You don't have to be a scientist to use evidence-based parenting
As moms, we face many challenges while raising our children. What most of us struggle with is knowing what's best for our child, because parenting options are rarely ever black and white. Now, it may be the doctor in me, but I like proof that what I'm doing has worked in the past. Find out where to go for the most trustworthy information and help with common questions you might have about parenting.
The best place to turn when your child is sick is always your health care provider. However, if it is after hours and you are unsure if your child needs to be seen now, many provinces and territories have a telemedicine line you can call to speak with a nurse. Here in Ontario, it is called Telehealth, and the number is 1-866-797-0000. If you think it is an emergency, always call 911 or go to your local emergency department. If you are simply looking for general information on illnesses such as the common cold, measles, influenza and even Lyme disease, Caring for Kids is a fantastic place to look (and is supported by the Canadian Paediatric Society). It offers a lot of general information, prevention, treatment and when to see a physician. The Health Canada website is another place to check out for general information, prevention techniques and updates on cases/spread within your area.
Without stirring up too much controversy, I would like to point out right off the bat that, as a physician, I am very strongly pro-vaccine. The evidence is clear that they are beneficial to global health, and without them the world would look a whole lot different, and many of us would not even be here. For reliable information on vaccine safety, testing and schedules, the best "one-stop shop" is the Public Health Agency of Canada. When doing your own research on the safety of vaccines, please remember that just because a study or paper is referenced doesn't mean the information is correct. There are a lot of variables in determining what is a reliable study and what is not. The trouble with many other sites is that if you are not trained in how to critically evaluate a research study and paper (as most parents are not), then you don't know if the information given is accurate. If you ever have any questions regarding something you read on the internet or heard from a friend with regards to a vaccine, then speak with your physician, as most of us would be more than happy to discuss the information and clarify any questions you might have.
Wondering what types of new things your 6-month-old infant should be doing? There are a couple of different sets of guidelines physicians follow to screen the children who pass through their office. The most common guidelines used are the Rourke and Nipissing guidelines. The Rourke website offers a lot of great information not just on milestones but also on feeding, safety, illnesses and growth and development. You can also find suggestions on what activities and games you should be focusing on with your child at various ages. Once again, if you have any concerns, make sure you speak with your health care provider.
So I have to admit, my 2-year-old daughter is still a terrible sleeper. Chances are, if you have a bad sleeper, then you've tried everything, just like me. There is tons of information out there on sleep — from the Ferber (cry-it-out) method to various no-tears methods. All of it is pseudo-scientific in that it was studied and found to work in a certain percentage of babies. However, every baby and every parent is unique, so the method that worked for your friend and their baby might not work for you. This means, unfortunately, that there is no one evidence-based method or site that is for everyone. There is, however, a lot of great evidence-based advice on sleep safety found here at the Caring the Kids website, as well as general sleep advice and healthy sleep habits.
If you're looking for more specific information on bedwetting or bed sharing, the Canadian Paediatric Society is also the best place to turn for help.
Childhood behaviour and discipline
You can find an excellent article here from the Canadian Paediatric Society for moms and health care professionals alike. It discusses the goals of discipline as well as general recommendations for discipline sorted by age. If you have concerns about your child's behaviour, then speak with your physician about suggestions. The sooner you speak with them, the better, so that the behaviour can be corrected and diagnoses such as ADHD or ODD can be ruled out.
Keep in mind that this list is not all inclusive. The important thing is to check the credentials of the source you are using by speaking with an expert on the subject or by using a site endorsed by the Canadian Paediatric Society. Parenting is hard enough — feel confident in the choices you make.