Tag Archives: parenting tips

Your Child Has Autism: Now What?


Your child has just been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and it may feel as though the ground has dropped out from under you. The challenges seem overwhelming at first, but you don’t have to face them alone. With so much going on, it can be hard to know where to start. Here are a few ideas.

Find Professional Support
You are beginning your journey as your child’s advocate and will need to identify the resources you need as soon as possible. Your child will have symptoms, abilities, needs, and challenges that are unique to him or her. With that in mind, a little research will help you evaluate who can best help your child. Be sure to ask questions about each therapist’s approach and methodology, including whether the treatment is grounded in evidence-based practice and how parents and caregivers are included in the treatment.

Make Time for Yourselves
Your child’s needs are paramount, but if you are going to be able to meet them, you must also take care of yourself. As parents, you are under a tremendous strain. It’s critical that you take a deep breath, step back a bit, and process your own emotions and needs. It will be hard at first—your impulse will be to throw yourself into protecting and helping your newly diagnosed child—but it is necessary for your own long-term health and that of the rest of the family.

Be Open with Your Other Children
The diagnosis affects the whole family. Your other children will have questions and reactions, and their feelings about having a sibling with autism need to be validated. Don’t withhold information—it will neither protect them nor make them feel better. Encourage them to ask questions, and process what the diagnosis means for them.

Build a Support System
Don’t go it alone. It’s impossible to overstate how important it is to have family, close friends, parents of children with ASD, and therapists who support you as you start on this new path. Other parents will be particularly supportive—who else knows truly understands what you’re going through? They can be an invaluable source of information on family dynamics as well as on therapists and other resources.

Approach the Internet with Caution
While the Internet is a great source of information, it also contains a great deal of misinformation; you must be discerning. When reviewing websites, check to see if the author has a background in ASD and is professionally qualified to provide reliable information. Also, note whether the site’s information has been subjected to rigorous testing and research. Put another way, does the site share information on evidence-based practices?

One last, but important, note. Your child is the same child he or she was before the diagnosis and will continue to develop in his or her own way, and build unique strengths, skills, and interests for you to embrace and celebrate.

April is National Autism Awareness Month. Learn more online at the Autism Society.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Sarah Kern, LCSW, is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, at NYU Langone’s Child Study Center.

Breastfeeding Tips for New Moms


Breastfeeding has proven to have wide-ranging health benefits for infants: breast milk provides essential vitamins, protein, and fat to help babies grow. It is also easier for babies to digest than formula and contains antibodies to help fight off viruses and bacteria that cause illness or infection. Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists strongly recommend the practice. Still, breastfeeding is a personal choice that can be influenced by family support, the personal health of the mother, breastfeeding education, and the necessity for mom to return to work.

These factors can influence different cultural groups in a variety of ways, and the staff at NYU Lutheran Family Health Centers’ Women, Infant, and Children’s (WIC) Program found that in particular, most Chinese moms they saw were bottle-feeding rather than breastfeeding. The WIC program collaborated with the NYU Lutheran Labor and Delivery Unit to provide Mandarin- and Cantonese-speaking peer counselors five mornings a week, to facilitate prenatal discussion with Chinese moms on the importance of breastfeeding. This education resulted in a significant increase in breastfeeding among that population.

We asked two front-line community physicians, Girish Gowda, M.D., a neonatologist and partnering physician with NYU Lutheran’s WIC breastfeeding support program; and Sharon P. Joseph-Giss, M.D., medical director and pediatrician at NYU Lutheran Family Health Centers Sunset Park for Women and Children for their top tips for new moms struggling to make breastfeeding work for them:

  • The first milk produced is called colostrum. It may seem like it’s not enough but it is sufficient for your baby. In fact, it is necessary to give your baby important nutrients and ingredients such as antibodies to fight infection. The full milk supply will take a day or two to begin, so put your baby to your breast—they are getting plenty of nourishment, and more milk will be produced in a couple of days.
  • Breastfeeding improves health for both mom and baby. For mom, it helps decrease uterine bleeding after giving birth. Exclusively breastfed babies have a smaller chance of ear infections and illness, as well as fewer hospitalizations in the first six months.
  • Put the baby to your breast often! Supply and demand is in effect here, and the more the baby suckles, the more milk the body will produce.
  • When your baby is hungry, make sure his mouth opens WIDE, and put as much of the dark part of your breast and nipple in his mouth as possible. This will ensure a good latch. If the baby just suckles the nipple, this will make you sore.
  • You will need to nurse about every 1.5–2 hours. Better yet, nurse on demand! This will ensure good growth for your baby, and ramp up your milk supply.
  • If your baby has six to eight wet diapers per day that means he or she is getting an adequate intake of milk.
  • Be careful of your diet. Foods that give you gas (broccoli, onions, garlic, beans) can give your baby gas as well.
  • You will know that your baby is drinking if you hear gulping sounds and the baby seems satisfied—sleepy and content—at the end of the session. Since there is no way to measure the milk your baby drinks directly from your breast, this is the best indication that she is getting enough.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Girish Gowda, M.D., is a neonatologist and partnering physician with NYU Lutheran’s WIC breastfeeding support program.

Sharon P. Joseph-Giss, M.D., is medical director and pediatrician at NYU Lutheran Family Health Centers Sunset Park for Women and Children.

The ABCs of AT: A Primer on Assistive Technology


A
ssistive technology (AT) can be loosely defined as the use of equipment to facilitate independence in a person with a disability.

Both children and adults can benefit from the many types of assistive technology.

Children’s needs can differ greatly from adults due to the nature of their disability and their educational needs.

Here’s what you need to know about high and low tech assistive technology:

• Low Tech AT is usually less invasive and easy to incorporate. Examples include adaptive pencil grips, large print text, line guides for reading, or a picture scheduling system for a child that has a hard time understanding text or numbers. While these changes are simple, they can make a big difference in independence for everyday tasks such as handwriting and reading.

• High Tech AT refers to complex devices that have a power source. For children, high tech devices are often used for communication impairments and include adaptive hardware or software to access a computer, equipment to participate in leisure tasks, and home automation devices.

• Computer Technology: AT for the computer includes adaptations to hardware or software. Keyboards can be made larger or smaller and keyboard letter keys can be given alternate layouts. A mouse can be adapted to a joystick or trackball, or made to be controlled by the head or eyes. On-screen keyboards, voice to text or text to voice software, and word prediction software can all help to make communication easier.

• Alternative and Augmentative Communication: These are devices that enhance or replace speech when a child is unable to make his or her needs known. Devices like iPads can be used as children’s communication tools with appropriate applications. There are also “dedicated” devices; these are meant for communication only but have accessibility built in for use with head movement or eye gaze.

• Home Automation: With the advancement of technology, it’s much easier for a child with a disability to control his or her environment, including lights, TV remote, fan, door locks, etc. With the use of a simple remote, smart phone, or tablet, a child can access all of the electronics at home independently.

The use of assistive technology can greatly improve the life of a child or adult with a disability or mixed abilities, and the inclusion of accessibility options in mainstream technology makes access of the necessary easier for a person with an AT need.

Want to learn more? Join the experts from Rusk Rehabilitation at NYU Langone Medical Center for a discussion on the use of assistive technology to enhance independence of children outside the classroom:

Date/Time: Thursday, February 25 at 5pm
Location: Ambulatory Care Center, 240 East 38th St., 11th Floor Conference Room

To RSVP for this free lecture, click here.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Holly Cohen, OTR/L, ATP, SCEM, CDRS is the Program Manager of Assistive Technology and Driving Rehabilitation at NYU Langone Medical Center’s Rusk Rehabilitation.

How to Talk to Your Kids about Internet Safety


Internet safety is a complicated and multifaceted issue, in part because a family’s culture and outlook on technology must be considered. As such, there is not necessarily a “one size fits all” method to raise your children with technology and the Internet.

It is important to view the Internet as a tool—in fact, picture a chainsaw. Like any tool you will want to set clear expectations and teach the user safety measures, as well as skills for handling the tool efficiently, and discuss hypothetical situations for what to do if there is an accident or emergency. The same can be said for the Internet and your children. Unlike a chainsaw, however, there is no operations manual for the Internet, so consider the guidelines below as you map out your family’s personal safety manual:

Parenting has not changed. Technology, particularly the Internet, has changed our lives, but it has not necessarily changed the rules of parental engagement! The world may be new, but the problems are not.

Content matters. Setting clear expectations for your child’s Internet use is a necessity. If your child were to play in the neighborhood, you would want to know who they are meeting, where they are going, what they plan to do, and when they will return home. Having that information allows you to set more targeted boundaries. Similarly, becoming more familiar with your child’s Internet use is an important hurdle to overcome.

Learn from each other. As you teach your children how to use the Internet, it will also be your responsibility to learn from them about the ways in which they use it and about dangers they may encounter.

Co-engagement counts. For younger children, be prepared to monitor their use much more closely and use parental controls. Plan to use the Internet together with your young child. I recommend “saddling up” to children when they are engaged in a game or video and to simply participate with them—what better way to learn together? As youth develop through their teenage years, foster more exploration and independence with continued monitoring and coaching of appropriate use.

Role modeling is critical. Take a moment to consider the ways you and other caregivers use technology. Some adults use their phones during dinnertime, and others might use devices in bed before going to sleep. Make sure to talk with other caregivers to establish consistent expectations for what you want to model to your children.

Create tech-free zones. Consider creating tech-free times of day for the whole family! Dinnertime and bedtime are good places to start. Remember that if you frequently use devices during such times you will be hard-pressed to enforce such tech-free zones for your children. Work with other caregivers to make this expectation clear and consistent.

It’s OK for your child to be online. In many ways, the Internet is like a diet. Your children live in a world of screens, and the Internet will only become more integrated into everything they do. Your job is to teach them how to have a balanced diet of educational, social, and entertainment content.

Kids will be kids. There will be missteps, but you must use small errors as teachable moments. Continue to discuss hypotheticals with them; what would you do if . . . ? Be supportive and empathetic and help your child learn from their mistakes.

Most importantly, accept that you are ready to tackle this challenge. Be there with them from the beginning and be ready to learn together as you all navigate the digital landscape as a family.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Douglas M. Brodman, PhD, is a clinical instructor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center’s Child Study Center. He provides clinical intervention and consultation to families and youth struggling from emotional and disruptive behavioral disorders.

The Art of Arguing: Tips for Handling Parental Conflict around Your Kids

Unhappy Girl At Home With Parents Arguing In BackgroundCarl Whitaker, one of the originators of family therapy, once said, “Conflict should rightly be considered the fertilizer for life. While it is not always fragrant, it’s crucial for optimal growth.” How you deal with conflict is more important than whether or not you have it in your relationship. Parental conflict is a natural part of family life and as a rule ought not to be avoided. All parents (or anyone in a primary caretaking role) argue, and all children learn a lot about how to manage disagreements from hearing and observing their parents. This is simply a fact about family life and childhood.

However, parents may understandably worry about the ill effects of fighting in the presence of their children. Many city-dwelling parents lack the living space to take their disagreements out of earshot, or have young children who can’t be left unattended. And there are occasions where addressing some issue can’t easily be put off until after the kids are asleep (when parents are often exhausted as well). Finding time and space to deal directly with conflictual issues can be a challenge. Below are some general guidelines that can help.

Conflict in front of the kids isn’t in and of itself problematic. What counts is what you are showing them. Are you showing them:

• A way of disagreeing with mutual respect?
• How to listen and take another person’s perspective?
• How to assert yourself without putting the other person down?
• How to regulate your emotions and not be blaming or defensive?

If so, you are providing an invaluable model of how to engage in dialogue in the context of conflict and disagreement. In many ways, this is as important for their development as a stress-free family interaction (though plenty of those are good too!).

If you find that you can’t do any or most of the above, then it is best to de-escalate and table the interaction for another time. This can be difficult, but not impossible. It requires an agreement that either parent can call for a “time-out.”

That person is then responsible for bringing up the issue at a “cooler” time, ideally when kids are not present and both parties have had the opportunity to calm down and collect their thoughts.

•  This shouldn’t be used to avoid the topic. Using this method appropriately will build trust for both parents that important issues will not be dismissed or avoided.
• Finally, resist the urge to enlist kids in your conflict!
• Having to take sides in a parental dispute is highly stressful for a child, so putting a kid in this position should be strongly avoided.
• Children have a right to love their parents equally and ought not to be asked to take sides, directly or indirectly.

What gets talked about in front of kids is, to a large extent, a matter of individual parental values and beliefs. However:

• It is important to take into consideration a child’s level of development and individual sensitivity: e.g. an anxious child may easily misconstrue and overreact to parents arguing about money.
• One should have clear generational boundaries about adult issues that don’t directly concern the children (e.g. parents’ sex life, most financial matters). Arguments about in-laws and other extended family relationships can also be quite stressful for children.
• Either parent ought to have the right to indicate discomfort with the topic area when the kids are present and call for a “time out.”

Parents can have robust disagreements about a variety of topics in front of their children without necessarily causing stress and anxiety. The key here is for parents to do so in a way that shows their kids that that conflict can be managed and even resolved with love and mutual respect.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Andrew Roffman, LCSW, is a clinical assistant professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Child Study Center at NYU Langone Medical Center, the director of the Child Study Center’s Family Studies Program, a training program in family and couples therapy, and a member of the Center’s Faculty Group Practice where he specializes in family/couples therapy and individual therapy for late adolescents and adults.

How to Protect Your Child’s Skin This Winter

Litlte girl in a bathrobe and towel
After a balmy fall, winter is finally upon us. It’s time to unpack the mittens, hats, scarves, and sweaters. As parents, it’s also time for us to brush up on our negotiation skills and convince our children to actually wear their coats! The next time you find yourself in a heated discussion with your little one on the necessity and virtues of covering up, remember to protect his or her true primary barrier to the world: the skin.

Our skin takes a beating during the dry, cold winter months. Indoor heat without humidification can make skin prone to drying out. This is particularly true for children with atopic dermatitis (eczema) who tend to make less natural moisturizers and who are at risk for having more eczema flares during the winter.

Managing dry skin involves two guiding principles:

• Avoid irritants
• Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize!

With those two principles in mind let’s tackle some basic questions.

Do baths help or hurt dry skin?
Bathing can help hydrate your child’s skin. The most common problem is forgetting to apply a moisturizer which helps “seal in” moisture. Daily baths are fine. Just don’t overdo it—limit bath time to no more than 15 minutes.

What is the best soap to use?
Dry skin (and particularly the skin of eczema patients) can be very sensitive to irritants. Avoid using perfumed soaps and cleansers—although they smell wonderful, the added fragrances can be irritating. Look for fragrance free, gentle cleansers. If your child has eczema, you may also want to limit the application of the cleanser to visibly dirty areas and areas where dirt likes to hide, like the diaper region, under the neck, armpits, and groin.

How often should I use a moisturizer and which one should I choose?
The skin care aisles in drug stores are overstuffed with numerous products, each of which makes various claims of benefit for the skin.

Unfortunately, there have been no large head-to-head studies comparing all of the different moisturizer options to clearly declare one superior to the other. Therefore, the best moisturizer is the one you actually use! Moisturizers don’t do any good sitting on shelves. Here are a couple of useful tips:

• Avoid fragranced moisturizers if your child has sensitive skin.

• If your child has moderate to severe eczema, the greasier a moisturizer is, the better—ointments and thick creams tend to work best (think of something you have to scoop out of a jar). Apply it to the whole body morning and night.

• Lotions, which typically come in pump bottles, have less “sealant” properties and may irritate the skin of children with severe eczema.

• Try to make moisturizing part of the daily routine and fun. For infants, consider making it part of the bedtime routine and incorporate infant massage. In older children, consider letting them take charge and help them apply their own creams.

When should my child see his or her pediatrician or a dermatologist?
If your child’s dry skin has worsened and has areas of redness, itching, and/or a bumpy rash, he or she may have eczema. A doctor can be helpful in advising you on whether a prescription cream or ointment could be of benefit.

So this season, think of your child’s skin! It has been working hard all year and surely could benefit from tender loving care this winter.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Vikash S. Oza, MD, is an assistant professor in the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center, where he serves as the director of Pediatric Dermatology. He is board certified in both pediatrics and dermatology and sees children of all ages with acute or chronic skin care conditions.

 

5 Simple Tips for Being a Better Parent in 2016

The start of a new year can be the perfect time to look closely at aspects of your life—relationships, finances, diet, and exercise—and make adjustments if necessary. If being a better parent is on your to-do list for 2016, here are a few tips to get you started:

Talk and listen more . . . about “random stuff”.
If you want to build positive communication between you and your child, talk and listen more, and not just about “important stuff,” like drugs and sex. By the time kids become teenagers—when these bigger issues need to be discussed more regularly—communication patterns with parents are pretty well established. If your kids aren’t used to talking to you about less weighty topics, the bigger ones surely won’t be easy when the time comes to discuss them. Talk about things that will engage them, even for just a few minutes, and even if it’s a subject that’s not as interesting to you. You can demonstrate interest by briefly reflecting some of what they say. This small change can make a big impact on later communication because you’ll want them to be open and communicative when it comes time to tell you about the “big stuff” happening in their lives as teenagers and adults.

Don’t just tell them, teach them.
Many parents express that they often get frustrated with their children when they start feeling like a “broken record” and repeating the same thing over and over. In some situations, it is possible that your child is having trouble meeting particular expectations because he or she lacks the skills to complete the tasks you’re requesting. Many tasks that seem obvious, simple, or self-explanatory to adults are actually quite complex for children given their cognitive levels. To effectively execute tasks like “Get ready for school,” or “Calm down”, children actually require many cognitive abilities to come together in unison (e.g. executive functioning skills such as attention, planning, organization, time management; and emotion regulation skills to manage frustration, etc.). So, if you find yourself telling your child to do something that he or she has trouble with, take a step back and ask yourself if you need to impart additional skills to help your child complete the task.

Set appropriate limits and stick to them.
Kids learn and perform best when they know what is expected of them. If the limits keep changing or are not really enforced, children may come to expect things to always go their way, and we all know that’s not possible. As a result, children may have a harder time in situations at school or with peer relationships when others are not giving in to their demands. Start by setting simple, yet enforceable limits to help your child understand that “such is life,” so to speak.

Carve out time . . . but not as much as you think.
Parents often hear that they need to make more time for their children (and they do), but they may not realize that a little goes a very long way. Sure, it’s nice to carve out time for family activities and vacations, but these require a chunk of time that parents may not consistently have. Believe it or not, many parenting programs recommend a daily dose of just five minutes. Often referred to as “special time,” this is just five minutes of time spent with your child doing something he or she finds fun and interesting without trying to teach, correct, or criticize (unless it’s harmful or unsafe, of course). Remember, the goal isn’t to lead children in an activity; the goal is to follow them and show interest in what they’re doing.

Understand and validate how they feel.
You don’t have to agree with your child’s feelings to understand (and validate) how he or she is feeling. Parents often confuse the two and assume that by saying “I understand how you feel” they are inherently agreeing that their child should feel that way. By simply acknowledging their children’s feelings, parents can help them develop better self-control over time. The first step to regulating emotions is knowing which emotion you’re experiencing and that, although valid, it’s time to cope with it and move on. After labeling and validating the emotion, briefly help to problem-solve the situation, or move on. Eventually your child will too!

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Yamalis Diaz, PhD is a clinical assistant professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Child Study Center at NYU Langone Medical Center.

New Year’s Nutrition: Healthy Resolutions for the Whole Family

While the talk of New Year’s resolutions and self-improvement can be overwhelming this time of year, it’s still a great time to help children make goals toward healthy behaviors. However, when talking to your children about nutrition and health resolutions, take the focus off of food itself and instead focus on health, and not appearance. Not only will this help to foster a positive body image, but it will also help to assure the changes you’re making will be sustainable throughout your children’s lives. Here are some ideas for great, healthy family goals to consider for the upcoming year:

Plan more family meals during the week. Studies show that when families eat meals together, kids have higher self-esteem, perform better in school, and have better eating habits than families who don’t. Family meal times are great opportunities to unwind and relax with each other, as well as a time to try new foods together. You can talk about the taste, textures, and smells of new foods, and use it as a time to discuss where different foods come from. Family meals don’t always have to be dinner if it’s too difficult to coordinate. Aim for breakfast or even a weekend lunch if that’s more doable for your family.

Involve children in meal planning and preparation. Children take enormous pride in helping in the kitchen, and are much more willing to try new foods if they’ve had a hand in preparing them. Use this to your advantage and have them pick out one new fruit or vegetable to try each week at the grocery store. Then think of fun and delicious ways to prepare it together!

happy family with two kids making dinner at home
Stop using food as a reward, punishment, or bribe.
While it may seem like a harmless and surefire way to get your kids to behave, you could be doing more harm than good in the long run. By using one food as a reward for eating another, you may be setting kids up for future emotional eating, and you’re interfering with your child’s natural hunger cues by encouraging them to eat when they’re not hungry in order to reward themselves.

Encourage hydration, but cut down on sugary drinks. Kids can often confuse hunger and thirst. By assuring your children are adequately hydrated, you can be sure that when they say they’re hungry, they really do need a healthy snack or meal. Remember that juice, soda, sports drinks, sweetened ice tea, and lemonade all contain sugar, and even “diet” versions may not help with weight loss or be good for kids’ growing bodies. Pick out a special water bottle for your child featuring his or her favorite character or color; fill it with water, freshly brewed decaf or herbal iced tea, or seltzer with a splash of 100% juice to keep kids hydrated.

Encourage mindfulness. Remind kids to slow down when eating meals—it should take at least 20 minutes to finish. Turn off the TV and computers during meals and put phones away. Encourage children to listen to their bodies when eating and stop eating when they are full, instead of stopping when their plates are clean.

Most importantly, set a good example. Remember, you’re the best role model for your family. If your children see you enjoying healthy foods and having a good relationship with food, they’ll be more likely to have one as well, without you even saying a word!

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Amanda Buthmann, MS, RDN, is a senior registered dietician and wellness coordinator at NYU Langone Medical Center.

NYU Langone Medical Center Wishes You a Happy & Healthy Thanksgiving

Nurse (unknown) playing games with Logan Grostas (consent with Carin) in hospital bed

The holidays are a wonderful time to relax, eat delicious food, and enjoy the company of family and friends, but the season can also bring additional stresses and safety hazards for your child. While we hope you have a safe and stress-free Thanksgiving and holiday season, we’d like to remind you about the resources that are available in the New York City area if you need them.

• Our family-focused KiDS Emergency Department, which is part of the Ronald O. Perelman Center for Emergency Services in New York City, is available for sudden illness or injury, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Along with a dedicated team of pediatric emergency medicine specialists, the KiDS Emergency Department offers a family-friendly waiting area with age-appropriate toys and activities for children, as well as child life specialists on hand to prepare and distract your child during treatment. The KiDS Emergency Department is located at 570 First Avenue in New York, New York.

• In addition, if you live in Brooklyn and the surrounding areas, the NYU Langone Cobble Hill Emergency Department, which also serves Sunset Park, is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for walk-in visits and ambulances. A team of board certified doctors, nurses, and support staff specializes in emergency medicine and can assist adults and children with urgent healthcare needs. NYU Langone-Cobble Hill is located at 83 Amity Street in Brooklyn, New York.

• NYU Langone’s Child Study Center offers a wide range of mental health services for children, adolescents, young adults, and families. Our experts can work with your family on a range of conditions such as learning disorders, mood disorders, anxiety, autism spectrum disorder, and more. Click here for more information.

• The Pediatric Gastroenterology Program can help your child with a range of gastrointestinal diseases, including celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders. Since dietary restrictions can be especially difficult during the holidays, their licensed social workers are available to provide supportive counseling to aid you in adjusting to your child’s diagnosis and offer strategies for dealing with social events where food is a factor.

• NYU Langone’s Pediatric GUARD (Gastroesophageal, Upper Airway, and Respiratory Diseases) Center provides a team approach to care for your child with issues that affect breathing, speaking, or swallowing. They’ll collaborate to decide the best treatment plan for conditions such as breathing noises, chronic cough, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and recurrent croup, among others.

Please dial 911 if your child is experiencing an emergency.

You can check out more services provided through NYU Langone’s Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital by visiting our website, or calling 855-698-5437.

We wish you and your family a happy holiday season!

Why Family Mealtime is SO Important


We all know that family mealtime is important, but scheduling time together is often easier said than done. When you get home from work or if you’ve spent the day running around after your kids, it can be tempting to grab food on the go or microwave a quick meal for the kids and order in for yourself.

However, every once in a while it’s important to take an hour out of your day to turn the TV off, put the phones and computers down, and enjoy a healthy meal while reflecting on the events of the day. Take it from us (and our experts at NYU Langone Medical Center who also had something to say about the matter!), your family will benefit in more ways than you know:

It’s important for your family relationship. The only way to foster a close-knit family is to spend quality time together, and weeknight meals are the perfect opportunity. Eating together every night might be a stretch for your family, but a couple nights a week at least, plan a meal where you can sit down together, talk about your day, and find out what’s happening in each other’s lives. What you learn might surprise you!

On that note, you may learn things about each other wouldn’t otherwise find out. We rush around in so many different directions that we often don’t have the time to chat about the little things in life—who your toddler played with at school, the project your wife is spending her days on at work, the amazing book your teenager read at school. Taking the time to spend a meal together—without lots of outside interruptions—will help you understand each other better and address exciting news and/or challenging issues in a more timely manner.

Your picky eater may just try something new. Kids tend to eat pretty early, so it’s not always convenient to eat as a family. However, if you have a picky eater on your hands and you make a concerted effort to eat dinner together as a family, he or she may be inspired to dig in to what the rest of you are eating. It’s not a guarantee, but a major way kids learn is by watching and observing, which is pretty difficult to do if they’re always eating by themselves.

You’ll eat healthier. After a long day, it often seems like the best way to handle dinner is to order in or grab take out and eat as you please. While this might be easier, doing so may not be good for your waistline. More often than not, grab and go meals are much more unhealthy than what you’d make for yourself at home, and eating this way every night can add lots of extra calories and saturated fat to your diet. Home-cooked meals don’t have to be difficult or over the top gourmet. Marinate chicken overnight and throw it on the grill; roast some vegetables in olive oil, salt, and pepper; and bake a sweet potato in the oven—and there you have an easy and healthy dinner for the whole family.

If lack of cooking time is the reason for your lack of family meals, don’t let it be your excuse! Prep your meals over the weekend when you have the time so all you have to do is defrost or throw it in the oven. You can also search the endless number of cooking sites out there for easy 20-minute meals that literally entail throwing things in a pot. Or, check out Kitchensurfing, a company that sends a private chef to your home to cook, serve, and clean up a meal for your family. This way you can spend more time as a family and less time worrying about what to make for dinner!