Rise and Shine Expo – Dr Peter Sears on Raising Smart, Well-Behaved Child – Parenting Balance

Parenting Rise and Shine Dr Sears

This is a 2-part series on a workshop that I’ve attended at Singapore Rise and Shine Expo, by Dr Peter Sears. Last year, I attended his father, Dr Bill Sears, at the same expo onraising healthy child and attachment parenting. This year, Dr Peter Sears’ talk focuses on raising smart and well-behaved child, two aspects that most parents are concerned with.

More on Rise and Shine Expo:

Rise and Shine Expo, an informative expo to raise happy and healthy children, was held in Singapore from 22-24 Aug 2014. Workshops were conducted by health and parenting experts and the one I attended was by Dr Peter Sears, ‘Raising smart and ALSO well-behaved child – Is it true that we shouldn’t spare the rod and spoil the child?’

More on Dr Peter Sears:

Dr. Peter Sears is board-certified by The American Academy of Family Practitioners. His primary passion in medicine is to promote well-being and health through the practice of preventive medicine at all ages along with using traditional and complementary treatments for curing of disease. He is also the co-author of two books, with his Dr Sears family on LEAN (see more here on previous interview with Dr Sears LEAN team).

Balance in Parenting

Dr Peter Sears shared that balance is a key aspect in parenting and a few areas which tend to be off-balance are:

Father/Child relationship – For some families, the father may not be as involved as the mother, particularly in the early years. Dr Sears encouraged dad’s early involvement, instead of waiting till the child is preschooler age. This is especially so as trust between parent and child is built from young.

Mom Helicopter Parenting – This refers to the mother monitoring the relationship and ‘hovering’ the interaction between the father and child. Doing so risk the child growing up thinking that dad is ‘secondary’ to mom and mom is the real authority figure in the family.

Mother Burnout – Many scenarios exist that increase the likelihood of mother burnout and the two common ones are dads’ inadequate involvement and moms controlling every situation (even when the dad wants to be involved!). If there is conflict in parenting styles between mom and dad, Dr Peter Sears cautioned that disagreement should not be in front of the child as that would confuse the child.

Emotional Balance – As a baby can pick up facial cues and mirror feelings, parents should adopt a calm and firm presence/face when disciplining. The baby’s brain has ‘mirror neurons’ and thus anxiety can be picked up.

Conveying Limits – Parents often say ‘No’ or ‘Stop’ to the child, but negative language does not help the child to focus on what should be done (instead, what should not be done). Dr Peter Sears shared a parenting moment from his dad (Dr Bill Sears) who instead of saying ‘No’ to his daughter for speaking rudely to his wife, told her that ’I will not tolerate such behavior to the woman who I love’. This enables the child to connect the impact of her action. In general, instead of saying no, direct the child on what should be done.

The Science of Attachment Parenting

Dr Sears believed in attachment parenting, where its 7Bs also include balance. The science behind attachment parenting is that being close and responsive to the baby benefits both mother and child.

(i)            Mother’s Brain

The mother’s brain changes to cater to nurturing babies, and attachment parenting and breastfeeding help boost hormones that facilitate caregiving – amygdala, cingulate, prolactin and oxytocin. Mothers who practice attachment parenting are better to trusting themselves on the needs of the child.

(ii)           Child’s Brain

Attachment parented infants have higher growth hormones and brain enzymes, and more likely for the neurons to make the right brain connections. The child grows up with an inner control mechanism, knowing what should be done and able to think through consequences. Conversely, for a baby who is left to cry it out, their cortisol is off balance (too high and too low) with prolonged high stress hormones that slow growth and depress immunity.

On the other hand, detached parenting set up ‘undiscipline’, leading to a fearful, fussy and clingy baby who may be shy or exhibit stranger anxiety. Other characteristics of a child with detached parents are not able to share or play with peers, blank unhappy stares and possibly become a bully due to lacking an inner control mechanism.

Dr Sears also shared briefly on the importance of nutrition, more from last year Dr Bill Sears’ talk here.

I also asked Dr Peter Sears on some questions relevant to raising eczema babies.

On Diet – What foods would you recommend for a baby with eczema, and would it be different for a toddler or a preteen?

Dr Peter Sears: Eczema often has an association with underlying food or environmental allergies. For children with moderate to severe eczema, we usually recommend having allergy testing done by a licensed allergist (if this is financially feasible). Identifying underlying allergies can help control eczema.

In addition, I often recommend that my patients with eczema take a daily Omega-3 DHA/EPA fish oil supplement as well as daily Probiotic supplement. Omega-3 fish oil has been shown to be beneficial for skin health and various types of eczema/ dermatitis due to it’s anti-inflammatory properties. Probiotics have been suggested to be beneficial as well.

On Colic – Is reflux something more commonly seen in children with eczema? If so, why? What formula would you recommend for eczema babies?

Dr Peter Sears: There has been an association between eczema and acid reflux. Theories on this suggest that this may be related to milk or dairy sensitivity or dairy allergy. Children with milk sensitivity/allergy may be more likely to exhibit symptoms of acid reflux and skin manifestations of eczema.

Parents should always consult with their doctor before switching formulas. Of course, we always recommend breastfeeding whenever possible. Hypoallergenic formulas may be beneficial for infants with dairy sensitivity and/or eczema.

On Parenting – Eczema families are more stressed, more chores to do (if there’s house dust mite allergy) and may even be more stretched financially as emollients, doctor consultations or having to have one parent stay home results in a loss of income. What do parents have to watch out for in their parenting to ensure that eczema doesn’t come in the way of them raising a happy and successful child?

Dr Peter Sears: This is a difficult question because every household and family dynamic will be different. To generalize, we would say that it is very important that there is a strong family support system and that both mother and father (as well as other capable family members) be as involved as possible in day to day care of this condition. This goes back to my talk about balance in the home with childcare.

Thank you to Dr Peter Sears for going through what he had shared in the Rise and Shine Expo workshop and also giving useful tips for eczema families. For those unsure about parenting styles, check out last week Dr Sears’ talk here.

Rise and Shine Expo – Dr Peter Sears on Raising Smart, Well-Behaved Child – Parenting Style

Rise and Shine Dr Sears Raising Smart and Well Behaved Child - parenting styleThis is a 2-part series on a workshop that I’ve attended at Singapore Rise and Shine Expo, by Dr Peter Sears. Last year, I attended his father, Dr Bill Sears, at the same expo on raising healthy child and attachment parenting. This year, Dr Peter Sears’ talk focuses on raising smart and well-behaved child, two aspects that most parents are concerned with.

More on Rise and Shine Expo:

Rise and Shine Expo, an informative expo to raise happy and healthy children, was held in Singapore from 22-24 Aug 2014. Workshops were conducted by health and parenting experts and the one I attended was by Dr Peter Sears, ‘Raising smart and ALSO well-behaved child – Is it true that we shouldn’t spare the rod and spoil the child?’

More on Dr Peter Sears:

Dr. Peter Sears is board-certified by The American Academy of Family Practitioners. His primary passion in medicine is to promote well-being and health through the practice of preventive medicine at all ages along with using traditional and complementary treatments for curing of disease. He is also the co-author of two books, with his Dr Sears family on LEAN (see more here on previous interview with Dr Sears LEAN team).

Which Parenting Style works Best?

Dr Peter Sears started the talk reminding parents that no one technique will work for every child, but instead he believes that forming a trusting bond with the child is the foundation for parenting. Dr Sears (family) believe in attachment parenting, which is being responsive and close to the baby especially in the first six months of birth. It is the natural way to parent because it is nurturing the baby according to the mother’s instinct.

More on attachment parenting, the 7 Bs in Dr Bill Sears’ talk last year

  • Birth bonding
  • Breastfeeding
  • Baby wearing
  • Bed Sharing
  • Believe Baby’s Cries
  • Beware of Baby Trainers
  • Balance

With attachment parenting as the foundation to build trust between parent and child, Dr Sears observed in their family practice that it will lead to the following desirable C Outcomes in kids:

  • Caring kids
  • Compassionate
  • Communicative
  • Connected
  • Comfortable with intimacy
  • Confident kids
  • Confident parents

Pros and Cons in Parenting Styles

Dr Peter Sears shared about differences in two main parenting styles below:

Authoritarian Style – This parenting style tends towards a command and control approach with a focus on wrong-doing and punishment. Spanking is often part of this parenting style. The positives of this style is that it is very clear to the child that the parent is in-charge and the child needs to obey. The parent being in-charge is important as a growing child needs guidance, direction and security.

The negative of this style is the potential pitfall of taking love from the parent-child relationship and inadequate positive reinforcements for the child. There is also a danger of the child engaging in the desired behavior out of fear, instead of out of respect. Moreover, the desired behavior does not come from self (child) who is able to think through the consequences and exercise inner control.

Permissive Style – This parenting style is characterized with warmth and affection, but with few or unclear limits. While it is good that there is much positive reinforcement given to the child, the negative is that the child takes control.

Authoritative Style – A more balanced parenting approach is to combine the positives of the above two styles, which gives the child love and warmth with structure. While this parenting style allows the child to thrive the best, it also requires more dedication, responsibility and creativity from parents. (It takes MORE work!) An authoritative parenting style fosters competence and mature moral judgment in the child, lowering the risk for problem behavior.

Is Spanking OK?

Dr Peter Sears explained that cultural and society settings affect whether spanking is involved in parenting. For instance, many European countries, Canada and New Zealand have legislation prohibiting spanking. This comes from studies that spanking has adverse effects that are associated with anti-social behavior, decreased rate of school performance and more behavioral and mental issues (for instance, depression and bi-polar).

Spanking may also send the wrong message that physical force is the way to resolve conflicts or issues. It is also very easy for parents to cross the line as physical force may be used when parents are stressed or a stronger force may hurt the child.

Dr Peter Sears provided alternatives to spanking, such as time-outs and explaining the consequences of misbehavior. Parents can engage in re-wind/ replay scenarios with the child to guide the child towards right behavior.

There is much balance required in parenting and next week, we will be sharing various aspects from Dr Peter Sears. Gratitude to Dr Peter Sears for taking time to review this blog post.

Rise and Shine Feature – Parenting with Dr Sears

Listening to the esteemed Dr Sears speak on healthy child is a privilege!

Listening to the esteemed Dr Sears speak on healthy child is a privilege!

Rise and Shine Expo, an informative expo to raise happy and healthy children, was held in Singapore last year. There were more than 100 seminars, workshops and trial classes, conducted by renowned experts around the world, including Dr Bill Sears who gave a workshop on ‘The successful child: What Parents can do to help kids turn out well.

Dr. Bill Sears, one of America’s most renowned pediatricians, is the father of eight children, and author of over 40 books on childcare. He is the Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine. Dr Sears Lean has a series on this blog, covering many aspects of raising healthy kids.

Last week, we covered many of Dr Sears’ tips on baby health issues, today we will cover more on parenting.

Dr Sears mentioned that the number 1 reason that children grow up to be criminal is the lack of capacity to care and lack of empathy. Success is defined differently by every parent but emphasis ought to be on the character.

Dr Sears’ Ten tools for Success

  1. Empathy and Compassion – Start in infancy with attachment parenting which lead to childhood Cs, with a lower likelihood that the child will turn out to be the school bully. Ask empathy questions like “How would you feel if…?”, raise siblings who care (role playing) and engage in empathy games.
  2. Ability to make wise choices – This refers to the ability to think through what you’re about to do, and knowing that choices have consequences. Children can be engaged in ‘replay’ scenarios, pretend choices and parents be aware of teachable moments. A career is a major decision in life, and Dr Sears believe that instead of influencing children’s career choices, it ought to be emphasized ‘whatever you do, do it well’.
  3. Good communicate skills – Teach the child to speak eye-to-eye, touch the child as you talk, speak naturally to the child and parents should pay attention to their body language and listening to the child. Always remember that the parent is the child’s cheer counsellor. On speech development, a child needs to learn to speak comfortably before speaking correctly, therefore the parent should not unduly correct the language but can speak back the correct way.
  4. Sense of responsibility – Children who depend most in the first two years turned out to be independent adults, teach responsible attitude like ‘I did it, I’ll fix it’. Children can be given jobs, responsibilities to gain that sense of responsibility.
  5. Sense of moral reasoning – Children should be taught to think before they act, and raising a successful child include working on their character, kindness and manners.
  6. Health attitude about sexuality – Always be the first resource children turn to by letting them know they can turn to you early in their life, for instance let the child know ‘if you tell me, I won’t get angry’.
  7. A love of learning–  Parents who value learning, create harmonious homes, have family meals, stretch NOT stress kids, involved in school can help children to adore learning!
  8. Confidence – Encourage your child, frame the child positively, play and observe the child to discover the talent/intelligence they have which can go beyond reading or logic, into areas like music, dance and drawing.
  9. Joyful attitude – To raise a joyful child, encourage him, help him relax, introduce music, help him/her to feel positive about own self and most importantly, let children know that they cannot control circumstances but can always control their reaction.
  10. Healthy LEAN habits – Health Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitude, Nutrition go a long way to helping to raise happy, healthy children, see here for the first of DrSearsLean series on this blog.

Dr Sears on Sibling Rivalry

Dr Sears suggested to have the siblings do a task together, or to help one another.

On Tantrums

Tantrums are common for children under two, as they have yet to be able to verbalize; however, this should be differentiated from manipulative tantrum which parents should not be pulled into. Discipline is based on right relationship than the right techniques.

I didn’t get to have Dr Sears vet through this post before publishing, any and all mistakes mine. It was a lovely day listening to Dr Sears during the Rise and Shine Expo.

Rise and Shine Feature – Baby Health with Dr Sears

Listening to the esteemed Dr Sears speak on healthy child is a privilege!

Listening to the esteemed Dr Sears speak on healthy child is a privilege!

Rise and Shine Expo, an informative expo to raise happy and healthy children, was held in Singapore last year. There were more than 100 seminars, workshops and trial classes, conducted by renowned experts around the world, including Dr Bill Sears who gave a seminar on ‘Keeping Your Child Healthy’ and workshop onAttachment Parenting and Handling Gassy and High-Need Babies.

Dr. Bill Sears, one of America’s most renowned pediatricians, is the father of eight children, and author of over 40 books on childcare. He is the Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine. Dr Sears Lean has a series on this blog, covering many aspects of raising healthy kids.

Last week, we covered Dr Sears’ talk on attachment parenting, today we will cover more health issues for the young ones!

What to Feed the Smart Baby

We have covered that Omega 3 (seafood) is recommended, as it is important for the brain’s development. Other foods recommended by Dr Sears for brain development are fruits (blueberries), greens and nuts for children over 2-year old. Smoothie can be prepared to include these foods, also salads, spice and appropriate supplements. Rice cereal is no longer recommended as a first food as it does not contain the essential fats.

What to Do with Picky Eaters

A child may not be picky, sometimes parents have to remember that children have tiny tummies and a fistful of food is sufficient portion meal size. So, instead of feeding 3 meals a day, ‘grazing’ ie giving foods for the child to nibble throughout the day is increasingly studied to improve their growth and helps with even sugar level. Dr Sears suggested leaving foods in a tray and let the ‘picky’ eater pick at it instead of insisting that they be eaten at one go.

When to Feed the Baby

On-demand feeding is increasingly recommended versus feeding babies on four-hour schedule, which had been associated with a failure to thrive. Breast milk gets out of baby’s stomach in about 45 minutes, much shorter time than formula milk as casein takes a longer time to digest. Mothers who breastfeed will not need to worry about under or over feeding their babies.

How to Prevent Illness

Dr Sears recommended breastfeeding, feeding the child with real food (not processed, junk food), immune-boosting foods (see this Dr Sears Lean Series: Raising Healthy Kids by Boosting Immune System) and get the recommended vaccinations.

A word on vaccinations:

Dr Sears shared that vaccinations are good for the child, family and society. About 2.5 million life are saved per year but sadly, 1.5 million children die each year from vaccine-preventable disease. It is a myth that vaccinations should be put on hold till the child is holder, as the whole point of vaccination is to protect the infant who is the most vulnerable. MMR (measles) vaccine has also been disproven to cause autism through a study involving 500,000 children.

What to do with Colic Baby

Colic is mostly due to Gastroesophageal reflux which should not be ignored because continued severe reflux can damage the lining of the esophagus. Sleeping in inclined upright position, sipping rather than drinking too much at a go, antacid prescriptions can help relieve the reflux.

What to do with Fussy Baby

Again, similar to colic baby that is better termed ‘hurting baby’, fussy baby is better termed ‘high need baby’. These babies have a higher need to be touched, held, more intense, more active, therefore demanding and draining their parents more. As they can be more sensitive to separation, it is best to hold these babies in arms, closer to breast.

I didn’t get to have Dr Sears vet through this post before publishing, any and all mistakes mine. Next week, we will cover more on parenting.

Rise and Shine Feature – Attachment Parenting with Dr Sears

Listening to the esteemed Dr Sears speak on healthy child is a privilege!

Listening to the esteemed Dr Sears speak on healthy child is a privilege!

Rise and Shine Expo, an informative expo to raise happy and healthy children, was held in Singapore last year. There were more than 100 seminars, workshops and trial classes, conducted by renowned experts around the world, including Dr Bill Sears who gave a seminar on ‘Keeping Your Child Healthy’.

Dr. Bill Sears, one of America’s most renowned pediatricians, is the father of eight children, and author of over 40 books on childcare. He is the Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine. Dr Sears Lean has a series on this blog, covering many aspects of raising healthy kids.

Last week, we covered Dr Sears’ talk on colic and attachment parenting, the latter we will explore more in-depth today.

Dr Sears shared in the workshop at Rise and Shine Expo ‘Attachment Parenting and Handling Gassy and High-Need Babies’ that during his first venture into parenthood, he decided to make a checklist of desired qualities in children who he helped in his practice and asked what the parents do. It turned out that the parents were practising attachment parenting!

To help us all understand what attachment parenting is, especially important given all the misinformation on what it is, Dr Sears shared the Baby B’s of Attachment Parenting:

Birth bonding – keep baby with the mother after birth

Breastfeeding – breast milk recommended for baby’s nutrition

Baby wearing – sling is preferred so that baby can be close to the parent (either dad or mom can baby wear)

Bed sharing – sleeping beside the baby has been studied to lead to better physiology, and the baby experienced more even breathing, better growth, less stress hormones, lower glucocorticoids neurotoxicity.

Believe Baby’s Cries – leaving the baby to cry it out alone leads to prolonged stress, which can damage the hippocampus. It risks neonatal glucocorticoid neurotoxicity which can carry over into adulthood. During infancy, a baby who is carried by parents cries less and has lower risk of this toxicity. Interestingly, babies who cry but do so in the arms of others do not suffer from this effect.

Beware of Baby Trainers – for the same reason above, methods that sought to train babies are to be wary of.

Balance – Dr Sears shared that babies whose parents practiced the above (as much as they can, need not be all if not possible), have been observed to have the Childhood Cs.

Caring kids – play better with other children

Compassionate

Communicative

Connected

Comfortable with intimacy – better lovers

Confident kids – as well as better behaved and more resilient, resourceful, respectiful and thoughtful

Confident parents – these children become confident parents who connect better to their children

I raised a question on how long the Baby Bs can be practised, in particular sleeping with the baby. Case in point – I’ve been sleeping with mine ever since she can’t be swaddled just to watch over the scratching of eczema at night. Marcie is now 4, and we are still sleeping together. Will there be any developmental issues associated with sleeping with a child, who is no longer a baby?

Dr Sears and Martha: Dr Sears and his wife Martha shared that they do not purposely shift their children (they have eight!) out of their bed or bedroom but let the transition comes naturally as an older child start to want to have their own bed/room. This has not been studied and the best arrangement is the one that works for the whole family.

Dr Sears also shared that given that working mothers had less time with their children, practising attachment parenting is even more important. And as an ending comment, Parenting is Giving our Children the Tools to Succeed in Life.

I didn’t get to have Dr Sears vet through this post before publishing, any and all mistakes mine; next week we will tackle more health issues, such as nutrition, colic and vaccinations.

Rise and Shine Feature – Healthy Child with Dr Sears

Listening to the esteemed Dr Sears speak on healthy child is a privilege!

Listening to the esteemed Dr Sears speak on healthy child is a privilege!

Rise and Shine Expo, an informative expo to raise happy and healthy children, was held in Singapore last year. There were more than 100 seminars, workshops and trial classes, conducted by renowned experts around the world, including Dr Bill Sears who gave a seminar on ‘Keeping Your Child Healthy’.

Dr. Bill Sears, one of America’s most renowned pediatricians, is the father of eight children, and author of over 40 books on childcare. He is the Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine. Dr Sears Lean has a series on this blog, covering many aspects of raising healthy kids.

Last week, we covered Dr Sears’ talk on recent studies on diabetes, Omega 3, exercise and smoking. Today, we will cover more on colic and attachment parenting.

Colic

Dr Sears explained that for many years, colic had not been understood by physicians and parents although recently, more causes had been known. Dr Sears also suggested replacing the term ‘colic’ which has taken on a negative connotation to the ‘hurting baby’.

Gastroesophageal reflux (also known as ‘heart burn’) – This condition is due to the lower esophageal sphincter not being closed tightly, allowing reflux and leading to colic. Symptoms include sudden crying outbursts, irritable child, sour burps and throaty noises of the baby which worsens when the baby is lying down. The reflux may be a reaction to (i) eating too fast or (ii) incorrect formula choice, including being allergic to food allergens in the breast milk or the formula, or being intolerant to cow’s milk protein. A leaky latch-on for a breast-fed baby is also a hint of intolerances to the breast milk.

Parents can help by gathering information for the doctor’s diagnosis, such as journaling the baby cries, tracking possible triggers and what works/does not. Recording videos of the baby having a reflux can also aid the doctor in his/her diagnosis.

The gastroesophageal reflux can be relieved through prescription antacids, avoidance of fuss foods (common ones are diary, wheat, caffeine and gassy foods like broccoli and onions) and having the baby eat and sleep in a more upright position. Feeding twice as often can also relieve the reflux symptoms for these babies.

Attachment parenting

Dr Sears shared that attachment parenting is simple as in it is the mother (and father) doing what they would naturally do, without wrong advice or pressures relating to ‘letting the baby cry it out’. First, let’s explore what’s wrong with the ‘let baby cry it out’ advice:

Should Baby be Left to Cry it Out? NO – Dr Sears shared that training the baby to sleep, despite crying is the wrong advice. The newborn baby would naturally want to be near to the mother and intentionally leaving the baby alone and forcing the mother not to carry the crying baby has been studied to have negative effects. For one, a mother who implements this incorrect advice will overtime lose the natural sensitivity to the baby. On the other hand, the baby who has cried it out experiences slower growth, partly due to the body ‘shutting down’ due to lose of trust that care will be provided. A simple guideline for parents to know what to do or not do is ask

‘If I were my child, how would I want my parents to respond?’

Next week, we will learn more in-depth from Dr Sears on attachment parenting – what to do and its benefits. I didn’t get to have Dr Sears vet through this post before publishing, any and all mistakes mine.

Rise and Shine Feature – Healthy Child with Dr Sears

Listening to the esteemed Dr Sears speak on healthy child is a privilege!

Listening to the esteemed Dr Sears speak on healthy child is a privilege!

Rise and Shine Expo, an informative expo to raise happy and healthy children, was held in Singapore last year. There were more than 100 seminars, workshops and trial classes, conducted by renowned experts around the world, including Dr Bill Sears who gave a seminar on ‘Keeping Your Child Healthy’.

Dr. Bill Sears, one of America’s most renowned pediatricians, is the father of eight children, and author of over 40 books on childcare. He is the Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine. Dr Sears Lean has a series on this blog, covering many aspects of raising healthy kids.

In the seminar held at Rise and Shine Expo, Dr Sears provided many tips for delivering and raising a healthy baby. His emphasis was to share tips that had been studied in recent years to help raise a healthy baby, including below:

Diabetes – Diabetes is an increasing and worrying condition among children. The risk of diabetes decrease with healthy choices and conversely, increase with unhealthy ones. Although genes play a role, recent studies show that whether that gene is expressed is determined by healthy choices, including those at pregnancy. Eating too much junk food and lack of exercise contributes to the rising diabetes problem in children in the US.

Exercise – Exercise can help the baby to be healthier as recent studies found that the body’s internal ‘medicine’ is released from the endothelium, the inside lining of blood vessels. Exercise creates an energy field and the glands along the endothelium open up, releasing ‘medicines’ for growth and regulating mood into the blood vessels, which in turn are circulated. An unhealthy diet and lack of exercise clogs the endothelium, preventing these ‘medicines’ from being released.

Effect of Omega 3 – Increase intake of omega 3, such as fish oil with EPA and DHA during pregnancy has been associated with reduced post-partum depression, less premature births, fewer incidences of pre-eclampsia and less gestational diabetes. Numerous times during the talk, Dr Sears recommended that we stick to the Asian diet which is typically higher in fish and other safe seafood.

Dr Sears also shared the theory that post-partum depression is linked to Omega 3 deficiency – the theory is that the baby drains the mother as their brain grows most during pregnancy and the first year. A baby’s brain is 60% fat and uses glucose and oxygen. Therefore, appropriate intake of omega 3, carbohydrates and antioxidants are required. Dr Sears illustrated that omega 3 is to brain like calcium is to bone, responsible for brain cell membrane fluidity and myelin development. Omega 3 has also been associated with improved cognitive abilities of children and improved visual acuity.

Smoking – Smoking is not recommended and linked to many risks for the baby, including sudden infant death syndrome, affecting the breathing of babies via the paralysis of cilia (found in windpipes for sweeping dirt from lungs), doubling the risk of respiratory infection and causes higher nicotine levels in breast milk. Moreover, smoking also lowers prolactin, which stimulates mammary glands in preparation for milk production.

Dr Sears’ Eating Tips for Pregnant Moms – Apart from exercise, healthy diet with Omega 3, Dr Sears also provided an easy to remember tip for pregnant moms:

Eat twice as often

Eat half as much

Chew twice as long

Take twice the time to dine

I didn’t get to have Dr Sears vet through this post before publishing, any and all mistakes mine. Next week, we will cover more of Dr Sears’ talk, including on attachment parenting and (the mysterious) colic.

Dr SEARS L.E.A.N. Series: Raising Healthy Kids by Boosting Immune System

Image from www.drsearslean.com

This is a fortnightly series focused on raising healthy children, following the advice on DrSearsLean.com. Marcie Mom came across Dr Sears’ Lifestyle-Exercise-Attitude-Nutrition approach for healthy families and found it to be practical and fun to follow. However, parents of eczema children may have reservation on certain healthy tips such as bringing their child for swimming (‘Lifestyle’) or eating fruits and vegetables (‘Nutrition’). This series examine if there’s truly a need to restrict eczema children from following the LEAN tips and take note of DrSearsLEAN’s recommendation at the end of each post!

Choosing A Healthy Food

Boosting our immune system is important, particularly for both parents and children with eczema because the lack of sleep can lower our immunity. As recommended on DrSearsLean.com’s Nutrition Tips page, we should choose healthy food that contain the following eight immune system boosters, namely vitamin C, vitamin E, carotenoids, bioflavonoids, zinc, garlic, selenium and omega-3 fatty acids. Out of these eight immunity boosters, parents may find that zinc and essential fatty acids are often recommended for children with eczema.

Get Healthy Eating Food, not Supplement

There’s some research that points to zinc and omega-3 fatty acids can help to reduce skin rashes in adults and also that eczema children appear to be deficient in essential fatty acids which results in a lower production of anti-inflammatory prostaglandins that can help fight skin infection. However, research is not conclusive as clinical trials have also been conducted with no significant impact on eczema. Parents should incorporate the immune system booster food into the child’s diet rather than in supplement as excessive intake of say, zinc can inhibit immune function. The RNI (reference nutrient intake) for zinc is 4mg per day for a six month-old and 5mg for a toddler. Zinc-rich foods include beans, chickpeas, beef, turkey and spinach while omega-3 rich foods are salmon, tuna and sardines.

DrSearsLEAN’s recommendation

To improve your child’s skin from the inside out, add these nutrients to his or her diet:

  • Fruits and vegetables can help improve allergic and inflammatory diseases like eczema. If you have a picky eater who avoids fruits and veggies, you may consider giving them a whole food supplement to help boost their immune system. I personally have been taking a whole food supplement called Juice Plus for the past 15 years and it is the only whole food supplement I recommend to my patients. You can learn more about my view on whole food and omega-3 supplements at http://www.drsearslean.com/resources/healthy-tips/nutrition/supplements/
  • An omega-3 supplement provides beneficial fats to help the skin stay healthy. Good sources of Omega-3s are avocados, salmon, tuna, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds.
  • Probiotics taken in liquid, powder, or pill form can help decrease food allergies.

MarcieMom: Thank you Dr. Sears for being with us throughout the whole series. I’ve been so glad and delighted to hear your advice which definitely gives me the confidence to raise a healthy child, despite her eczema.

Dr SEARS L.E.A.N. Series: Raising Healthy Kids through Healthy Drinks

Image from www.drsearslean.com

This is a fortnightly series focused on raising healthy children, following the advice on DrSearsLean.com. Marcie Mom came across Dr Sears’ Lifestyle-Exercise-Attitude-Nutrition approach for healthy families and found it to be practical and fun to follow. However, parents of eczema children may have reservation on certain healthy tips such as bringing their child for swimming (‘Lifestyle’) or eating fruits and vegetables (‘Nutrition’). This series examine if there’s truly a need to restrict eczema children from following the LEAN tips and take note of DrSearsLEAN’s recommendation at the end of each post!

Choosing A Healthy Drink

Parents beware that not all drinks packaged for children and have ‘vitamins’ listed on the packaging are healthy. As stated on DrSearsLean.com’s Nutrition Tips page, drinks with the main ingredient ‘high fructose corn syrup’ may result in overeating because it does not trigger a hormone, leptin, that creates fullness. Moreover, children who drink more than 12 ounces per day of concentrated juice are more likely to be overweight. For eczema children, it’s also best to avoid sugary drinks which contain caffeine (may trigger eczema), increase tooth decay while artificially flavored drinks have been linked to ADHD. For a healthy choice, plain water with lots of fruits and vegetables is best. http://www.drsearslean.com/resources/healthy-tips/nutrition/whats-in-your-childs-drink/

Water – Does Softening Water Help?

Water makes up 60% of our body and is useful for flushing out waste and toxins. There are some observations that eczema is more prevalent in areas where water is hard as the higher calcium and magnesium content may be a skin irritant. However, from a clinical trial conducted by Professor Hywel Williams and Dr Kim Thomas of the Centre of Evidence Based Dermatology at University of Nottingham, there is no impact of using softened water on eczema. However for parents who have found water softeners to improve their children’s eczema, they certainly can continue to do so. Skincare routine like moisturizing, showering without using harsh soap and appropriate treatment is still required.

DrSearsLEAN’s recommendation

Water is an essential nutrient. Water is to our body what oil is to a car; we can’t function without it. Like growing plants, growing kids need lots of water. Our bodies are 50 to 70 percent water, and much of that water has to be replaced every day. Water helps prevent constipation, eliminate toxins from the body, hydrate the brain, and keeps breathing passages moist and clear of mucus. As a general rule, children need around one ounce of fluid per pound of body weight per day. The majority of your fluids should be from plain water, but a small amount of fluids can also be from milk or 100% fruit juice. Drinking soda should be discouraged. Many juice drinks and all sodas are high in calories, provide no nutrients, and are usually sweetened with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which you should always avoid. Click here to learn more about why you should avoid HFCS: http://www.drsearslean.com/2011/10/the-high-fructose-corn-syrup-debate/

MarcieMom: Thank you Dr. Sears for your advice. Next interview, we’ll conclude this series by learning about how to boost our children’s immune system.

Dr SEARS L.E.A.N. Series: Raising Healthy Kids through Fun Exercise

Picture of Labrador Nature Reserve Singapore from www.comesingapore.com

This is a fortnightly series focused on raising healthy children, following the advice on DrSearsLean.com. Marcie Mom came across Dr Sears’ Lifestyle-Exercise-Attitude-Nutrition approach for healthy families and found it to be practical and fun to follow. However, parents of eczema children may have reservation on certain healthy tips such as bringing their child for swimming (‘Lifestyle’) or eating fruits and vegetables (‘Nutrition’). This series examine if there’s truly a need to restrict eczema children from following the LEAN tips and take note of DrSearsLEAN’s recommendation at the end of each post!

Indoors Fun versus Sweating it Outdoors

There are many fun activities to do indoors and some of the Exercise tips on DrSearsLean.com are ‘put together a PLAY basket’ and ‘get a pedometer’. One of the tips is ‘plan your family vacation around an outdoor activity’, such as camping which is an opportunity to get away from technology and instead, do some biking and hiking. However, outdoor exercise inadvertently comes with sun and sweat. Heat and perspiration is the number one trigger for eczema and is also the only trigger I’ve identified for my baby. The combination of heat and perspiration may set off a ‘heat rash’ as an eczema child’s skin is more vulnerable to chemicals in sweat which may irritate the skin.

Sunlight – To Block or Not?

According to a factsheet from the National Eczema Society, sun exposure is drying to the skin and may aggravate eczema for some people. Ron Sweren, M.D., a dermatologist and director of the photo-medicine unit at Johns Hopkins also said that sunlight can serve as a trigger that worsens eczema. To prevent sunburn, sunscreen lotion is a must but again, you can read here that some of the ingredients may also irritate your child’s skin. Moreover, according to Sewon Kang, M.D., director of department of dermatology at John Hopkins, increased sweating will lead to more showers taken, which again could worsen the eczema. In less common cases, there may be sunlight allergy or photosensitive eczema which further restricts exposure to sun.

However, there are also cases of eczema that improve with sunlight exposure and there’s a treatment known as phototherapy that exposes the skin to UVA1 rays that can soothe the skin without causing sunburn. Moreover, vitamin D that comes from sunlight has been shown to increase the production of skin proteins (cathelicidin) which protects against skin infection. Personally, I think it’s a fine balance; we bring our baby to the zoo, picnic and park but only on shady days and always with a hat and sunscreen lotion. You can also refer to these posts to see how much we moisturize and how we shower her. Have fun as a family, our children will grow up before we know it (and hopefully grow out of eczema before that)!

Dr Sears L.E.A.N.’s recommendation

Eczema results from the combination of a genetic tendency toward dry, sensitive skin and a susceptibility to allergies. Although most children aren’t bothered by the day-to-day wear and tear of soaps, dirt, sweat, heat, clothing, and everything else we come into contact with, the skin of a child with eczema is hypersensitive to everyday life. It is important for you to monitor your child and identify the main trigger for developing eczema flare-ups. For some it could be heat and sweat, others are triggered by what they eat (or what mom eats if they are breastfeeding), grass, dirt, or chemicals in the environment around them. Although there is nothing you can do to change your child’s genetic susceptibility to dry, sensitive skin, there are many steps you can take to improve skin health, reduce exposure to irritants, track own allergic triggers, and minimize the impact the eczema has on your child’s day-to-day life. For more helpful tips, visit www.drsearslean.com

MarcieMom: Thank you Dr. Sears for your advice. For next two interviews, we’ll learn more about nutrition!

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