With Family Medicine Specialist Seth Wilson, MD
For this special Father’s Day edition of our Ask An Expert series, Healthe-Matters editors asked Family Medicine specialist Seth Wilson, MD, for some practical advice for first-time dads.
Uniquely qualified to dish parenting wisdom, Dr. Wilson is not only a First Physicians Group Family Medicine expert, but he’s also a proud father of 4 children — ages 5 to 11, and including twins!
Below are his tips for those of you tackling one of the biggest challenges of your life: fatherhood.
Keep important phone numbers handy. Program them into your phone, and post them on your fridge or somewhere highly visible in your home. This way, when there’s an emergency — and there inevitably will be — you’re not scrambling trying to find the number under pressure.
These must-have contacts should include:
- Your pediatrician. Even if you’re not the one who takes the littles to regular doctor appointments, be sure to have the practice’s name, address and phone number on hand.
- Your closest Urgent Care Center and ER. Be sure to document the phone numbers and location; for urgent care centers, also note the hours of operation. When minutes matter, you want to know where you’re going.
- Your local Poison Control Center. At some point, your baby is going to stick something in their mouth that worries you. Poison Control Centers are invaluable, offering parents guidance on how to handle an ingestion, exposure or even suspected poisoning, as well as instructions on follow-up care. Our local center is Florida Poison Control Center-Tampa, 800-222-1222.
Take infant CPR and other childbirth education classes before baby arrives. We recommend that all parents — and others who’ll be caring for baby — take an infant CPR class and learn the modified Heimlich maneuver. Knowing those skills can truly save a life.
Red Flags for Babies
Appetite – If your baby stops eating regularly, consult your pediatrician.
Breathing – If your baby appears to have trouble breathing, call your pediatrician immediately and head to the Emergency Room.
Fever – For newborns younger than 1 month, any fever is abnormal. In infants 3 months or younger, a fever over 100.4 requires an immediate call to the pediatrician and possibly a trip to the Emergency Room.
Lethargic — No matter what the thermometer says, if a child is not responsive or is lethargic, get them to the ER.
Know When to Worry
Crying isn’t always a crisis. As you’ll quickly realize, babies cry. A lot. It’s normal. You don’t need to stress out or worry every time a baby cries. Most of the time, crying simply signals that baby needs to be changed, fed or put to bed.
Snot happens. Babies are exposed to a lot of different colds and viruses in the first year of life. They’ll get sick, and that’s OK. On their own, runny nose, sniffles and congestion aren’t necessarily anything to get too worked up about, but make sure symptoms don’t worsen. And always be mindful of baby’s temperature or a drastic change in energy level or appetite. For fevers over 100.4, lethargy or continued lack of appetite, seek medical care.
Shots. Shots. Shots. Almost every time you go to the pediatrician in the first year, baby’s going to get a shot. That’s normal. It may look like a lot — and baby may not be happy about it — but these vaccinations are critical to protecting your little one against harmful diseases.
Know when and where to go for care. Urgent Care Centers do not offer the same level of care provided in ERs. A good rule of thumb: If symptoms are something you’d typically see your primary care doctor about, but you can’t wait until the office opens or has availability, then an urgent care center is a great alternative. If the illness / injury is life-threatening, get to the ER. Unsure? Go to the ER — just to play it safe. (Click here for our ER vs. Urgent Care Guide.)
Spread the Love
A big part of creating a healthy and safe environment for your baby is ensuring that you and your partner are healthy and safe too.
- Divide and conquer the new responsibilities — from feedings and diaper changes to middle-of-the night wake-ups.
- Eat healthy and drink lots of liquids. Creating a meal plan can help.
- Plan “me” time. Even if it’s just 15 to 30 minutes for exercise, give yourself some time to be alone with your thoughts and relax.
- Nap when you can. The body needs sleep, and you’re going to be getting it on baby’s schedule, so grab rest when you get the chance.
Try to enjoy every moment — the exciting moments; the mundane, everyday moments; the beautiful ones; and even the hard, exhausting ones.
Because it’s true what they say: The days are long, but the years are short.
More Parenting & Pregnancy Tips from SMH Experts
Pregnant? Know These Warning Signs
Fever in Kids: When to Worry
Button Batteries & Kids: What You Need to Know
Unexpected Poisons in the Home
Urgent Care or ER: A Guide, by Symptom
Seth Wilson, MD, offers a comprehensive range of outpatient family care for all ages, including treatment for chronic conditions (arthritis, asthma, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, etc.), routine preventative care (flu shots, wellness exams, etc.) and support for lifestyle changes (weight management, smoking cessation, family planning, etc). His office is located at the University Parkway Health Care Center First Physicians Group practice (941-917-4675).