Author: Claire McCarthy

The only kids who need vitamins (spoiler alert: there aren’t many)

Gummy vitamins for children.

As a pediatrician, I get a lot of questions whether their children should take a multivitamin or other vitamin supplement. Parents think they will make their children healthier — and some think they will make them eat more (they don’t, sorry). Since our bodies need different vitamins to be healthy, they ask,

Should I give my child a multivitamin?

Not necessarily, actually. It turns out that most children don’t need them, making them an expensive waste of money. They can also be dangerous if children take too many, something that is very possible given that most chewable multivitamins for children taste like candy. And giving a vitamin can give families a false sense of security that their child is getting everything they need — when they aren’t.

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Four things you might not know about fever

4 things to know about fever in children.

Of everything we pediatricians get called about, I think that fever is the most common. Which isn’t surprising, given that fever can be a sign of illness. But despite the fact that it is so common, fever is often misunderstood — and often frightens people more than it should. Here are four things all parents should know about fever.

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Parenting in the age of fake news: 5 things you can start doing today

Fake or real news?

When I was in 7th grade, we did a unit in English class about how to read the newspaper. We learned where the most important stories were placed (to the right) and about how the stories were written so that the most important points were covered first (before the reader lost interest).

They didn’t teach us how to figure out if the stories were true, because back then it just didn’t occur to us that anyone would publish fake news. Now, it happens all the time.

It’s not that there have never been untrue stories published. But with the rise of the Internet, where anybody can post anything — and in an age when, in the race to present new content on a 24/7 news cycle, fact-checking doesn’t always happen — the number of fake stories has skyrocketed.

As if parenting weren’t hard enough these days, parents now have a new task: to teach their children to be savvy consumers of news. This is very important; if the next generation can’t tell fact from fiction when it comes to news, the future of our country and world could be in real jeopardy.

Here are five suggestions for giving children the skills they need to navigate the new reality of news:

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Remembering Aidan 20 years later

My son died 20 years ago last month.

We did our remembrance of him on his birthday earlier in the month, and that brought various condolences from various people. We are so sorry, they said. It must be so sad.

Although the condolences came from kindness, they felt off somehow. It’s not so much about sadness anymore. After 20 years, it’s different.

While Aidan was still alive, after he was diagnosed with a severe, life-limiting disability, I wrote something for Sesame Street Parents Magazine that our priest read at Aidan’s funeral:

All of us, at some point in our lives, are faced with something we didn’t expect and never wanted. What defines us, I think, is what we do with those things that life gives us. Very often, whether we are cursed or blessed is a matter of choosing.

Aidan’s family chooses to be blessed.

That’s how I feel: blessed.

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