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When it's OK to lie to your pediatrician

Monica Beyer is a mom of four and has been writing professionally since 2000, when her first book, Baby Talk, was published. Her main area of interest is attachment parenting and all that goes with it, including breastfeeding, co-sleepin...

Pediatricians giving parenting advice?

You visit your pediatrician for medical help and wellness checks. What do you do when your parenting choices — such as co-sleeping, using cloth diapers and extended breastfeeding — are questioned? These moms share why they either lie to their child's doctor, or worked to find a practice with a better fit.

Woman and baby at an appointment with pediatrician | Sheknows.com

Do you delay vaccinations? Breastfeed in bed? Bed share? Practice baby-led weaning? If your child doesn’t have a pediatrician that jives with you, you may find yourself in a situation where lying, or omitting the truth, may be easier than succumbing to a lecture. These moms share why they avoid the truth with their child’s pediatrician, or why they don’t have to.

Skirting the truth

Physicians can be authority figures. They have years of education and experience that allows them to make recommendations for a healthy lifestyle. They are also in the position to lecture someone who doesn’t comply. Think of the cigarette smoker who has chronic bronchitis, for example, who might be told that he needs to quit smoking every time he goes in. However, the decisions that parents make for their babies and children aren’t always that cut and dried.

Bed sharing, a type of co-sleeping where a parent and a baby sleep on the same surface, is a good example of a parenting practice that doctors often frown upon. Despite the fact that a proper co-sleeping environment is safe for both a mother and her baby, on-the-back crib sleeping remains the top recommendation. “They asked me if Jade had her own place to sleep, and I said yes, even though I bed shared,” said Kelly, mom of three. “Because she did have her own place to sleep, she just wouldn't use it! I didn't lie, I just didn't want to hear a lecture about the risks of bed sharing.”

Also, some pediatricians believe that babies need to start with puréed baby foods, but the baby-led weaning movement is gaining traction. “Despite my pediatrician being pretty laid-back, she was insisting I give Lila puréed foods, and that I favor that over breastfeeding,” explained Claire, who lives in France. “Needless to say, after the glare I got during the next visit when I answered her question about how the purées were going (zero!), I lied during subsequent visits and told her that Lila adores them.”

Forging ahead with honesty

Other moms have had different experiences. “I just nodded along with whatever our pediatrician said when Bella was little,” said Brittney, mom of two. “This time we have a family doctor that's much more laid back and not pushy about things like puréed baby food and co-sleeping. I have a doctor to go to for medical advice, not parenting advice. Our current doctor understands that, and I think that's the way it should be.”

And Shelly, mother of two, had a different take on the doctor-parent relationship. “I don’t lie,” she shared. “Even when they don't agree with my parenting methods. I'm a responsible adult, I'm their parent, how I raise them is on me and me alone and I expect to be respected.”

Being a parent is hard work, for sure, but it can also be difficult to share the decisions you make with others who don’t agree with you. Take a page from Shelly’s book — this is your child and you are ultimately responsible for their health and welfare. Physicians can offer guidelines, but remember that you’re the parent and you have your child’s best interests at heart.

More on children’s health

Does your pediatrician invade your privacy?
How to survive Baby's first illness
The benefits of a pediatric hospital

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