Ask the grumpies: How do I ignore a terrible pediatrician?

Rented life asks:

What to tell pedi who says LO needs more sleep and shouldn’t wake got 10 hrs. Zie wakes after 6, nurses, sleeps again. Some nights 8-9 hr total sometimes 10 but never in one shot

“Can I get my kid’s records transferred to my new pedi?”

I wish. Sadly there aren’t many options where we live. The other place our friend’s brother has a huge lawsuit on bc they put rods in his back that had known bacteria problems…I generally don’t go to the dr because of these stupid things. But with the kid, I want the immunizations, etc.

In that case, we recommend the say nothing and continue doing as you damn well please method.  The human race wouldn’t have survived if kids couldn’t figure out how to get the right amount of sleep. Seriously.  (Exception for actual sleep disorders.  A baby sleeping for 6 hours and waking up when hungry is not a sleep disorder.)

26 Responses to “Ask the grumpies: How do I ignore a terrible pediatrician?”

  1. Leah Says:

    I often employ the “smile and nod” with my pedi. And sometimes her advice is spot on too, so I try to carefully consider as well.

    If your LO is, say, 7, you might have an issue. But my baby did the same for the first year of her life before settling down. She sleeps 11-12 hours at a stretch now, but I hear from parenting group that we are an outlier. Then again, it’s really hard to get her to nap, and all the other parents seem to not have the nap issues we have. Kids are still learning how to sleep. I always consider waking to nurse as different than waking up to play. As long as you’re functioning and the kid seems happy, it’s all good.

  2. Rented life Says:

    Wow. We don’t nurse anymore–flat out refused at 18 mo (mommy groups say that’s my fault. I say who cares, I did what I could.) but we still aren’t “awesome” at sleeping. And I can’t force it. I suspect zie is like hir mother and just doesn’t sleep straight through the night. Wakes once, needs to settle. But funny this posted after a particularly long night :) we are hoping language changes are around the corner. We got grief about that too–zie knows a lot. Just doesn’t talk as much as “should”.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      … 18 mo is extended nursing …

      Re: not sleeping through the night, have you tried pottying hir at that point? Our second would wake up when zie had to pee.

      Is your DC talking less than the AAP charts say zie should? If so, then that could be an indicator of a learning disability, extreme giftedness, or nothing at all. I’d also try getting it checked out by a specialist rather than by this particular pediatrician. If zie is just not meeting some arbitrary number set by the pedi, then smile and nod(!) (Our DC2 was extremely good at non-verbal communication and just didn’t need to use words as much as DC1!)

      • Rented life Says:

        Once in a while a diaper change/potty helps. I have never slept well so I tend to brush it off but the commentary (I’m looking at your grandparents) gets old. Dad is the worst “when you were a kid we just let you cry. It wasn’t that hard.” Thanks dad. And mom groups are filled with how you fail at life if your kid stops before 2. But he did and I couldnt fathom all the extra crap people suggested to get him started.

        I haven’t looked at th AAP charts. I’ll have to google that. He understands a ton. (I’m not bragging). He has chores and he’ll do them. She suggested calling early learning but the info EL sent me was horrid and the research used was older than me. She also said EL takes months to come out. He does do better with speaking when things are better at home and I’m able to focus. That hasn’t been lately (hubby had mental health crisis and then we had a swift illness and death of a relative -which is why I never got a chance to write a guest post. My life exploded).

        Right now my favorite is “help, help!” He says that for a lot including when I told him no for something and he ran to my mom and said help help! It was hilarious.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        That sucks that your life exploded and I’m sorry to hear about your relative. :( Hopefully things are settling down.

        Where I live, they think there’s something wrong with you if you don’t switch to formula once the baby gets hir first tooth! Culture is bizarre. And mom groups are even more bizarre.

        Something like this: http://kidshealth.org/parent/growth/communication/not_talk.html . Delayed speech (if your child actually has it, which is a big if!) is one of those things that probably isn’t a big deal, but could signal something that would benefit from early intervention. But I know at least one McArthur genius who didn’t really start speaking until one day he started with complete sentences.

      • Rented life Says:

        We aren’t doing much in terms of 2 word sentences despite my efforts to encourage it. If zie is communicating I won’t ignore it like the info we were given says to until it’s done “right” (2 words instead of one for example). Ignoring communication makes no sense to me–nonverbal is communication.

        Zie understands and does some of the stuff at 2-3 yo category and some of the 18-24 month stuff. But not stringing words together. And zie won’t talk at all around certain people which is why we get more comments I think (that’s from friends and family. Dr totally gets that she is a “stranger” and won’t get a normal response.)

        Life is getting better just very slowly.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Ignoring it seems like the opposite of everything I’ve read on increasing verbal communication, which is all about communicating more, not less. I think (and I am not an expert and it has been several years since I read anything about this topic) that you’re supposed to translate the non-verbal communication as a question and see if you can get the DC to parrot it back.

        If it’s just stranger specific, then I can’t imagine that would have anything to do with language development.

      • Rosa Says:

        My MiL said the same thing (we just let you cry/we just put you in bed and said you couldn’t get out so you didn’t) and you know what? Her son does not sleep. Never has. The other one does. My husband doesn’t. So the baby that woke up all the time became a toddler who slept abnormally short hours became a 10 year old who still doesn’t go to sleep easily and wakes up super easily unless he’s getting 2-3 hours of hard cardio exercise a day. Which we can’t do during school.

        I figure it’s genetic. But even if it’s not: cry it out didn’t solve it for his dad so why would I even try?

      • oldmdgirl Says:

        My parents said the same things to me. “I don’t know why YOU’RE having so much trouble, we just did XYZ.” Blah. So annoying.

        Mom groups ARE bizarre. I hate the herd mentality, so I tend to shun those kinds of things.

  3. oldmdgirl Says:

    I guess I just don’t understand what happened well enough to judge whether this pediatrician is actually “horrible.” In my experience, a lot of parents/patients have hot-button issues that they think are very important for their kids (or themselves), which may not have a lot of evidence base. They can be quick to label any doctor who does not agree with them as incompetent. Or, if a doctor raises an issue as a concern and it wasn’t on the patient’s/mom’s radar before, people can get very defensive about it. I see this all the time with my patients, and with family members. That said, if you hate your pediatrician or doctor, you should try to change, and if that’s not possible, a) smile and nod when they give you advice you don’t agree with, or b) avoid complaining about poor sleep if you don’t want guidance on how to fix it (for instance).

    • Rented life Says:

      I never said she was horrible. I did say the literature from EL was horrible. The only other pedi in our town IS horrible–that’s the one with the many lawsuits. When a dr of any kind only presents on option for issues and concerns (such as baby must sleep 10 hours and never wake) it’s hard to have a real conversation about anything. She has supported many of our other decisions (not doing day care or school yet even though my family insists it must happen right now or else Zie will never be socialized for the rest of hir life) and of course supports all of our decisions regarding immunization (get all the shots! On time!) and food choices. Not horrible. Just how do you deal with silly issues.

      For myself I do hate my dr but my options are limited. If I could see a different kind of dr instead of a GP and maintain my insurance I would. My experience with GP for my health issues has been awful. Basically lots of telling me I was faking the pain I was in.

      • oldmdgirl Says:

        My bad, I guess it was N&M who used the word “terrible” in the title of this post, not you.

        I’m sorry you hate your doctor. I hated mine too for a long time then finally found a new one. Sooooo much better. A lot of doctors don’t really know what to do with pain they can’t explain. 1/2 just throw opiods at you, the other 1/2 pat you on the head and tell you you’re crazy. It sounds like you could really use someone who really listens to you.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        In this case “terrible” was chosen because this doctor chose an extremely unlikely reality (an infant/baby sleeping in a 10 hour stretch) as hir representation of “normal” on a topic that already makes lots of mothers feel guilty. I don’t have much patience with doctors who veer from AAP recommendations in unproven ways that create unnecessary guilt and worry. It was a little bit of hyperbole, but a lot of hitting one of our pet peeves– feeding the maternal guilt complex.

  4. bogart Says:

    I agree with the Grumpies that the question of speech development could be worth investigating further, but not with this pedi.

    One thing I recognized really, really quickly as a parent was that for me there was no need to create problems out of things that weren’t problems (for me) — it was difficult enough as was. When that led to a need to tell our pedi that DS was no longer drinking out of a bottle (he drank (cow’s) milk out of a bottle until he was like 4, and I decided, what the heck — if a bottle of warm cow’s milk makes you happy, enjoy!) to avoid a scolding look/comment re: something I wasn’t going to change anyway, I just did it (yes, that’s right, I lied to the pediatrician). Because truthfully as I sometimes have to remind myself even today, the things that I (and we as a culture in much of the middle-class US) obsess about WRT parenting are such small potatoes that it’s absurd.

    Cloud (who sometimes posts here and may today) says something that to me means the same as what I’ve just said, which basically (her saying) is that if the solution is more trouble than the problem, then the problem’s not (enough of) a problem (to be worth solving). Sounds to me like that’s where you are with sleep. I’d quit discussing with the pedi (including, yes, lying), and carry on.

    • Rented life Says:

      It’s nice to hear someone else did the warm bottle of milk that long. We will have a two year check up around Christmas and I see that being an issue. But like you if it works I don’t plan on changing it it’s not like it’s the only way zie gets fluids. We use cups and straws. But milk for whatever reason is preferred warm in a bottle (gross).

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        With luck she won’t ask!

        Btw, with both our kids, we tried to take the milk bottle away (because daycare was insistent) and it was horrible. Then we tried again a few months later and it was a non-issue. Sometimes waiting just works.

    • Revanche Says:

      This made me a smile a bit as it reminds me of a funny-ish story when growing up. Apparently my sibling wasn’t ready to be weaned off the bottle at 3, so he took advantage of my arrival and when I was old enough to communicate with, he’d take my bottle, suck it down, and instruct me to go ask Mom for more. He got careless and gave himself away before too long but everyone blamed him for how I failed to thrive for years. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t really the reason I was skeletally skinny most of my life, nor was his attachment to the bottle the reason he didn’t turn out well in the end. I take the big picture view to parenting: we have much bigger problems to worry about, these things are indeed small potatoes.

  5. Dana Says:

    If you are in a small town (which only two doctors as options suggest) then there probably aren’t a lot of specialists around either. I would suggest EI isn’t a bad option for speech because the person will come to your house to assess and let you know whether they see this all the time or whether there is reason to be concerned. We did this (even though we were 98% sure there was no problem) and I picked the women’s brain as she did the assessment and it was very reassuring. It turned out that this particular daycare referred kids all the time for this issue and it was never/rarely anything (we moved him soon after this). I would have had no way of knowing that myself and it was VERY reassuring. Essentially the tester sees kids this age all the time and can give you a more informed opinion. Yes, it may take a while (by law I think it was required to be in less than one month upon referral where we live) and I don’t know if any therapy/services will be the best quality, but I think the option shouldn’t be totally dismissed. Sleep on the other hand, every kid is different and if it works for you then I would ignore the doctor.

  6. Jenny F. Scientist Says:

    I’d go with the smile and nod approach. I also live in a small town (though we have our choice of four practices!) and it can be really frustrating. Lying is an option (“everybody lies”) if the Dr. won’t let it go, but if you’re not concerned AND you’re not going to do anything and you can’t switch, I’d say just ignore the poor misguided soul.

    • Rented life Says:

      Small town and health insurance seriously limits our options. And we only have one car so I need to be able to walk there. That limits going to any options in nearby city.

  7. Ana Says:

    Is she very young/doesn’t have kids? re: the sleep, she may just be parroting what she read and doesn’t have a ton of real experience with caring for kids or actually knowing any kids. I could have seen myself rattling of that kind of “should” 10-15 years ago and not understanding how different kids can be in regards to things like sleep or eating or behavior. Unless I have a specific behavioral/developmental concern and ask that of the pedi, I usually do the smile/nod approach when my (young childless) doc starts going on about sleep or thumbsucking or eating vegetables.
    Speech delay on the other hand, may be worth looking into. We were told by our pedi to call ECI at 24 months, but by the time the appointment came around his language EXPLODED so we canceled it, but was good to have it on the books just in case. Since its a state-funded program, they may not have the resources to keep the brochures or website up to date, but the individual therapists may be excellent and up on the research, so I wouldn’t just brush it off based on that.

    • Rented life Says:

      FWIW, The pediatrician only suggested EL as an option. It is everyone else that is deeply concerned about his language not me. She didn’t even make it sound like she was deeply concerned I’m sorry that wasn’t clear in my earlier comment. I have a lot of help trying to type these comments today! He’s saying new words daily, hits many of the milestones above his age. He just doesn’t hit one particular milestone at his age I don’t think that’s enough for concern. I think it got confused that the pediatrician was being pushy about it because we were talking about her with sleep, however it’s more my family and our friends that are pushy about how he doesn’t talk enough around them or as much as kids who are older than him.

      Pedi isn’t young but I don’t know if she has children of her own. I’ve never thought to really ask. I think what really is happening as she is pushing the office party line, as the other pediatricians in this group are far more pushy about things like sleep training and not cosleeping. Overall she is the least pushy and these opinion type issues and focuses more attention on things like staying on track for immunizations good eating habits etc.

  8. Practical Parsimony Says:

    What age child is supposed to be sleeping 10 uninterrupted hours? I never had one of my three babies or toddlers sleep that long! My oldest spoke in full sentences when he was 18-months-old. He talked to strangers everywhere. I had to be told by other parents this was NOT normal. The second spoke early but not so early. However, in public she was mute. I got plenty of comments on that. The third only had to give a cute little grunt and her 7- and 9-yr-old siblings instantly gave her what she wanted to eat, taste, have. I told them she needed to learn to talk not grunt. They immediately followed my instructions that any sound that was similar to what she wanted was what we wanted. It was not perfect speech, but she was just over a year old. I also instructed them to speak back what we really wanted her to say. So, a “ba” from her was followed by “I want a banana” by the child talking with her who immediately allowed her a bite from a banana.

    I think the third child was the only child (age 5, almost 6) who slept 10 hours. She was frustrated and a screaming, scratching wildcat after she started to school. (Before the stresses or school, she was the most mellow of the three.) So, she played for 30 minutes while I heated leftovers from the night before. Then, I fed her, rocked her to sleep and had her in bed by 6:15 pm. I had to wake her at 7 am for school. As a teen, she still needed 12 hours of sleep. Every night, I prepared a plate for her for the next night, since I never had a meal ready by 3 pm.

    There is no right or wrong with sleeping. Well, the first was too easily awakened by anything for my comfort. The second wanted to get up and watch tv with her night owl mother. Then, the third slept like a rock.

    Yes, I rocked her to sleep because she was my last and I cherished holding her. The other two did not need immediate attention from me.

  9. Revanche Says:

    I feel like I was “promised” that LB would sleep through the night by 4-6 months and I’m feeling cheated because anytime ze gets 9 hours in a row, uninterrupted, I’m still haggard but grateful. Most nights ze is still waking after 3 hours or 7 seven hours. It’s weird. But ze is happy and healthy otherwise so I’m not going to worry about it.

    I’m feeling pretty lucky that not only do we have a wide array of peds to choose from, the one we got assigned at random is our style. Pretty mellow. Attentive to our concerns, but not overly invested in any one technique or school of thought where we feel like we’d have to lie if we disagreed. I would if I had to but I’d likely change peds first since it’s an option. He’s on his first child, about 12 months ahead of us IIRC, so he’s super understanding that while kids *generally* develop on a predictable sort of timeline, they’re also all so individual that most minor deviations really aren’t worth worrying about. Maybe the best part is he demonstrates stunningly accurate mimicry of what an infant will do in the next 2-4 weeks between appointments. That’s always good for a laugh.

  10. Leah Says:

    If what you’re doing is currently working for you, don’t stress about it. Even if pedi says something, go with what works for you. And then don’t discuss that thing with other parents/your parents/in-laws lest they think bringing it up means you want their advice.

    However, if what you’re doing is not working for you, then you need to figure out how to change that. Of course, it is hard to alter rhythms and patterns with kids. And you might not have the bandwidth right now for that, in which case keep with what you’re doing.

    With the mothers group . . . every mother is different too. In my parents’ group, still nursing at 16 months is the odd one out. So don’t stress on that too much either. Sorry your group isn’t more inclusive/supportive. We have a leader for ours, so maybe that also helps us from getting too derailed (our group is through the local early childhood center, so there’s a teacher for parents and a teacher for kids, and it’s usually pretty helpful).

    re: waking at night . . . my kid sleeps 10-12 hours at night. But she still wakes up once or twice most nights, gives a little fuss, and settles down again. Is that what your kid is doing? Hard to tell from your post and comments. But that is completely normal. The only way I’d be concerned is if your kid is waking up in the middle of the night and wanting to spend time playing or otherwise being awake. But a little night fuss is no big deal unless it’s keeping you from getting sleep. And plenty of the kids in our group are waking up once at night, crying, and needing mom/dad to come in and help settle them. You are not alone.


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