16 Secrets of Pediatrician Parents

These top doctors see dozens of little patients every week, but their at-home experience inspired this fresh advice. 

6 Secrets of Pediatrician Parents

Emergency Care

I go by the three-minute stitches test. "Wrap ice in a paper towel and apply it firmly to a cut for three minutes straight. The pressure and ice will stop the bleeding if the wound isn't severe enough for stitches. If it's still bleeding after three minutes, go to the emergency room." - Zeyed Baker, M.D., pediatrician in Secaucus, New Jersey, and dad of two

Epsom salt works wonders. "It's one of my secret remedies to kill germs and prevent infection on cuts and scrapes. My son cut his foot and after the bleeding stopped, I filled a big spaghetti pot with warm water and 2 to 4 tablespoons of the salt and had him soak his foot in it." -Tanya Altmann, M.D., author of Mommy Calls and mom of three 

Parenting

Be sure you're not burping your baby in the wrong spot. "After each feeding, hold your baby upright while burping the part of his back that's opposite his belly button. And use some muscle!" - Dr. Baker 

If you see a tantrum about to erupt, tell your child to run it off. "When my children were young, this strategy usually worked because it gave them a healthy way to channel their energy and frustration. Once they calmed down, I explained that the next time they feel angry they should first start to run hard in place, then after a while stop and breathe deeply to be able to think again. - Kenneth Ginsburg, M.D., author of Building Resilience in Children and Teens and dad of two 

There's a better name for picky eating"Call them exploring eaters—it teaches that eating is a journey and that they can keep practicing. It took my son more than 11 years to enjoy a raw tomato!" - Nimali Fernando, M.D., coauthor of Raising a Healthy, Happy Eater and mom of two 

Avoiding the Doctor's Office

Hand-washing is the top thing your kids can do to keep healthy. "Wash for 15 seconds (or the time it takes to sing the ABCs), scrubbing between the fingers and under the nails. They should do it after they go to the bathroom, after they enter your home, and before they eat." - Tiffany Knipe, M.D., pediatrician in New York City and mother of two

Elderberry syrup is a fantastic addition to your medicine cabinet. "Elderberries have antiviral properties and are thought to boost the immune system. You can take the syrup once a day for prevention and up to three times a day to lessen the intensity and duration of a viral illness. I give it to my daughter when we travel on a plane or when she is around someone with a cold or flu." - Heather Jeney, M.D., integrated pediatrician at The Whole Child Center, in Oradell, New Jersey, and mom of one 

Solve any sleep problems by sticking to a strategy for two weeks. "Many parents give up after a few unsuccessful nights, which is too short to bring about change. On the flip side, if that strategy isn't working after two weeks, it's time to try a new approach."  - Karen Hentschel-Franks, D.O., pediatric sleep specialist in San Antonio and mom of three

Your parental instincts can be more powerful than a medical degree. Never doubt them. "Nobody understands a child better than her parents, and I've seen this proven true a number of times. If you know in your heart that something isn't right, don't be afraid to come back for a follow-up." - Jeremy Fishelberg, M.D., pediatrician in Rockville, Maryland, and dad of two 

The real dangers to kids aren't what you think. "I never batted an eyelash when my toddler ate something off the ground or climbed high at the playground. What truly scares me: unmounted furniture, unfamiliar dogs, open windows, and swimming pools. Injuries from these are life-threatening and more frequent than you'd imagine." - Wendy Hunter, M.D., pediatric emergency-room doctor in San Diego and mom of two

A common pantry staple can help ease an earache. To clear fluid in the ear or relieve ear pain, add a few drops of olive oil directly into your child's ear. The oil soothes the eardrum and may help fluid drain more easily." - Dr. Jeney 

Self-Care

Kids, even preschoolers, should know the real names of their private parts. "It allows them to speak comfortably to their parents and doctor. I've treated boys who were afraid to tell us that they had testicular pain and girls who didn't tell us that it hurts to pee. Plus, down the road, it will make the sex talk much less embarrassing and awkward." - Dr. Hunter

When she's not sick, teach your child how to swallow pills. "Start practicing with mini M&M's and work your way up to shelled edamame. When children aren't swallowing medicine, the fear factor goes down. "  - Cara Natterson, M.D., author and founder of WorryProofMD.com and mom of two 

It's reassuring to tell kids with food allergies that they're as healthy and strong as superheroes. "When my older son developed allergies to tree nuts, I saw how important it was for him to consider himself healthy. We can help our kids build confidence in managing their food allergies." - Michael Pistiner, M.D., cofounder of AllergyHome.org and dad of two 

Potty Training

Readiness is the magic word. "Let your child watch you go, and high-five him on how much fun it was. The more your child watches his favorite role model in a pressure-free environment the more he'll warm up to the idea." - Dr. Fishelberg

If your toddler hides behind the couch to poop, put the potty there. "She might just get the hint!" - David Hill, M.D., author of Dad to Dad: Parenting Like a Pro and father of five