Being a parent isn’t an easy job. Whether it’s your first time or you have multiple children, each experience feels new and raises a brand new set of questions. Ever wondered what to do if your child is allergic to regular milk, or when to start looking for child care, if you choose to do so? Dr. Tanya Altmann has all of the answers.
In her new book, Baby & Toddler Basics: Expert Answers to Parents’ Top 150 Questions, Altmann–alongside the American Academy of Pediatrics–narrowed down a list of the top 150 questions they have been asked multiple times by parents and patients, which she says was no easy feat.
“I’ve been seeing patients and talking to parents for about 20 years and there are hundreds if not thousands of questions that parents ask, but over and over again, the same questions seem to keep popping up. As a pediatrician…you end up repeating yourself a lot throughout the day,” Altmann says. “I surveyed pediatricians and parents [and] I also talked to all of the pediatricians at UCLA, and came up with a list that we all agreed were the top 150 questions that parents ask their pediatrician.”
Narrowing down the questions into specific categories, such as skin, vaccines, formula feeding, and more, Altmann made it easier than ever for parents to get their concerns answered since a lot of the time, the types of questions parents ask typically fall under a general category–whether they know it or not.
“I find that questions do come in groups,” Altmann says. “I teach residents at UCLA and one day, we’ll talk about fevers in kids or illnesses and the next day, it’ll be about constipation or poop, and then it’ll be about feeding.”
Rather than having to read chapters on specific topics, Altmann’s question and answer format allows parents to quickly find what they are looking for so they don’t have to read five or more pages to get their answer.
“I always love the Q&A format because you can look in the index, look at the chapter, find your question, and read the answer,” Altmann says. “That’s what pediatricians do all day long: Answer questions, field phone calls, and nowadays, there [are] emails as well, so the Q&A format is always a nice setting to read no matter what the topic is.”
Altmann believes that what sets her book apart from all the other baby books out there is that the answers given are backed by science with the additional help of her own personal experience as a mother to her three boys: Avrick, 12, Collen, 10, and Maxton, 3.
“When I look back at books I’ve written and news segments I’ve done before I had kids, I think ‘What was I talking about?’ because although I knew the medicine, I didn’t really know the practicality of it,” Altmann says. “For instance, I used to say ‘If your child slips and falls and gets a goose egg on their head, put ice on it.’ But now, as a parent, I know that child is not going to let you put ice on their head, so I have to say ‘If they’ll let you.’”
As a pediatrician and mother herself, Altmann knows that when a problem arises with a child, it can be stressful, but if she could give one piece of advice, it would be to “trust your instincts.”
“People have been having babies forever, before the internet, before swaddle blankets and bouncy chairs that calm your baby and rock them to sleep,” Altmann says. “If you feel that something isn’t right or you’re concerned, then definitely call your pediatrician [because] that’s what we’re here for. If you’re concerned, don’t wait because there are serious things that do come up and I’d rather have someone wake me up and me tell them ‘You know, it’s actually okay, we can follow it up in the morning’ then have them not call me and something more serious happens.”
At the end of the day, Altmann hopes that the advice she provides helps parents determine whether they need to go to their pediatrician or if they can solve the issue on their own, as long as they steer clear of “Dr. Google.”
“I hope that parents enjoy it as an easy and accurate source to look up questions that they have so they don’t turn to Dr. Google,” Altmann says. “While it’s amazing that there’s so much information at your fingertips, there’s also a lot of fake news out there. You want to make sure that people have an accurate source, but also know when to call their pediatrician. I hope by breaking it down to the simple categories, they can realize that if the answer isn’t there, then they can gather information to get what they need or find out these are one of the times where ‘I do need to take my baby in to be seen or call my pediatrician.’”
For more information on Dr. Tanya Altmann and her book, Baby & Toddler Basics: Expert Answers to Parents’ Top 150 Questions, visit drtanya.com!