Dr. Gigi Chawla
Ask the Pediatrician
I was one of thousands of pediatricians in attendance at the 2017 American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) national conference in September. We spent our days in learning sessions, discussing research and new recommendations from the pediatric health-care organization that sets the stage for more than 66,000 pediatricians. Among all the best-practices topics discussed, teenage health was a prominent subject. While many people associate pediatricians with young children, teens... more
Help for shot phobia
Q: My young toddler is needle phobic. Help!A: Vaccines are incredibly important for all children. They prevent life-threatening or debilitating infections; decrease illness and comorbid conditions; and challenge our immune systems to weather disease exposure throughout life, regardless of where we might travel.Most... more
No sleep for a year?
Q: The AAP now says parents and infants should sleep in the same room through age 1. But I can’t sleep because I wake up with every false cry my baby makes! Can I break this rule?A: In October 2016, the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) officially recommended that in order to lower the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS),... more
What kind of milk is best for our child?
Q: My husband and I have started the discussion of what type of milk our son (10 months) will drink when we switch from formula to milk. My husband is pretty set on not giving him dairy milk, but I’m not convinced soy, almond and other sources of “milk” are such a good idea. Any suggestions?A: Milk types can be divided into two... more
When will she ever really sleep?
Q: Our daughter is 6 and still isn’t sleeping through the night!  A: Sleep problems are common in kids. Such disturbances in sleep — falling asleep, staying asleep, awakening early and restless sleep — can impact the whole family, not just at night, but throughout the day. While there are many learned behavioral issues that can... more
Causes for under-eye circles
Q: What could cause dark under-eye circles in my toddler?A: The area under eyes has thin and delicate skin, which often will easily show the capillary bed, which can show up in the form of dark, under-eye circles. Among young children, the most common cause is nasal congestion. This can be caused by allergies, smoke exposure, a... more
Effective ADHD supplement?
 Q: We saw this supplement at Costco and on Amazon and we were intrigued because our 5-year-old has been presenting some ADHD-like symptoms at school. It promises to ‘support memory, concentration and focus.’ Is it worth a shot before trying prescription drugs? Reviews online seem positive.A: First it should be noted that 5-year-... more
Combating stinky toes
Q: My 3-year-old has insanely smelly feet. Help! A: Ah, one of the unforgettable aromas of childhood.Yes, kids have sweaty feet — and sweaty bodies — for a good part of the day. They’re constantly in motion, frequently breaking into sprints or suddenly wrestling with friends, often exercising on and off all day long. From... more
Why isn't my kid walking?
Q: My 1-year-old isn’t walking. How can I encourage her to at least try?A: It takes incredible strength, balance, coordination and bravery to take those first steps. Babies typically start walking between age 9 months and 15 months.Babies, who learn to walk best with bare feet, often begin near-walking by “creeping” alongside furniture... more
Does my teen have noise-induced hearing loss?
Q: Our teenager listens to music with over-ear headphones and she CRANKS them so loud! What is her risk of noise-induced hearing loss?A: If you’ve ever been to a music concert and left experiencing ringing in your ears and difficulty hearing, you know firsthand that loud sounds can cause hearing damage. Most of the time,... more
Is lisping normal for toddlers?
Q: My daughter is 2 years old and has a bit of a lisp. Does she need a speech therapist?A: Articulation concerns are common among parents. Acquisition of language sounds is expected along a continuum based on age, placement of tongue, generation of sound location and coordination. There’s also quite a range of anticipated “normal” ages... more
Why does my child prefer to play alone?
Q: My 2-year-old likes to play alone when other kids are around. Why? A: It’s normal for a 2-year-old to engage in solitary play. Solitary play is the first stage of play development.Children will explore learning and interacting with toys on their own or with caregivers, and at their own pace.They’re like little... more
Night terrors!
Q: Our daughter, 3, is waking up terrified in the middle of the night. Help! A: Night terrors are sleep disruptions that typically occur a few hours after kids fall asleep during transitions between sleep phases. This is different than nightmares, which arise during the dream stages of sleep, late into the night or in... more
How much sugar is too much?
Q: How many grams of sugar a day is OK for a kindergartener?A: Appropriate sugar intake is an important topic for kids, teens and grown-ups.Americans are, by far, some of the most obese and unhealthiest people in the world, despite our amazing health-care systems.Excessive sugar intake puts kids on a path to struggle with high... more
Dealing with sleep regression
Q: Is there such a thing as a 4-month sleep regression? Our daughter was sleeping seven hours a night and now — at 3½ months — she gets up every three hours! A: Sleep regression at four months is challenging: Parents — whose babies begin to sleep through the night — are just finally feeling like they can get uninterrupted sleep.... more
Picky eater or problem eater?
Q: We think our son is a problem eater (versus just a picky eater) because he eats only 10 foods — at age 2! What can we do to help him?A: You are not alone, despite almost all parents feeling like they are. Feeding challenges in children are common and affect approximately 20 percent of kids. The majority of this 20 percent are picky... more
What’s toe walking?
Q: Why does our 2-year-old insist on walking on his toes? A: When learning to walk, toddlers quickly discover that they have more control over their balance with their weight shifted slightly forward toward the balls of their feet. Then, when they lose their balance, they can more easily fall forward and use their arms and... more
Carseats on airplanes? Yes!
Q: Do we need a car seat for our 1-year-old on an airplane?A: Airline travel with young children is no easy task. The planning checklist often includes items needed to ensure adequate entertainment, food, diapering and clothing changes and comfort or transitional objects. But the most fundamental planning must start when... more
Sleeping 'through the night'
Q: How can we get our son, 4 months old, to sleep through the night? He’s still getting up every three hours.A: Infant sleep training has many notable gurus, Dr. Sears and Dr. Ferber, to name a few, who have devised methods to encourage sleep. The most important thing to recognize is that every baby is different and every... more
Starting solid foods
Q: When should we start our baby on solid foods? I've heard everything from a few weeks to four months!A: It’s not surprising that parents are confused about when to start solids, because clinicians are too! There’s evidence to wait until six months of age and evidence to start much earlier. Organizations, such as the... more
Twins in crib together?
Q: How long is it safe to keep infant twins in the same crib?A: Although it may seem harmless or even more natural to have twins in the same crib, this isn’t a practice endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The reason for this is the increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Twins are often born... more
Infants and allergies
Q: Can infants suffer from seasonal allergies?A: Allergies often are inherited, so observing for symptoms is important. When the immune system repeatedly is presented with a substance (allergen), the body can erroneously begin to recognize it as foreign and set off a cascade of cell activities similar to those triggered by an... more
Tips for trimming toenails
Q: How important is it to trim our son’s toenails? He’s too ticklish and/or fussy to let us near his feet.A: This is a perfect example of “choose your battles.” Toes are wiggly and feet are ticklish. Cooperation in this situation can be negligible, but distraction is an excellent strategy. Try doing the task while... more
Dealing with tantrums
Q: Our 3-year-old is having tantrums that last more than 30 minutes. What is going on?A: Imagine being too small to see what you’re looking for, dependent on others to offer you something to eat or drink and too uncoordinated to perform the skills you think you’re capable of. You have no choice in your wardrobe, daily... more
Birthmarks
Q: My son (age 7) has a dark birthmark on his back that I think he’s had all his life. His doctors have looked at it in the past and all have said it appears to be normal, but it keeps getting larger as his body grows bigger.  A: Birthmarks come in a variety of colors, shapes, locations and can change over time. There... more
Climbing out of the crib
Q: My toddler (20 months) is starting to climb out of her crib. Do we need a toddler bed already? A:  Yes. For your daughter’s safety, transitioning to a toddler bed is recommended. The act of climbing out of the crib is dangerous. It could result in a limb fracture from an arm or a leg trapped in between the crib slats,... more
Melatonin to help with sleep?
Q: Our 3-year-old son is having sleep troubles. Our friends are recommending melatonin supplements (gummies). Are they safe? A: Sleep problems in a 3-year-old are common and normal. Children at this age want to know their parents are available to them at any time, day or night. They want to delay sleep as long as... more