radio, and web-based programs, she is serves as medical editor for HealthyChildren.org, is the Living Well health expert for CNN.com, contributes medical information to BabyCenter and WebMD.com, and serves on the Parents magazine advisory board. ​Last Updated: 5/1/2020. The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

Getting Children and Teens Outside While Social Distancing for COVID-19

​Because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19​) pandemic, many schools are now closed for the rest of the academic year. You may have created a schedule for your family while everyone’s home. Ideally, it includes some outdoor time.

But what can you actually do outside with your children while staying at a safe distance from others? Think nature exploration!

Read on for some tips to help you and your children get a healthy dose of nature while still practicing good social distancing.

Exploring nature while social distancing

Nature all around us. Nature exploration with proper social distancing can happen in your yard, a table-top garden, or even virtually (though not with all of the benefits).

Bringing out baby. Even infants and toddlers can play and learn in nature. If you will be in public spaces, it may be safest to keep them in a carrier or a stroller. If they are in your own private space, it’s fine to have them explore even more.

  • Nature sculptures can be built with twigs, leaves, cones, rocks and more by sticking the collected items into a play dough base. Help your child put objects in the play dough and notice what kind of patterns are created by different items.
  • Biking with the family in your neighborhood can be a good option if you can keep your distance from others during your ride. If you have a child bicycle trailer, get some exercise while enjoying the outdoors with your baby in tow.
  • ​Playing in mud is very fun for young children and helps them develop their senses and motor skills. You can give your child old pots, pans, utensils, and other household tools to move, pour, and squish the mud for imaginary play.

Challenge older children and teens. Stay engaged with the outdoors as a family. Take advantage of this time to bond over activities everyone enjoys.

  • Hold a nature scavenger hunt for the family. Include categories like plants, trees, animals, birds. Who can create the longest list of the signs of spring that they find? How many different flowers can you photograph?
  • Create a nature journal so they can describe what they see from a comfortable spot outside. Encourage them to write how that makes them feel or draw what they see.
  • Have a ball. Kicking a soccer ball or playing catch together can be fine if you are apart from each other and don’t share any sports equipment with others outside your household.

The benefits of being outside

Getting outside provides more than a fun break for children and teens. It is also good for their physical and mental health and development. For example, children and teens who spend time enjoying nature can be:

Physically healthier. Children play harder outdoors than indoors. Especially without the structure of preschool, school or afterschool activities, children especially need opportunities to move. Children who spend more time outdoors have improved motor development. More outdoor time is linked with lower obesity rates.

More engaged in learning. Playing outside promotes more curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking. Studies have found that children who spent more time in nature exploration had improved learning outcomes.

More positive in behavior. Research has found that when children spent time in natural settings they had less anger and aggression. Impulse control also improves. This might be especially important when normal routines have changed for children.

Mentally healthier. Stress and depression are reduced for all people who spend time in nature. Children show increased focus and reduced symptoms of for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Reme​mber

Take advantage of the healing power of nature—in your own backyard or on a walk. Just remember to follow local public health guidance and keep at least 6 feet from others outside your family. Wash your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer once you return from your adventure. Getting outdoors, being in nature, and moving our bodies is good for everyone!


Article by Danette Glassy, MD, FAAP and Pooja Tandon, MD, FAAP. Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2020). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

Social Distancing: Why Keeping Your Distance Helps Keep Others Safe

As the spread of COVID-19 continues, communities are being asked to reduce close contact between people. This is called social distancing, and it’s an important and effective way to slow down the spread of this virus. Here’s why.

“Social distancing” for all fa​milies
Because COVID-19 spreads from person to person, reducing the ways people come in close contact with each other is essential. Social distancing means staying home as much as possible and avoiding crowded, public places where close contact with others is likely. This is why stay at home orders are in place in so many communities, canceling events and gatherings of more than 10 people and closing shops, restaurants and bars. It’s also why many schools have moved to online learning. For essential trips like grocery shopping, the CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering​ and staying at least 6 feet away from others.​

Self-isol​​​ation
COVID-19 can spread from person to person even before symptoms start. So, if someone in your family starts to feel even slightly ill, run down, tired, or achy, it’s important to stay home and practice “self isolation.” This means limiting contact with others. If more severe symptoms develop, like a fever, cough or shortness of breath, call your doctor. They will let you know if a COVID-19 test is needed, and what the next steps should be. If it is believed someone in your family has COVID-19, quarantine will likely be recommended.

Quara​​ntine
Self-isolation and quarantine both mean you have no contact with the public. However, quarantine is the term used for those who were exposed to a person with COVID-19 but have yet to test positive. These people are asked to stay away from others for 14 days or longer, to make sure they do not spread the virus during this “pre-illness” or incubation period.

Why social distan​cing is important?
Social distancing is an essential way to slow down the spread of COVID-19. And it’s important that you follow the social distancing recommendations in your community, whether you’re in one of the high-risk groups or not.

​With schools closed and people working from home, it may be tempting to get kids together for pl​aydates or sleepovers, or to think that gatherings of more than 10 people are safe. But social distancing only works if we all participate. And slowing down or preventing the spread of the virus will save lives.​​​​

​Remem​​ber
The spread of COVID-19 has been rapid and federal, state, and local governments are doing whatever is necessary to protect all of us from getting sick. While most people who become infected will have symptoms similar to a cold or the flu, and children seem less affected by the virus than adults, we all are responsible for protecting those at higher risk. Steps like social distancing may feel like an inconvenience, but it’s the best way right now to protect our family, friends, and neighbors who may be vulnerable.

If you are concerned that someone in your family may be at higher risk, you can contact your doctor to discuss what preventative measures may be appropriate for you.



Written by Corinn Cross, MD FAAP, is an American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) spokesperson, an active member the academy’s Council on Communications and Media, a Member-At-Large of her local California AAP Chapter-2 and a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2020). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

Cloth Face Coverings for Children During COVID-19

​​T​o protect ourselves and others from COVID-19, the CDC now recommends ​cloth face coverings be used when outside. But what about children? Read on for answers to some frequently asked questions about cloth face coverings and children during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why are people wearing cloth face coverings right now?
Since so many people who have COVID-19 don’t have symptoms, wearing cloth face coverings reduces the chance of transmitting the virus through the spray of spit or respiratory droplets. This is especially true for when someone with COVID-19 comes within 6 feet of you, which is the range of transmitting infection through acts like sneezing or coughing.​​

Should children wear cloth face coverings?
Children under the age of 2 years should not wear cloth face coverings.

When do children need to wear cloth face coverings?
There are places where children should wear cloth face coverings. This includes places where they may not be able to avoid staying 6 feet away from others. For example, if you have to take them to the doctor, pharmacy, or grocery store.

However, there are other places where children do NOT need to wear a cloth face covering:

  • At home, assuming they have not been exposed to anyone with COVID-19.
  • Outside, as long as they can stay at least 6 feet away from others and can avoid touching surfaces. For example, it’s fine to take a walk as long as your children stay 6 feet away from others and do not touch tables, water fountains, playground equipment or other things that infected people might have touched.​

Caution: you may need to reconsider the use of cloth face coverings if:

  • The face coverings are a possible choking or strangulation hazards to your child.
  • Wearing the cloth face covering causes your child to touch their face more frequently than not wearing it.

Staying home and physical distancing is still the best way to protect your family from COVID-19. Especially for younger children who may not understand why they can’t run up toward other people or touch things they shouldn’t, it’s best to keep them home. Children who are sick (fever, cough, congestion, runny nos​e, diarrhea, or vomiting) should not leave home.

What if my child is scared of wearing a face covering?
It’s understandable that children may be afraid of cloth face coverings at first. Here are a few ideas to help make them seem less scary:

  • Look in the mirror with the face coverings on and talk about it.
  • Put a cloth face covering on a favorite stuffed animal.
  • Decorate them so they’re more personalized and fun.
  • Show your child pictures of other children wearing them.
  • Draw one on their favorite book character.
  • Practice wearing the face covering at home to help your child get used to it.

For children under 3, it’s best to answer their questions simply in language they understand. If they ask about why people are wearing cloth face coverings, explain that sometimes people wear them when they are sick, and when they are all better, they stop wearing them.

For children over 3, try focusing on germs. Explain that germs are special to your own body. Some germs and good and some are bad. The bad ones can make you sick. Since we can’t always tell which are good or bad, the cloth face coverings help make sure you keep those germs away from your own body.

One of the biggest challenges with having children wear cloth face coverings relates to them “feeling different” or stereotyping them as being sick. As more people wear these cloth face coverings, children will get used to them and not feel singled out or strange about wearing them.

What about children with special health care needs?

  • Children who are considered high-risk or severely immunocompromised are encouraged to wear an N95 mask for protection.
  • Families of children at higher risk are encouraged to use a standard surgical mask if they are sick to prevent the spread of illness to others.
  • Children with severe cognitive or respiratory impairments may have a hard time tolerating a cloth face covering. For these children, special precautions may be needed.

Is there a “right way” to wear a cloth face covering?
Yes. Place the cloth face covering securely over the nose and mouth and stretch it from ear to ear. Remember to wash your hands before and after you wear it and avoid touching it once it’s on your face. When back inside, avoid touching the front of the face covering by taking it off from behind. Cloth face coverings should not be worn when eating or drinking.

Wash cloth face coverings after each wearing.

What kind of cloth face covering is best?
Homemade or purchased cloth face coverings are fine for most people to wear. For children, the right fit is important. Pleated face coverings with elastic are likely to work best for kids. Adult cloth face coverings are usually 6×12 inches, and even a child-sized 5×10 inch covering may be too large for small children. Try to find the right size for your child’s face and be sure to adjust it for a secure fit.

Due to very limited supply now, professional grade masks like N-95 masks should be reserved for medical professionals on the front lines who have increased risk of exposure to coronavirus.


Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2020). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

PBS Kids Resources

Many of us know and love PBS for its children’s programming – Sesame Street, Wild Krats, Curious George, Arthur. Now, with kids home from school for this extended period of time, PBS is actually a great resource for more than just its shows. Check out PBS KIDS for:

PBS KIDS Daily – a weekday newsletter offering activities and tips you can use to help kids play and learn at home.

The PBS KIDS Video app offers on-demand educational videos, and a live stream of the PBS KIDS 24/7 channel. No subscription required.

The PBS KIDS Games app has nearly 200 educational games, which can be downloaded for offline play anytime, anywhere.

And, the PBS KIDS 24/7 channel offers anytime access to trusted educational series for kids ages 2-8.

Talking to Children About Tragedies & Other News Events

After any disaster, parents and other adults struggle with what they should say and share with children and what not to say or share with them.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) encourages parents, teachers, child care providers, and others who work closely with children to filter information about the crisis and present it in a way that their child can accommodate, adjust to, and cope with.

Where to Start – All Ages

No matter what age or developmental stage the child is, parents can start by asking a child what they’ve already heard. Most children will have heard something, no matter how old they are. After you ask them what they’ve heard, ask what questions they have.

Older children, teens, and young adults might ask more questions and may request and benefit more from additional information. But no matter what age the child is, it’s best to keep the dialogue straightforward and direct.​

Avoiding Graphic Details & Exposure to Media

In general, it is best to share basic information with children, not graphic details, or unnecessary details about tragic circumstances. Children and adults alike want to be able to understand enough so they know what’s going on. Graphic information and images should be avoided.

Keep young children away from repetitive graphic images and sounds that may appear on television, radio, social media, computers, etc.

With older children, if you do want them to watch the news, record it ahead of time. That allows you to preview it and evaluate its contents before you sit down with them to watch it. Then, as you watch it with them, you can stop, pause, and have a discussion when you need to.

Children will generally follow good advice, but you have to give them some latitude to make decisions about what they’re ready for. You can block them from seeing the newspaper that comes to the door, for example, but not the one on the newsstand. Today, most older children will have access to the news and graphic images through social media and other applications right from their cell phone. You need to be aware of what’s out there and take steps in advance to talk to children about what they might hear or see.

Talking to Very Young Children

The reality is that even children as young as 4 years old will hear about major crisis events. It’s best that they hear about it from a parent or caregiver, as opposed to another child or in the media.

Even the youngest child needs accurate information, but you don’t want to be too vague. Simply saying, “Something happened in a faraway town and some people got hurt,” doesn’t tell the child enough about what happened. The child may not understand why this is so different from people getting hurt every day and why so much is being said about it. The underlying message for a parent to convey is, “It’s okay if these things bother you. We are here to support each other.”

Talking to Gradeschool Children & Teens

After asking your child what they have heard and if they have questions about what occurred during a school shooting, community bombing, natural disaster, or even a disaster in an international country, a parent can say something such as:

“Yes. In [city], [state]” (and here you might need to give some context, depending on whether it’s nearby or far away, for example, ‘That’s a city/state that’s pretty far from/close to here’), there was disaster and many people were hurt. The police and the government are doing their jobs so they can try to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”

A parent can follow-up as needed based on the child’s reactions and questions.

Talking to Children with Developmental Delays or Disabilities

Parents who have a child with a developmental delay or disability should gear their responses to their child’s developmental level or abilities, rather than their physical, age. If you have a teenage child whose level of intellectual functioning is more similar to a 7-year-old, for instance, gear your response toward her developmental level. Start by giving less information. Provide details or information in the most appropriate and clear way you can.
Talking to Children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

What’s helpful to a child with an ASD may be different. For instance, the child may find less comfort in cuddling than some other children. Parents should try something else that does calm and comfort their child on other occasions. Ask yourself, “Given who my child is, his personality, temperament, and developmental abilities, what might work for him?”

Signs a Child Might Not Be Coping Well

If children don’t have a chance to practice healthy coping, a parent may see signs that they’re having difficulty adjusting. Some of things to look for are:

  • Sleep problems: Watch for trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, difficulty waking, nightmares, or other sleep disturbances.
  • Physical complaints: Children may complain of feeling tired, having a headache, or generally feeling unwell. You may notice your child eating too much or less than usual.
  • Changes in behavior: Look for signs of regressive behavior, including social regression, acting more immature, or becoming less patient and more demanding. A child who once separated easily from her parents may become clingy. Teens may begin or change current patterns of tobacco, alcohol, or substance use.
  • Emotional problems: Children may experience undue sadness, depression, anxiety, or fears.

Sometimes it can be hard to tell if a child is reacting in a typical way to an unusual event or whether they are having real problems coping, and might need extra support. If you are concerned, talk to your child’s pediatrician or a mental health professional or counselor.


Source: Adapted from an eHealthMD interview with David Schonfeld, MD, FAAP, Director of the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement and member of the AAP Disaster Preparedness Advisory Council. The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

Tips for Coping with a New Baby During COVID-19

All babies cry. Most babies cry a lot from two weeks to two months of age. Some cry more than others, and some cry longer than others. For many new parents, crying is one of the most stressful parts of coping with a newborn.

In some cases, extreme stress and a temporary lapse of emotional control in a caregiver can lead to actions that result in abusive head trauma. In fact, the most common trigger for abusive head trauma is simply a crying baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement on the medical aspects of abusive head trauma​ and points out that actions that lead to abusive head trauma are often the result of when caretakers experience stress and get to the end of their rope.

However, there is a bright side: The key to preventing actions that lead to abusive head trauma is to understand how common feelings of frustration, isolation, and exhaustion are during the first few months of an infant’s life.

HELPFUL TIPS

Usually, new parents can seek out social supports and external help—but what happens now, when we are all restricted in our movements and our contacts? What happens when grandparents can’t come over to help out, or when neighbors don’t stop by for a cup of coffee? What happens when families are hit with sudden job loss, loss of childcare, and other restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic?. Here are a few suggestions:​

  • Try all the soothing tricks. Crying babies want to be soothed. You may need to try a few things, over and over, before they calm. Try holding them, feeding them, swaddling them, gently rocking them, singing to them. If these don’t work, put the baby down and take a break. Be sure your baby is in a safe sleep environment (on their back on a firm sleep surface with a tight-fitting sheet, away from soft blankets, toys, pillows, and other bedding materials). While some babies cry for a long time, many parents are surprised at how rapidly babies will cry themselves to sleep.
  • Pay attention to your own needs. The challenges of new mothers can certainly feel overwhelming sometimes. Rest as much as you can—try sleeping when the baby does. Find time for yourself when your partner or other caring adult watches the baby. Put on your headphones, give a friend or relative a call, have a cup of tea, or just relax.
  • Connect with others. Social distancing during the COVID-19 outbreak ​can be isolating. Try video chats or social media to stay in touch. If you’re a friend or relative on the receiving end of these calls, listen first before offering suggestions. Imagine you are with the young parent, they are crying on your shoulder, and you are offering reassurance without any words. Keeping this image in mind can help you provide the social support that all new parents need.
  • Use your “helpers.” Engage older siblings as much as you can by encouraging them to be your special helpers, so they can help out in developmentally appropriate ways.
  • Seek help. Depression is the most common mental illness in the United States. If you had a history of depression before your baby was born, you may be at higher risk for postpartum depression. Speak with your provider sooner rather than later to help foresee this potential condition. Many doctors, nurses, and mental health providers are now set up for telehealth visits and may be able to help you by video or phone.
  • Reach out. If you are a friend, relative, or neighbor to a family with a newborn, this is the time to reach out. Think about ways you can help. In addition to social support, can you buy diapers or other baby supplies? Can you drop off food or treats for the siblings or adults? Can you safely supervise older children outdoors? Maybe they could come along with you when you walk your dog!
  • Help a co-worker out. If you are a co-worker of a parent returning to work (especially during social distancing) after parental leave, be kind and supportive. If you see or hear the baby on the call, say Hi!
  • Find a forum. New mothers may find it helpful to discuss their experiences with other new mothers. In addition to seeking help from friends, relatives, neighbors, and medical professionals, look for discussion forums and communities of moms dedicated to sharing problems, stories, and tips with each other online (see the list of resources below).

Your pediatrician is here to help. Never hesitate to call for advice. Your pediatricians is an excellent resource for understanding your baby and your own needs, including those related to postpartum depression.


Written by Robert Sege, MD, PhD, FAAP is a recent member of the AAP Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect. He is also a child abuse pediatrician at Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts. Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2020). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.