Pediatricians have a lot to say to parents of babies and toddlers but only 15 or 20 minutes to say it in. As a way out of this dilemma, First 5 of Santa Barbara County and the United Way teamed up to create a system for communicating some key points doctors need to share with families about their kids’ health. The system is called My Healthy Child. It consists of a Web site, a colorful development wheel, and flyers on sleeping, eating, reading, and dental care, all in both English and Spanish.
My Healthy Child was unveiled Monday, February 2, at the Eastside Neighborhood Clinic, where the new materials are available in racks nailed to the wall. Amu Sharma, staff pediatrician at the Eastside clinic, sees anywhere from 20 to 40 kids a day. She hopes the materials will also help trigger questions that the parents can bring up at the next visit. “It helps them to be better parents and helps me so I can help them better,” she said.
The materials were written essentially by a group of local pediatricians, with First 5 representatives preparing drafts for the doctors to approve. The pamphlet on eating right, for example, lists five specific tips on nutrition, including the recommendation to breastfeed and to limit juice intake.
“Babies don’t need juice,” the pamphlet states. “If you do give your baby juice, wait until your baby is 6 to 8 months old and give no more than 2 ounces a day mixed with water.”
The Web site myhealthychildsb.org is up and running and provides even more specific information, plus links to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AMA), First 5, and other sites designed to support the education and health of young kids.
Pat Wheatley, First 5 Commission executive director, said she and United Way president Paul Didier asked Santa Barbara pediatricians what their greatest challenges in getting information out to families were, and the discussion ultimately led to the My Healthy Child campaign. She and Didier hope the materials will eventually be found in every pediatric office in Santa Barbara County.
For now, they are available in the pediatric offices of all the Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics sites, as well as the Sansum Clinic, the Santa Barbara County public health clinics, and the Children’s Medical Clinic.