Parenting Consultants in Philly: Do You Actually Need One?

Mommy's Little Helper:  Baby concierge Marisa Piccarreto at her South Street boutique. Photograph by Jillian Guyette

Mommy’s Little Helper: Baby concierge Marisa Piccarreto at her South Street boutique. Photograph by Jillian Guyette

Last fall, 20 hours after our firstborn came home from the hospital, our little family welcomed its first visitor: my lactation consultant. She glided in, assessed and tweaked my nursing technique, and left her number should any drama arise. It was, my husband and I agreed, $150 well spent.

My lactation consultant. I know this sounds like something you’d hear on Real Housewives of Bourgeoisville. A co-worker—a boomer who’s raised two children—didn’t pull any punches when, a few months later, we were discussing the recent uptick in Philly pros to whom your average parent is turning for help: the nursing experts, yes, but also the sleep consultants, the postpartum doulas, the child nutritionists and so forth.

“You fucking incompetents!” she hooted. “We had help. It was called Dr. Spock.”

Today’s parents have Dr. Spock, too. But now we also have Dr. Sears. And Baby Wise. And the Baby Whisperer. And the Internet.
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Mom’s Tylenol Use, Dad’s Age Are Latest Suspects on ADHD Front

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A pair of recently concluded long-term studies may shine some light on the causes of ADHD as well as other mental illnesses including bipolar disorder, autism and psychosis.

In the first, published online by JAMA Pediatrics, researchers at UCLA linked the use by pregnant women of over-the-counter acetaminophen—the pain reliever in Tylenol—with a heightened risk of both attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and hyperkinetic disorder, an especially severe form of ADHD. The researchers reviewed the health histories of some 64,000 children and mothers in the Danish National Birth Cohort between the years 1996 to 2002—histories that included phone interviews during pregnancy, six months after childbirth, and when children turned seven. Birth Cohort moms had taken a standard behavioral screening questionnaire while pregnant; researchers also checked with the national health registries for diagnoses of hyperkinetic disorder and use of ADHD meds. Read more »

Sorry, Parents: That “Make Your Baby a Genius,” Early-Learning Product You Bought Doesn’t Do Jack

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We know, we know: Your baby is the smartest baby ever. You made sure of that when you shelled out big bucks for a program to teach her to read even before she could walk. You know the one—DVDs, flashcards, flip books, all guaranteed, if used on a daily basis, to get your special snowflake into the best preschool, the best prep school, and then Harvard here we come!

Um. Not.

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In Triple Package, Do Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld Actually Believe What They’re Saying?

amy-chua-facebook-940x540Amy Chua is the self-proclaimed “Tiger Mom” who came into the collective consciousness in 2011 when the Wall Street Journal published an excerpt of her book The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother under the headline “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior.”

As you read her work, Chua blasts holes into her own arguments, one minute decrying stereotyping and the next relying heavily on them to make her points. Within the first line of the piece Chua concedes (although I don’t think this was her intention) that the image of “successful kids” of Chinese parents is rooted in stereotype. She goes on to clean up the mess she’s created in using broad terms with the following:

“I’m using the term ‘Chinese mother’ loosely. I know some Korean, Indian, Jamaican, Irish and Ghanaian parents who qualify too. Conversely, I know some mothers of Chinese heritage, almost always born in the West, who are not Chinese mothers, by choice or otherwise. I’m also using the term ‘Western parents’ loosely. Western parents come in all varieties.”

She then goes on to retract her concession, and pivots again to acknowledge that we are “squeamish” about cultural stereotyping.

Recently, in a piece for the New York Times titled “What Defines Success?” Chua and her husband, Jed Rubenfeld, pen an essay in advance of their new book, The Triple Package, that is beyond nauseating.

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Dad Files: Why Every Philly Parent Should Check Out Nest

Parents and kids play at Nest / Photo via Facebook

Parents and kids play at Nest / Photo via Facebook

Our boys ran in circles at first, so overwhelmed by their options they couldn’t settle in and play with any single toy till they inventoried them all. The place was almost empty, with just a couple of other children inside, so we could hear Jack and Eli babbling and cooing as they toddled, fast as they could go, from one side of the room to the other.

My wife and I have not been shy about getting our boys, 18-month-old fraternal twins, out into the world. We’ve fed them in highchairs on the beach and in Rittenhouse Square and on the sidewalk in front of Shake Shack. We take them to the neighborhood playgrounds, around the Graduate Hospital area, and, weather permitting, to the merry go round at Franklin Square. We’ve taken them to the Please Touch Museum so many times that they smile contentedly and wait to be strapped into their car seats as soon as we tell them we’re going. But this last weekend we took our first and second trips to Nest, an indoor play space at 13th and Locust.

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Pediatrician: “We Don’t Accept Patients Whose Parents Won’t Vaccinate Them”

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There’s an interesting read over on the Daily Beast right now that’s (not surprisingly) making a lot of waves among parents. It’s a rant-y piece by a New England pediatrician (he writes under the pseudonym Russell Saunders), who explains why his office has a no-exceptions policy regarding kids whose parents refuse to give them vaccines. The policy in question? That those kids are personae non gratae in his practice. Period.

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While Making Guacamole For the Super Bowl, I Discovered My Kids Are Now Smarter Than I Am

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Photo | Shutterstock

I had the avocados. I had a couple of tomatoes, and a lime. I even had cilantro, which I’d hiked all the way back across the vast stretches of our grocery store to get—who decreed that suburban grocery stores should be the size of the Pentagon, anyway?—after I forgot it on my first foray through the produce aisle. So I was pretty sure I had everything I needed to make guacamole for the Super Bowl yesterday when, early in the afternoon, I sliced open the first avocado. Everything was going smoothly until I took a taste of the finished product.

Something wasn’t right.

I called my daughter Marcy. A year spent in Mexico made her a guacamole expert; I’ve watched her stir the stuff up practically one-handed.

“Hey!” she said, answering her phone for once.

“Hey!” I said. “Is there hot sauce in guacamole?”

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Dad Files: How to Stay Happy in Marriage—Even When You Have Kids

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On an average day, I wake up a little after 6 a.m., make myself a cup of coffee and prepare breakfast—oatmeal with bananas, or maybe eggs (followed by bananas)—for my 18-month-old boys. I sing to them, usually beginning my set list with “Seven Nation Army,” thumping out the beat on the trays of their highchairs.

By 8 a.m., I probably have sung four or five songs, danced for several minutes, and tickled both boys till they are red in the face. The tickling, these days, occurs in the circus tent we erected in our living room. And no, I am not kidding. There is a circus tent in our living room.

Given that my mornings revolve around silly games, open displays of affection and music, I was a little surprised to see a controversy erupt last week over a new set of studies, one of which concludes that childless couples are happier than parents.

Really? I asked, unable to wipe the smile from my face.

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