Health Expert Q&A with Katie Powell, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Health Expert Q&A with Katie Powell, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

Picky eaters, child attention spans, newborn feeding and more

Q: My son is in the first grade and his teacher complains that he is
 not attentive during the day. How can I encourage him to pay attention? He loves school, so I don’t want to discourage him in any way, but I am feeling pressured by his teacher.

A: This is a great question, and fortunately, there are many things we can do to
Health Expert Q&A with Katie Powell, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Courtesy Katie Powell
 continue to foster his love of school while also helping him pay attention. First, I recommend making sure he is getting enough sleep (6 and 7-year- olds need 9–12 hours of sleep at night) and eating a well-rounded breakfast. Next, I would ask your son if there’s anything that distracts him at school — perhaps he is near a window, or there’s a strange noise near his desk. Ask the teacher for specifics; is he distracted by the school pet or sitting by his best friend? Try to modify the environment by asking that he sit in the front of the class, away from windows and distractions. If the issue continues, talk to your pediatric provider. We may recommend a simple screening tool for ADHD. We can also provide a list of educational resources in the community that can help your son thrive in school.

Q: My newborn is hardly eating. I have tried breastfeeding, but she is having trouble latching on and always drifts off to sleep. I don’t want to give her a bottle, but I’m scared she’s not getting enough nutrients. What should I do?

A: If you are worried that your newborn isn’t eating enough, please make an appointment with your pediatric provider right away. We will check her weight and length and help you make an informed decision about the best feeding plan for your newborn. We may recommend lactation support or provide a recipe for increased calories in expressed breast milk. We are here to help you with every step of newborn care.

Q: I’ve been hearing so much about gluten and lactose intolerance. My children seem healthy, but my friend is appalled that we still eat bread and drink milk. Am I jeopardizing my children’s health?

A: The two most important things to consider when thinking about your child’s diet are how they are feeling, and how they are growing. It sounds like your child seems healthy, which is fantastic! That means their body is able to digest and absorb the food that you are providing. If your child has chronic abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, bloating, or growth failure, please talk to your pediatric provider. Both celiac disease (or gluten-sensitive enteropathy) and lactose intolerance are uncommon, but we can help diagnose, manage and treat any food sensitivities or intolerances affecting your child.

Q: My daughter has always been a picky eater. We have worked hard to make sure she has healthy foods in her diet. Now that she is older and spending time outside our home, she is insistent on eating sugary snacks and fast food. What can we do about this, if anything?

A: With older children, I strongly recommend setting aside time to discuss the issue and come up with an agreement together. This applies to fast food and sugary snacks, but also to screen time and household chores. Parents, I recommend you suggest an acceptable amount of sugary food or fast food (perhaps fast food once per week and sugary snacks only if all healthy meals are eaten) and explain your reasoning. Ask your child for their goals as well. Come up with a solution together, and check in periodically to make sure everyone is sticking to the plan. Your pediatric provider will also check body measurements (height, weight, body mass index) and talk about healthy nutrition at each Well Child Checkup.

—Katie Powell, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner at Summit Health Pediatrics

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