Exciting Work -- BabyShrink's Updates

Whew, I've been busy! Make sure to check me out all month on ParentsConnect.com, the Nick Jr parenting blog. You know, "We're not perfect, we're parents." We had an awesome connection over my "Good Enough" parenting posts, and it's exciting to interact with so many of their families. It was all made possible by the fab folks at Learning Care Group -- you probably know them by their 1,000+ schools in the US, including ChildTime, Tutor Time, La Petite Academy, Montessori Unlimited, and The Children's Courtyard. I've been blogging for them on the LCG Blog Learning Together too. They have exciting plans for showing off their expertise with kids -- and they want my help. I'm honored and thrilled -- and I'll keep you posted as things develop.

I recently spent a bunch of time with the LCG folks on the mainland, creating a series of parenting videos. I'll post them here soon, and they'll also be on the LCG website. It was a wild ride, creating top-notch, scientifically-based, but accessible info for parents in the most professional, high-quality, high-tech media environment.

In the meantime, I'm expanding my Parent Coaching practice, and juggling not one, not two, but THREE kids' basketball team schedules. What the heck -- it's all good experience for my LCG writing -- they want to focus on work/life balance in the future, and my house is the perfect crucible to test out some new approaches.

Thanks for your continued support, and I hope you'll stick around to check out some of my parenting tips!

Aloha,

Dr. Heather The BabyShrink

Cool New Gigs

Is it possible that BabyShrink is approaching it's THIRD birthday? This site was launched with much anxiety on my part -- and also, great hopes and dreams. Sort of like having a REAL baby. Come to think of it, there are lots of similarities between writing a parenting column and having a baby -- the staggering amount of work -- 24/7 -- being one of them.

So as I was toiling away out here in my island home, pressing the "Publish" button every week and wondering whether anyone would even read my stuff, an interesting thing happened -- people DID start reading, and more importantly -- enjoying their parenting adventures a little more because of it.

So it comes with a great sense of satisfaction (and even joy) to announce the next step for me -- adding the title of "Expert", in affiliation with some pretty impressive folks. You've probably heard Dr. Oz talking about his great new health site, ShareCare, powered by some of the most prestigious names in the country. I'm excited to be on ShareCare -- here's my bio -- answering your questions about parenting, child development, and family life. It's a super user-friendly experience, so I hope you'll sign up today, along with the 200,000 others who have already jumped on board to Dr. Oz's Move It And Lose It personalized diet and fitness plan -- and countless others looking for real answers to health questions.

I'm also really excited to be featured alongside some awesome names in parenting and family health over at Parents.Com. They have a cool Q and A tool where you can submit questions -- and the panel of experts answers for you. Check me out on the same list with gurus like Dr. Harvey Karp (of "Happiest Baby on the Block" fame), Dr. Ari Brown (of the "Baby 411" series), and Dr. Alice Domar, a fellow shrink who's done tons of fantastic stuff on women's health at Harvard (among others).

Thanks for all of your support and encouragement -- as always, send me your parenting questions. In addition to these cool new ways to reach me,  you can always comment here, tweet me, or drop me an email so that we can arrange some individualized Parent Coaching for you and your family. I'd love to talk with you personally.

Aloha,

Dr. Heather The BabyShrink

And The Parent Coaching Winner Is...

Folks, this was a tough decision! I got lots of entries, both on BabyShrink and submitted by email. But the top two were clearly AMBER, a single Mom struggling with a clingy toddler, and JEN M., with her crusty, stinky, bath-hating offspring. Yay for the winners!

So what I decided to do was to give EACH OF THEM a FREE 45-minute session! A 45-minute session -- worth $115 -- should be enough to help them make some good progress with their toddlers. And stay tuned -- I'm asking both of them to give me their HONEST and COMPLETE reviews afterward, to post here on BabyShrink. I believe in Parent Coaching so much that I'm happy to be completely open in all my client reviews. I'm not satisfied until my clients are 100% satisfied. I thrive on your parenting challenges, folks!

Thanks for all your entries and votes. If you didn't win this time, I still hope you'll sign up for Parent Coaching. My latest case involves a Mom who's struggling with guilt as she tries to decide how to balance her attention between her toddler and her new baby. Who needs her more? Can she be enough for BOTH children? Will one of them suffer if she inadvertently gives too much attention to the other? We're working on a plan to realistically juggle both kids, increase her parenting confidence, and improve her own "mother's intuition" about who needs what (and when). Hit the "Parent Coaching Packages" next to my photo to find out more.

And Amber and Jen, congratulations! I can't wait to talk with each of you!

Aloha,

Dr. Heather The BabyShrink

Enter to Win Free Parent Coaching, BabyShrink Style!

Got a baby, toddler, or preschooler -- and a dilemma? Want some feedback -- geared towards your hopes, needs and family style?

I've helped thousands of families, and by popular demand, I'm opening Parent Coaching up to my BabyShrink audience. To kick it off, I'm launching a contest. Sign up by commenting below -- tell me why YOU deserve a free BabyShrink double session with me -- one hour, by Skype, by phone or in person -- a $150 value. Be as detailed as you can. Tell me:

Your child's exact age and your specific problem ~

What you've tried that hasn't worked ~

Anything else that might be impacting your child (health, family changes, etc).

Remember: Parent Coaching is NOT therapy -- just real-world solutions for everyday families. All of my suggestions are based on solid science -- plus my experience as a Parenting Psychologist, and raising 4 young children. Entries will be accepted in the comments section of this post until MONDAY, OCTOBER 4. And if you don't need Coaching, please VOTE for your favorite entries by commenting too.

I'd love to talk to you in person and help you out of your dilemma. Enter now, and I hope to talk with you soon!

Aloha,

Dr. Heather

The BabyShrink

My First Time in a National Parenting Mag -- Pregnancy Magazine

The current issue of Pregnancy, see me on Page 60 When I heard from Lisa Fields, a writer for Pregnancy magazine doing a story on "Nursing Must-Haves", I was afraid that we were about to see yet another story on how blissful it is for everyone to breastfeed their babies. As I've said here before, it's surprisingly difficult for many moms to nurse their babies -- moms who try EVERYTHING and still can't do it, despite every single effort to make it work. We hear from these moms here a lot, and they suffer unnecessary guilt over the difficulties they encounter.

But Lisa was interested in including a quote from me in which I at least am able to mention the issue of guilt and the pressure moms experience to "get it right".

It's also exciting for me as I embark on my quest to make important -- and useful -- parenting information more available. Parenting babies and young children can be difficult, and our generation of parents has to sort through a bunch of inaccuracies and propaganda about child development in the quest to be the best parents we can be. Conflicting messages about breastfeeding, potty training, discipline, TV, and other "hot button" issues make it stressful to feel good about making parenting decisions. I've done a lot of work to sort through the garbage and provide you with the most essential and helpful parenting information I can -- information that's vetted directly by me, a psychologist and child development expert, and mom to four young children. To that end, I'm happy to announce that I'm also being used as an expert source in upcoming issues of Parents and American Baby magazines, as well. I'm commenting on some of the most common problems we, as parents, face with our young ones -- and suggest what I hope are helpful ideas to make your life simpler and more satisfying, as parents.

Thanks to Lisa for giving me the opportunity to start to reach a wider audience, and to you for your ongoing support! You can pick up the June/July issue of Pregnancy in Target, and most bookstores and newsstands. (I'm on page 60.)

Aloha,

Dr. Heather The BabyShrink

Child Development: Update On The Whole Vaccine/Autism Thing

Just a quickie to point you to an update about the "doctor" who started all the craziness about the SUPPOSED link between the MMR vaccine and autism. The most lifesaving discovery EVER -- the vaccine

(My friend Esther runs the site -- a smart cookie and a doctor to boot -- look around her site a little bit, too):

mainstreamparenting.com

Remember, there are no guarantees when it comes to weighing the healthcare options for your family. But the more informed you are, the better prepared you will be to balance the pros and cons. For my money, vaccines are an easy bet.

Aloha,

Dr. Heather The BabyShrink

I Need Your Most Challenging Baby-Parenting Stories!

When our first child was 3 months old, a stranger in a coffee shop stopped to "ooh and aah" over her. "Is she your first?" He asked. When I nodded through my sleep-deprived haze, he went on to say, "A first child is always showered with love -- and anxiety." He didn't stay long enough to explain this pithy statement, but it really is true. Our hearts are rent open forever, exposed outside our bodies, by the vulnerability we now feel, and by the love and havoc wreaked by these tiny creatures. The first baby gets the brunt of our fears, projections, stress and worries. Becoming parents changes us from the inside out, and those early weeks and months are unique in our lives.

People, you've been good to me these past 2 years. I appreciate your support, your questions, and your stories. Now it's time for me to take the next step and announce my next project -- No, I'M NOT PREGNANT AGAIN. (Sheesh! I just had my fourth....give me a break people!) No -- I'm writing a book. And I need your stories for my book on -- what else? -- parenting babies.

I need the lessons you learned, the dilemmas that vexed you, the memories you'll carry with you forever. And I promise I'll share mine too. Please try to dig down in your memory for dilemmas, lessons learned (or not learned) and things you wished you'd known in those early weeks and months of parenting for the first time. And if you're living it now, even better -- what anxieties do you have? What challenges you most? Thanks in advance. Comment here, or email me.

As always,

With aloha,

Dr. Heather The BabyShrink

Aloha, Honolulu Advertiser Readers!

Can I brag for a minute, folks? I'm being featured in today's Honolulu Advertiser, in the Family Section. Zenaida Serrano was kind enough to use BabyShrink in her story about "Playing with Newborns". Our good friend and nanny Keri Duke is a professional artist and photographer (and my own professional lifesaver), and took this photo of our new baby and I having a fun time together. smallsashaandheathergood

If you're new to BabyShrink, welcome! I'm a Maui mom of four young children, and a licensed psychologist specializing in babies and young children. I've been answering reader questions here for two years now, so take a look around the site, and hit "Ask Dr. Heather" if you can't find an answer to your parenting dilemma. I'm happy to help!

And for those of you not lucky enough to live in Hawaii, here's a link to the Advertiser story.

Much mahalos, Zenaida!

Aloha,

Dr. Heather The BabyShrink

New Info on the Autism/Vaccine Issue

In an interesting development in the ongoing saga of the alleged link between vaccines and autism, the medical journal The Lancet is retracting the original study that proposed the idea that the MMR vaccine could cause the disorder. If you've been a BabyShrink reader for awhile, you know my stand on vaccines: They've saved millions of lives. It's just like any medical advance: There's a cost-benefit ratio to consider. And when you're talking about saving the number of lives that vaccines have saved, SIGN ME UP.

In terms of the supposed autism/vaccine link, I've always been skeptical. I want to know more about possible environmental and genetic causes, but I believe the reams of research done that show NO CAUSATION by vaccines. And I'm still wondering about the issue of autism recognition, diagnosis, and the increase of cases: Clinically, I see a lot of pressure to diagnose autism, and much greater willingness to give the diagnosis. If you're interested in more, here are a couple of links:

Here's a link to my other posts on autism and vaccines.

Here's a link to the CNN article on the retraction of the MMR/autism article by The Lancet.

Aloha, Dr. Heather The BabyShrink

All That Anxiety For Nothing!

Here's our new baby girl, 7 lbs, 13 ounces, 5 days old:

After feeling lousy all day, it finally occurred to me that -- duh -- it might be labor. It was then that I decided to head down to our local Safeway, which inexplicably has the only supply of H1N1 vaccines on the island, to get my shot. After that, the contractions started. The whole thing from that point on was very fast, and we were only at the hospital for 3 hours when she was born -- gratefully, without complications, and VERY easily. (And YES I had a form of an epidural, called an intrathecal, which worked wonders for me.)

The hospital was jammed with laboring mothers and newborn babies, so we got out of there early to recover at home. I am so fortunate to have a lot of helping grandparents at home, and so far the kids are adjusting nicely. But as with her older sibs, this baby is NOT much of a sleeper, so expect a meltdown from me in a couple of weeks when the sleep deprivation really starts to add up!

Thanks all for your good wishes and support. More soon!

Aloha,

Dr. Heather The BabyShrink

Parenting Tips: A Comprehensive List of Parenting Resources

Adrienne at NursePractitionerSchools.org contacted me to let me know about a comprehensive parenting resources list she's compiled. CHECK OUT HER "TOP 100 LIST" HERE. I like the breadth and quality of the sites she's selected and check in on many of the sites she's included on a regular basis (and aww, shucks, thanks for including BabyShrink, Adrienne!) Also, thanks to those of you who have been checking in on our progress on BABY # 4. I'm 34 weeks along, and although a distinct waddle has made it's way into my walk, so far so good -- with the baby, at least! I, on the other hand, wonder where my lungs went, as I can't seem to BREATHE in the summer heat, and the various aches and pains of pregnancy are making it near-impossible to sleep. Oh well, at least it's temporary...once the baby is born, I'll be able to get some sleep....HAH! However, I am truly grateful and amazed at the miracle of conception and development, and I cannot wait to meet this newest member of our family. There's nothing better than this!!!

Aloha,

Dr. Heather The BabyShrink

Pregnancy Help: Tips & Resources For Coping With Postpartum Depression

I'm not prone to depression; I'm more of an anxious type, with a tendency to overreact and sweat the small stuff. So when our (4th) baby is born (I'm 30 weeks along now, folks!), I'm anticipating some hormonal upheavals (as well as the excruciating sleep deprivation that comes along with a new baby), but not depression per-se. But as a clinician, I'm very concerned about the high rate of postpartum mood disorders, as well as the tendency of new mothers to ignore or deny their symptoms. Many of you have written to me, with stories of untreated PPD in your pasts, begging me to help get the word out to moms who might be experiencing the condition now. POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION IS ONE OF THE MOST TREATABLE DISORDERS WE KNOW. If you, or someone you know, might have PPD, PLEASE help her to get help...immediately. You can show her this article, which is a nice, straightforward review of the condition, and you can also listen to my 16-minute, free podcast on PPD.

And I know you don't read BabyShrink for a dose of politics, but the situation regarding health care in America is at a point of critical mass. Insufficient numbers of primary care services in this country result in our missing PPD far more than we diagnose it. This is especially true in rural and semi-rural areas -- where many of us live. We MUST reform our health care system to ensure that ALL women are screened for PPD -- and given the treatment that we know works -- for the benefit of their babies, their families, and themselves. And that will only happen if we reform health care to emphasize the prevention and wellness approaches that we know WORK. Treating PPD isn't the hard part. Reforming health care IS. But it must be done. Aloha,

Dr. Heather The BabyShrink

Child Development: Can't Our Kids Be "Normal"?

Living in Hawaii ain't bad. But one of the things I truly miss about living in Southern California is reading the LA Times. I especially love the Health section; I find things in there that I don't even come across in my geeky science-journalism review sites. My in-laws lovingly and patiently collect them for me, since I'm over 40 and still get a thrill from smudged newsprint on my hands. Lately I've been reviewing my lovely stack of Health sections, and I wanted to share this great article with you. It echoes a BabyShrink theme: We need to have REALISTIC expectations of our kids and their development. The pressure to "perform" these days, even in preschool, is ridiculous and even damaging. Accepting our kids (and ourselves), with all of our interesting variations and wrinkles, is the only way to see them eventually have a solid sense of self-acceptance, and to ultimately excel in areas where they're truly exceptional.

Here's the article. Let me know what you think!

Aloha,

Dr. Heather The BabyShrink

Pregnant with Baby #4 (and I Just Turned 41)

Dear Readers, This post isn't an emailed question from one of you. It's from me, your BabyShrink.

I can finally come out with the news I've wanted to tell you for 18 weeks now: I'm pregnant!

This has come as somewhat of a surprise to us, although a very welcome one. Many of you recall we originally went through infertility treatments to get this ball rolling, but needed no help with babies #2, 3, and now 4. So here we are: a 4-for-1 deal!

My age is not the least of it. As an old lady of 41, my OB chart has "Advanced Maternal Age" stamped all over it. I've gone through several rounds of genetics screenings, and all the anxiety that goes along with it. I had killer morning sickness (uh, ALL-DAY sickness) for several weeks. But the worst part has been keeping the secret: from you, my coworkers, and even my kids. But we finally feel safe -- at least safe ENOUGH -- to break the exciting news.

So thanks to all of you for your patience; I've been remiss in posting quite as often as I'd like, and my response time to your questions has stretched out a bit. But I've been accumulating some heavy-duty experience that I hope will continue to help make BabyShrink fun, interesting and new.

Depending on your interest and questions, I'll be posting some of the things I've learned these past several weeks. I expected to have a CVS (for early chromosomal testing) -- and didn't. Then I expected an amniocentesis -- and didn't have THAT, either. But there are some wild new screening procedures that helped us though that decision-making process, and these are all pretty new. I look forward to your questions about how to decide when, if, and how to make decisions about genetic testing in pregnancy, and all the strong emotions that can go along with the process.

And in the meantime, I've discovered that my good-old standby baby bottles -- the ones that have gotten us through 3 babies -- are no longer considered safe (due to the BPA). So I've got to learn about all the newest STUFF out there as well....and I LOVE baby "stuff". So I'll need your help in deciding what to buy (and what to skip) this time around.

I'll also be asking for advice from those of you with large families. Having #4 feels exciting -- but daunting. This is uncharted territory in both my family and my husband's, so we need all the help we can get!

Thanks to all of you for your support and encouragement, and I look forward to going on the rest of this exciting journey with you.

Aloha,

Dr. Heather The BabyShrink

Parenting Tips: The Challenges of Motherhood

Moms have too much pressure. (Sorry, Dads: you have too much pressure too. But I think society puts more of the burden on moms.) It aggravates me when the media (and even our neighbors and family) depict motherhood as some kind of utopia, and when we can't live up to that ideal, something must be wrong (with us). That's why I like to recommend writers who tell it like it is. I just came across this Oprah article and wanted to share it with you. Enjoy! And stay tuned: I have my own news to share with you in the next few days...!)

Click here for the Oprah article.

Aloha,

Dr. Heather The BabyShrink

The Generosity of Glenn Sakamoto

There are still more people to thank on this one-year anniversary of BabyShrink. My extremely talented, yet ever-humble friend Glenn Sakamoto has been a mainstay of support since before BabyShrink was even "born". I remember the day almost 18 months ago when I asked him for feedback about the project; I called him with a simple question about the design of my logo, and I wasn't even at all sure that BabyShrink was a viable idea. But I got much, much more than I ever hoped for; he spent two hours encouraging, praising, and guiding my ideas, and I hung up the phone with the confidence to GO FOR IT.

Since then, Glenn's been there. Not only did he create my AWESOME logo, but he's simply ALWAYS provided me with support and encouragement when I need it.

Glenn's portfolio and skills are impressive, and I know he did my logo as a favor for an old friend. I hope one day I can repay his generosity and support. Mahalo and aloha, Glenn!!!

Check out his talent here at GlennSakamoto.com.

Aloha, Dr. Heather The BabyShrink

Toddler Behavior: Baby's Sudden Fear of the Bath -- Another Hot Topic

One of the FAQs here at BabyShrink is about your toddler's sudden, inexplicable fear of the bath. Readers Noelle and Dana recently joined in the chorus of parents who are mystified about the radical change in their baby's bath-time routine. I've had plenty of first-hand experience with baby's bath fears, and I know it can be a hassle ("It interferes with our evening routine, and they NEED that bath!") and also worrisome ("She never got upset like this before -- is this a symptom of something much more concerning?") But when you understand the normal developmental process driving these fears, a little flexibility -- and empathy -- can go a long way to restoring your toddler's enjoyment of the bath. So thanks for your nice comments about this article, and for making it one of BabyShrink's most popular posts over the past year.

Click here to check it out!

Aloha,

Dr. Heather The BabyShrink

My Most Popular Post

There's no way I could do a one-year retrospective without starting with DadGoneMad's Danny Evans. Danny and his Hot Wife have been there for me from the beginning stages of BabyShrink, and have been endlessly supportive, inspirational and encouraging. When I was freaking out about my lack of technical abilities, Danny calmed me down. "You're doing just fine, Heh. This stuff isn't as difficult as you think it is. It's going to be awesome!" When I had no confidence in my writing, he was my editor extraordinaire. When I lost my way and wondered if anyone would find my blogging helpful, Hot Wife reassured me, gave me suggestions, and never fed me platitudes. I can always count on Sharon to tell it to me straight.

Danny inspired me to go online with BabyShrink as I saw him struggle with depression, and reveal his inner workings to the world in hopes that he could help others in the process. The note he hits with millions of readers worldwide convinced me that blogging can be a powerful way to help others -- and help ourselves in the process.

So if you missed my interview with Danny, here it is. Because of the power of the DadGoneMad readership, and the tsunami of traffic Danny sent me, this is my most-read post ever. Enjoy!

Aloha,

Dr. Heather The BabyShrink

A New Post for a New Year

Those of you who follow me here at BabyShrink haven't had much to follow lately. The economic crisis has hit my "day job" pretty hard, so like the rest of you, our family is struggling to come to terms with some tough new realities. The end result is -- fewer posts. But that doesn't mean my dedication has flagged. In fact, this week marks the ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY of BabyShrink, and I'm taking the opportunity to review the excitement of the past year, and thank you all for the success that this site continues to be.

BabyShrink started as an outlet for me to share my passion for understanding the development of babies, young children, and parents. In my practice, I evaluate and treat (mostly) toddlers whose development has somehow gone awry. Many of these cases involve complex problems like autism, chromosomal defects, trauma, or abuse. But the majority of questions I get about these children have less to do with their complex disorders -- and more to do with basic, "run-of-the-mill" child development and parenting issues. Parents in rural areas such as mine have little access to this kind support and information. So I decided to make my parenting suggestions and resources available online.

It's been a thrill to discover that parents all over the world have found helpful information on BabyShrink. Each day, I eagerly check my "stats" to see what parts of the world my readers are from: Latvia, Australia, Singapore, Turkey, Hong Kong, Trinidad and Tobago, and Canada are on today's list of visitors. And I'm especially thrilled to give a shout-out to all my American compatriots and readers; today I see you coming in from Yonkers, Berkeley, Des Moines, Anchorage, and a dedicated reader from Cranberry Township, PA who pored over 13 posts this morning. Aloha and mahalo to you all!

Over the next week, I'll be revisiting some of your all-time favorite posts...you might be surprised (as I am) at my "most-Googled" articles. I'll also give you a bit of an insider's glimpse into what it's been like for a shrink like me to reinvent herself as a blogger, with a shoestring budget and not a lick of technical know-how (all while juggling a marriage, three young children, and my PAYING shrink job). I hope I can inspire you to chase down your own dreams in the process...and continue to encourage you to let "good enough" be GOOD ENOUGH in our efforts to raise our kids.

For a trip down memory lane, I've included a link below to my very-first introductory post, published one year today. It's fun to see that, despite some unpredicted twists and turns, we've been able to stick to our goals and interests here. Enjoy!

Welcome To BabyShrink: March 6, 2008

Aloha,

Dr. Heather The BabyShrink

Attachment Parenting: Broadening the AP Debate into Vaccinations

We've had a lot of action around here regarding Attachment Parenting. The issue doesn't end at sleep training, babywearing, or extended nursing. It also is smack dab in the middle of one of the most contentious issues in parenting today...the issue of the safety of vaccinations. If you've read my posts here for long, my thoughts won't come as any surprise to you. I'm strongly pro-vaccination. And I evaluate toddlers all the time for autism. I realize that I may incur the wrath of some sadly misinformed readers out there, but I gotta tell ya: Vaccines have saved millions of lives. Case closed. (To me, at least.) If you haven't already, check out this post stating my thoughts on the issue.

Along with a mini-flood of reader questions about infant sleep, reader Julie posted this comment today, and I thought I would write about it because there's a lot of momentum going in this direction in the parenting press these days:

Hi, I also have a 7-month-old and I just did the sleep training with the Sleep Easy Solutions book. It has been a great experience! We actually bedshared for a bit, but it became very taxing in the evenings, as he could not go to sleep without me. He now sleeps longer and better and gets himself to sleep. We are now working on naps. Interestingly enough, he used to nap so much better next to a parent, but now he sleeps better if he gets himself to sleep. I think seven months was the perfect time for us to transition him to his crib and help him learn to sleep on his own.

I wrote about this on my personal blog, ilovemonsters.blogspot.com.

I heard about your blog on Mainstream Parenting Resources. I also have a new blog with some other folks called Rational Moms.

I’m very interested this whole AP thing–I have some major issues with Sears. So I was looking at your articles on this in preparation for my own post.

After reading her comment, I pulled a link to a fantastic article in the New York Times from the Mainstream Parenting site. It broadens the issue of Attachment Parenting into the issue of vaccinations. Check it out.

Can't wait for the fireworks.