Why You Need a Team Approach to Support Your Infant's Development
Updated: Sep 30
A second opinion.
Advocating for your child.
Trusting your parental instincts.
These are all necessary things you need to get comfortable with when raising your infant in our society right now.
As parents, we have so much more access to information about our child’s development than we used to have. You can read countless books, blogs, and groups on tips for breastfeeding, solid feeding, infant sleep, physical development, play skills and so on. Some of this information is helpful, some of it’s confusing, some of it’s relevant, and some of it’s outdated.
But the problem and the overwhelm starts to happen when we don’t have professionals on our team that can help us sift through this information, make sense of it, and help decide if it is applicable to our child’s situation or not. Add in differing values, cultural beliefs, financial status, environment, and you’ve got massive confusion waiting to happen next time you try to google what kind of bottle you should buy for baby, or whether you should sleep train or not.
Right now, our system is set up for our child to have access to a pediatrician. And that pediatrician should be the guiding force for that family. Pediatricians are there to answer a parent’s questions, listen to concerns, and advocate for that child when needed. The problem is, not all families mesh well with their child’s pediatrician. And not all pediatricians have the same approach when it comes to referring to other specialists and professionals for your child. As a pediatric physical therapist, I am hearing more and more frustration in parent’s voices when they end up getting a second opinion and hear advice that is contradictive to what their pediatrician has told them.
No one is at fault here, it’s just that our system right now is NOT set up to support a team approach from the start.
This means that you as a parent have to be the one advocating for your child.
If you’re concerned that your baby isn’t latched well to the breast – even though he’s gaining weight – YOU may need to be the one that seeks out a lactation consultant.
If you think that your baby is struggling with tummy time and needs extra support, YOU may need to be the one to reach out to a physical therapist instead of just “waiting and seeing” if it will get better on its own.
Advocating for your child is extremely difficult to do when you “don’t know what you don’t know”.
If you don’t know what resources are available to you, or you don’t know what red flags to look for in your baby’s feeding or motor skills, then this whole process can be extremely frustrating.
I recently spoke with a mom of three, who has a lot to say about her experience in finding a team of professionals for all three of her daughters. Her experiences shed a light onto the type of advice that parents may be given, and the importance of seeking a second opinion, advocating for your child, and utilizing a team approach.
“When my first daughter was born, I was able to and chose to exclusively breastfeed. It was one of the most painful experiences I have ever had. I was cracked and bleeding for weeks. I was told that it would get better and I just needed to get through it. I was told to use the nipple cream and let them “air out” as much as possible. Not once was my daughter evaluated for oral restriction (tongue, lip or buccal tie). Not once was I referred to a lactation consultant.
When my second daughter was born, I received help from a lactation consultant in the hospital and discovered that I had been nursing my daughter incorrectly, and had therefore nursed my first daughter incorrectly. They were so helpful and saved me weeks of constant pain. Why was that help not offered the first time?
When my second daughter was 9 months old, I took classes from Their Best Start with Gina and Laura. For the first time I realized that my pediatrician was not the only person to assist in the health of my children. Their classes gave me the information to understand what I was looking for in all aspects of childcare and development and the power and confidence to stand up for what was best for my children.
I am a confident person, I communicate well with others, I was a teacher for many years before I had children, and my husband works in the healthcare industry. My sister is a pediatric nurse and my mom is an early childhood specialist. I took all of the classes that the hospital offered. My husband read all of the pregnancy and newborn books. We really thought we were prepared. I honestly did not know how much information was missing until I took classes from Their Best Start.
When my 3rd baby was 2 weeks old, she started spitting up constantly. I was going through 4-6 burp cloths by mid-morning. By the evening, I was switching to hand towels. She spit up on both of her older sisters, every couch cushion had been spit up on and I was changing multiple times a day. The worst part was that she was so uncomfortable when she laid down, and she was soaking her sleep sack and pajamas at least 3 times at night. I was doing a full outfit change multiple times, every night.
After a few days of this, I sent a message to our pediatrician, describing the symptoms and asking for help. The response was that if she was gaining weight, then it wasn’t a problem. So I literally ordered 10 more burp cloths and 2 more sleep sacks and prepared for lots of laundry.
I also sent Gina a message and just mentioned what was going on, in case she happened to have any insight. She let me know that this was a common problem, but it was not normal, and that I should have a specialist evaluate our daughter as soon as possible.
We had a physical therapist check her body for tightness and do some body work. She suspected oral restriction and referred us to a speech and language pathologist & certified lactation consultant. She immediately confirmed a posterior tongue tie, lip tie, and buccal tie. Holy oral restriction!! She gave us some stretches and referred us to a pediatric dentist that was able to release the ties with a laser in just a few moments. Her symptoms improved dramatically! She was so much more relaxed and so happy. Her latch was immediately better and she licked her lips for the first time! It was unbelievable. We followed up with bodywork, oral stretches, and a pediatric chiropractor to make sure everything healed in alignment.
This outcome would not have happened if I hadn't sought out a second opinion."
"The bottom line is this: advocate for your children, and rely on a team of professionals to help your children develop into the strongest and healthiest they can be! Be proactive, the “wait and see” philosophy often requires reactive intervention, and in our case, it has been physically painful and emotionally traumatizing to do so. Don’t wait. Become empowered with the information you need to help your children thrive!"
- Kristen, wife, educator, mother of 3
That's only part of Kristen’s story. To read more about her daughter’s crawling, walking, and dental journey, check out her full story here.
Everyone’s experience is different. You and your child may not need support from specialists, or you might benefit from the support of a whole team of professionals working together for you. Either way, educating yourself on infant development is a critical first steps so you know when you may need help. Take our infant development courses, led by specialized pediatric therapists and lactation consultants, to get the support you and your family deserve.
Gina Mydlo, PT, DPT