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Ask a Pediatrician

by Jillian Gordon of "Mamapedia"
Photo by: iStock

From newborns to adolescents, milestones to healthy habits, our resident pediatrician Dr. Stephanie Dekom answers your toughest questions. Need some expert advice? Submit your question through the comments below!

What’s the best way to deal with gas in newborns?

People often comment that their newborn is experiencing extreme gas pains, which can be quite distressing to families. A newborn’s intestines require time to adjust to food, and during this process many infants will grimace and cry shortly after a feed; additionally, their stomachs may sometimes seem bloated or distended. This problem is very common, so much so that I would say it is almost part of the normal newborn experience. That being said, there are over-the-counter gas drops which some families use and find some success with. Additionally, there are formulas made to be gentler on the stomach, and if your little one is struggling and formula fed, a change in this regard may also be helpful. If you are exclusively breastfeeding, some families experiment with the elimination of various foods from mom’s diet, most commonly dairy products.

How can I encourage my baby to start crawling?

Crawling is an exciting developmental milestone that usually occurs around 7 to 10 months. However, it is also important to note that this is one milestone a child may skip entirely. Some infants will go directly from sitting, to pulling themselves up to a standing position, and then learning to walk without ever having crawled. If you want to try to encourage your child to crawl, the best approach is to place an exciting toy in front of them and coax them to come toward it.

What are some natural teething remedies?

Teething can be a painful process for these tiny guys. Parents often ask what they can do to help soothe their baby. Here are a few ideas that may help. For starters, I recommend using a cold washcloth and rubbing baby’s gums. Infants who are teething like to feel pressure on their gums as it distracts them. The cool water of the washcloth will be gently numbing to their sensitive mouths. Another neat trick is to make breastmilk popsicles using a specialized mold in which one end looks like a pacifier. These molds can be found online under the Munchkin brand. Be sure to give this to baby for only 5 to 10 min at a time and monitor their use closely. Prolonged exposure to ice at the gum line can cause a frost burn. If you infant is really struggling, using Tylenol dosed according to you baby’s weight as per the packing instructions is a good idea to take the edge off. Topical oral anesthetics should not be used as they can be toxic even in small doses. Currently, there are no topical anesthetics that are FDA approved for children under the age of 2. I would also caution against using any type of teething beads. If the necklace breaks apart, these beads—often the same size as your little one’s airway—can be a serious choking hazard.

Dr. Stephanie Dekom is a board-certified pediatrician located in Los Angeles, California. After completing her B.S. degree at Staten Island’s Wagner Collage where she graduated summa cum laude in 2008 with a major in Arts Administration and double minors in both chemistry and biology. She received her M.D. in 2013 from The George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C. While in Washington, she took a year-long leave of absence to compete in the Miss America Pageant as Miss District of Columbia. During her year of service, she made over 100 personal appearances to promote a platform of preventive healthcare. In 2016, she completed a residency in general pediatrics at the University of California Los Angeles. Currently, Dr. Dekom is subspecializing in neonatology, the practice of caring for premature and critically ill infants. She has been involved in research studies evaluating neonatal hemodynamics, studying the microbiome of newborns, and various intensive care unit based quality improvement projects. She has presented her work at multiple national conferences. For more tips and advice, follow Dr. Dekom on Instagram.

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