Is there anything wrong with this child? This is the question that runs through my head several times per day. And it’s one of the most important questions any good pediatrician or family doctor should ask.
Like most doctors, I see children when there is a concern that something may be awry. Be it the appearance of a baby’s stool or the way they cry, parents are designed to assume the worst. This is probably good. Fear, after all, keeps babies safe (usually).
So sometimes they need to know that there’s nothing to do.
I see it all the time: Freshly minted pediatricians often assume that when parents appear, they want to leave with something. Antibiotics and a laboratory requisition. Nobody leaves without a prize.
In my world the classic example is uncomplicated infant reflux presenting with frequent spitting (the happy spitter). While the parents on the surface appear may appear in need of a fix, my reassuring diatribe on the natural course of uncomplicated reflux almost universally ends up with in relief. Despite their initial posturing, I’m impressed with the number of parents who prefer to avoid medications.
When there’s nothing to fix it’s improperly assumed that there’s nothing to do. Some of our hardest work involves helping families understand what doesn’t need to be done.