As a Pediatrician in Boca Raton, I get asked regularly for a slew of recommendations to help parents. The saying “It Takes a Village to raise a child” is an African proverb that stems from the need that every person in the village contributed to helping a child grow. Parents, can I get a high five?! While villages don’t exist in the same way around these parts, parents have to carefully choose just who they let into a child’s world. And with the likes of nannies, tutors, teachers, baby nurses, sleep trainers, and more, it’s imperative that both new and “veteran” parents understand that not all village voices are created equal.
As I’m sure you’ve noticed since you were expecting, everyone has an idea, opinion, or belief on how to raise your child. Be it neighbors, grandparents, second cousins twice removed, everybody wants to tell you how it’s done. “Why does she need so many naps?” “Don’t swaddle them too tight!” or “You HAVE to use this daycare.” For older kids, it’s “Don’t put them in too many activities!” or “They’re not in enough activities!” Two cents are good. But the term “two cents” actually means a light opinion or thought that’s worth only two cents, so take it for what it is. At the end of the day, only you, the parent have the instinct of what’s best for your child.
Nowadays, it’s common for anyone and everyone to be giving advice about babies, children, childbirth, nutrition, behavior, and even medical conditions. I’ve come across blogs, classes, social media accounts, and plenty of businesses who are giving advice or offering services to parents. Unless this person is a medical doctor or trained and certified in the specific field you’re researching with up-to-date credentials, this practice can be dangerous. I’ve been shown countless posts from Facebook groups or Twitter threads where someone without professional credentials is giving medical advice that isn’t only wrong, but potentially deadly. Know who you’re getting your advice from, and if that person has the qualifications to be giving the advice. Parents should feel that they have a relationship with their OB/GYN or pediatrician where they can ask whether or not something they read through social media or online is actually safe for themselves or their child.
As a general pediatrician, I see and treat kids with common and some not-so-common ailments. When something comes up that’s out of my scope, I refer patients to see a specialist. Whether it’s a cardiologist or orthopedic surgeon, I want my patients getting the most comprehensive care from the person who is truly the expert in his or her field.
Choosing Your Village
First things first, be your child’s advocate. Just because you’ve received a recommendation for a specific nanny, tutor, baby nurse, etc, doesn’t mean your work is done. What research have you done on your own to vet this person? An expectant mother in my practice recently asked if I had heard of a specific baby nurse that had been recommended to her. I hadn’t, but I asked the following questions to the mother:
-Does this person have any medical or newborn certifications? If so, are they updated? Is she infant CPR certified? Is she up to date on her vaccines (including flu shot and whooping cough)? Have you done a background check? Does she smoke?
The mother looked at me with a nervous smile, and said, “Oops. No. I don’t know any of that. I only know that a friend used her, and I know what she charges per hour.” This is a common response to this question, and I can’t stress the importance of trusting your maternal/paternal instinct, but also doing your due diligence on anyone you are considering adding to your village.
Remember that your expectations might not be the same as other people’s expectations. You’ll want to make informed decisions about who is going to care for your most precious cargo not just by recommendations, but by doing your homework as well. Trusted recommendations lay the groundwork for finding people in your village, but in my experience, I’ve found that the above questions are not being asked often enough.
We Believe In You
Is anything scarier, more fun, or more difficult than parenting? We know you’ve got this. And just like you, we genuinely want the absolutely best and safest for your children. A special thank you to our VIPs (Very Important Patients & Very Important Parents) for choosing us to be a part of your village…a job we don’t take lightly!