Is Activity Important for Kids and Teens?

Andrew J. Siegel, M.D.

Children are back in school, and teachers want to provide the best education possible for their students. In recent years, surveys have shown a trend in reducing recess to accommodate additional time for academic subjects. However, play is important in developing fundamental skills and improving development.

Why is recess important?

Recess is a necessary break from academic subjects. Playing teaches fundamental skills, such as collaboration, creativity and problem solving. It teaches children the importance of physical health as well. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children participate in 60 minutes of “moderate to vigorous activity per day,” and suggested that recess be part of that. Also, parents should encourage extracurricular activity. It helps kids to become a more-rounded person and prepares them for adulthood.

What are the benefits of recess and after school activity?

In early learning, play and learning are inextricably linked. It combines playful discovery with the development of social–emotional skills. When playing with toys, toddlers learn by looking and listening to those around them. Moreover, with older and younger kids, playing improves readiness. Students are more attentive and better able to perform cognitively. Bored children do not learn as well.

Other benefits:

  • Improves social skills
  • Improves communication skills, including negotiation, cooperation, sharing, and problem solving as well as coping skills, such as perseverance and self-control
  • Teaches children how to manage and eliminate stress
  • Improves motor skills, coordination, balance and flexibility.
  • Reduces sedentary behavior
  • Decreases fatigue and depression
  • Keeps weight under control
  • Improves the ability to fall asleep quickly and sleep well
  • Improves self-image/self-esteem
  • Improves essential life skills, such as teamwork, time management, leadership, goal setting and problem solving
  • Increases enthusiasm and optimism

If your child is a high school student, extracurricular activity can help build their resume and improve their application for colleges.

How can parents encourage play and activity in toddlers and teenagers?

Play is an opportunity for parents to engage with their children by observing and understanding nonverbal behavior and sharing their joy. One study documented that positive parenting activities, such as playing and shared reading, result in decreases in parental experiences of stress and enhancement in the parent–child relationship. Parents who facilitate a child’s play without being intrusive can encourage the child’s independent exploration and learning. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends:

  • Read to your child.
  • Take trips to the park, beach, and other places.
  • Encourage play with other children.
  • Let your child help with chores
  • Limit your child’s TV access. This means TV no more than 1 to 2 hours per day.

In older children, parents should offer a wide range of experiences and let them decide what peaks their interest. However, it is recommended to start early to find your child’s interest.

Click here to learn more about the importance of play.

Click here to watch Dr. Siegel on FOX 8.

Dr. Andrew J Siegel is an Internal Medicine Specialist in New Orleans, Louisiana. Andrew was born and raised in California and spent his undergrad years at the University of California. He graduated with honors from Tulane University School Of Medicine in 2016. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his wife and child, being outdoors, cooking, or eating at one of the city’s many tasty restaurants.

Back to School Tips for Parents

Kimberly Bertucci, DNP, FNP

It’s time for the kids to head back to school! And that means a focus on classes, sports and other after-school activities. Most children need help transitioning back into a routine for a successful start to the school year. Here are a few back-to-school tips to help your kid get into a healthy school routine.

1. Developing a Back-to-School Sleep Routine

Going back to school means an end to staying up late. To get your kids ready to wake up earlier for school, you should:

  • Make their bedtimes a little early each night for a week or two weeks before school
  • Put electronic devices away because it can disrupt their sleep
  • Keep their room dark, quiet and at the right temperature

2. Getting your child back in the habit of eating three regular meals a day

Studies show that children who eat a nutritious breakfast function better. They do better in school, and have better concentration and more energy.

  • If your child’s school provides breakfast, make sure they get to school early to eat breakfast or provide breakfast at home
  • If you are packing your child’s lunch, stock up on healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, whole-grains and lean protein.
  • If the school lunch is your go-to, find out about lunch options and meal schedules ahead of time.
  • Inform the school if your child has any food allergies.

3. Managing Stress from School

Back-to-school season is stressful for kids and parents alike, but too much stress can lead to a variety of health issues.

  • Talking to your children about anything that’s bothering them
  • Do not overload their schedules at home
  • Give them time to relax and wind down after school
  • Play and spend time as a family to minimize stress

4. Developing Good Study Habits

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends:

  • Create a quiet, consistent environment conductive for doing homework
  • Schedule a regular time for homework
  • Establish a rule that the tv and other electronic devices are off during homework
  • Be available to answer questions or offer assistance to your child.
  • Schedule breaks during homework time. It may be helpful to close the book and get up and stretch.
  • If your child is struggling in a subject, meet with the teacher or counselor to determine a solution.

Click here to watch Kimberly Bertucci, DNP on FOX8 discussing back to school health tips.

Click here for tips on talking to your child about bullying.

Kimberly Bertucci, DNP, FNP is a Nurse Practicioner for Crescent City Physicians, Inc. She specializes in family medicine.

10 Summer Camp Survival Tips

Aarti Pais, MD

The days are getting longer and hotter, which means summer is on the horizon. If you are thinking about sending your kid to a sleepaway camp, there are plenty of tips to prepare them. Preparation is key in easing you and your child’s sleepaway jitters.

1. Tour the camp and attend the open house with your child. Your child will feel more comfortable and get a sense of what to expect at summer camp. You will also have a chance to learn the facility so you will know what to pack for your child’s safety.

2. Practice cohabitating. If your child is not used to sharing or rooming with another child, start having mini sleepovers to get them prepared.

3. Practice cleanliness. Teach them how to wash and fold clothes. Also, how to keep their toiletries clean and tidy.

4. Practice water safety. When on or near water, teach your child that he or she should wear a life jacket. Also, establish rules of not diving in unfamiliar water and only swimming with a lifeguard present.

5. Pack together. This will allow your child to have ownership over their experience. Also, they can pack objects that hold sentimental value to them, which can help reduce their chance of getting homesick.

6. Make a homesick plan. Let them know it is okay to get homesick. Teach them ways of dealing with stress, such as deep breathing. If they remain homesick for days, let them know it is okay to call home.

7. Children need sun protection and need to stay hydrated. They should wear hats and sunscreen when in the sun and drink lots of water throughout the day.

8. Make sure you have your kids’ contact information and schedule.

9. If you have worries, work to resolve them. If you are anxious that your child is not going to know anyone, set up a pre-camp get-together. If you are worried that your child will get sick or hurt, talk to the camp nurse. If you are nervous about their food allergies, talk to the camp’s chef.

10. Have your kid write down their goals. Camp is a great learning experience. Your child will gain confidence and improve their self-esteem by making new friends and accomplishing new goals. They will also become more independent by caring for themselves.

Click here for tips on staying safe this summer.

Click here to learn more about keeping your teenager active this summer.

Dr. Aarti Pais is a Family Medicine Physician at Crescent City Physicians, Inc., a subsidiary of Touro Infirmary. She completed her internship at Tulane University and her residency at East Jefferson General Hospital. Dr. Pais is Board Certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and treats patients at her uptown clinic located on the campus of Touro Infirmary.

Home for Mardi Gras: ‘Heart Mom’ shares story of heartbreak and heart faith

Guest Writer – Brittany Garey Pearson

My husband and I decided to wait to start a family.

I had just started my last semester of Nurse Practitioner School in January 2017 when we found out I was pregnant. We were beyond excited.

Everything was off to a great start. There were no complications early on, and my OB/GYN, Dr. Rebecca Perret, did not identify any health concerns for my baby or myself.

Five days after graduation, my husband Jeremy and I went in for the baby’s routine 18-week anatomy scan. Even with years of nursing school and professional medical training, I was in no way prepared for what I learned that day.

At first, we were amazed. During the ultrasound, Jeremy and I were able to see our baby’s profile, fingers, toes, and the flicker of the heartbeat.

But I noticed the tech kept going back to the baby’s heart. As a nurse, I was able to identify the four, well-developed ventricles of the baby’s heart, and I could also see the heart valves working. The ultrasound tech finished up and said she was going to ask the doctor to look at the images. She said it was routine for the doctor to take a second look. I didn’t think anything of it. The maternal-fetal medicine doctor came in, introduced himself, and quickly started doing the ultrasound.

There was a long silence until he finally sighed and said, “I cannot find the baby’s pulmonary artery.”

I was in total shock. As a nurse, I understood the pulmonary artery is a necessary part of the heart, which is needed for a person to be able to live.

The next day we met with a Pediatric Cardiologist who performed a fetal echocardiogram. Our baby was then diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF) with Pulmonary Atresia and MAPCAS. This is the rarest and most complex form of TOF.

I felt heartbroken.

And I felt completely blindsided because I had no idea the 18-week ultrasound also screened for Congenital Heart Defects (CHD).

On September 29, 2017, my husband and I welcomed our baby GIRL, Theresa Catherine “Tessa”, into the world. She was absolutely beautiful! After a 10-day stay in the NICU, we were able to bring our baby home.

As much as I adored her, I still feared the obstacles she would face in the future, and the battle she will fight for the rest of her life.

image1 (1)

“This is my FAVORITE post-op pic!!! The first time she gave me a smile!”

On January 19, she had a complete repair of her heart, and after three weeks in the hospital, we returned home with our baby on Mardi Gras Day!Tessa will continue to need regular echocardiograms, yearly cardiac catheterization procedures, and more open-heart surgeries as she grows. The normal parenting routine of feedings and diaper changes now also include echocardiograms, cardiac catheterizations, and open-heart surgeries.

Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford

Brittany, Jeremy, and Tessa outside Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford in Palo Alto, California following Tessa’s open heart surgery.

I was talking to my grandfather after Tessa’s surgery, and I expressed to him how upset I was that she will need more open heart surgeries. My grandfather, a former high school physical education teacher and football coach, had a quick response.

He said, “Brittany! If I was picking football players for my junior varsity and varsity teams, I don’t want Tessa on my Junior Varsity team. I want her on my Varsity team because she is tough!” And that she is!


CHDs are the number 1 birth defect in the US and affect nearly 40,000 babies each year.

For all pregnant women out there, and to those hoping to become pregnant, know that there is an army of “Heart Mamas” determined to bring awareness to this field and to advance the research, care, and prevention of Congenital Heart Defects.

The Louisiana Pediatric Cardiology Foundation has been a huge help to me and my family throughout this process. The American Heart Association, Pediatric Congenital Heart Association are great resources, too.

Even after all Tessa has been through in her first five months on Earth, she continues to smile, and that gives my heart hope.


Tips for Dealing with Picky Eaters

Tara Rosenkranz

As parents, we face a myriad of struggles trying to raise healthy human beings. When they are babies, we rely on books and blogs and advice to determine what kinds of foods we’ll feed our children. We know how much tummy time they should have and what kinds of safety gear they need. We know to wash our hands and theirs often. Keeping them healthy by following the book is usually pretty straightforward. While we have choices, they are ours to make as parents. We choose from packaged foods or homemade purees or baby-led weaning. But what happens when the kids get old enough to start making their own choices? What do we do when they reject our perfectly formed ideas of how their diet should look?

Preferences and Allergies

I have four children with four very different ideas of what a healthy meal should look like. My two-year old loves pretty much anything she can eat with her fingers (even if it’s not a finger food). She doesn’t like many nuts because they take too long to chew. She’s allergic to dairy, so that’s her only true restriction. My four-year old is the picture-perfect eater. She eats salad and vegetables, fruit, yogurt and will literally eat anything, happily. My eight-year old is the middle-of-the-road eater. He rejects meat and potatoes and prefers foods in his odd little rotation. One day he will love a food and the next be undecided. He loves fruit and cheese and bread and will taste almost anything. My ten-year old is the pickiest. He doesn’t eat meat with the exception of perfectly cooked bacon. He loves fruit and will eat loads of it, but eats almost no raw vegetables. He also has a host of food allergies. My husband is Pescaearian which means he eats fish but no land animals or dairy. I eat pretty much anything but have a shellfish allergy.

Creative Meal Planning

How do you feed a household with such different food preferences? I have to be creative when I feed my family. I work full time and don’t have it in me to prepare 6 different meals for dinner so I have had to find ways to not only get healthy food on the table, but not lose my mind in the process.

Here are my tried and true tips for dealing with picky eaters:

  1. Make a list of the foods your family will eat. Try not to focus on their aversions. One by one, list each family member and their favorite foods. List the foods they may not love, but that you know they will eat under the right circumstances. Get them involved. What foods overlap? Does everyone in your family eat pasta? Does everyone eat eggs? These foods will likely be at the center of your meal planning rotation.
  2. Carve up your list and categorize the items into food groups. We use three food groups plus a “lagniappe” category. All of our foods get placed into Grains, Proteins and Fruits/Vegetables. Any food that doesn’t belong into those groups goes into lagniappe. You could even use Google Image to search for photos of each of the foods and have them help you sort them. The more involved they are, the more likely they are to eat them!
  3. Plan your meals according to your chart. What can you make that has foods from each of the main categories from step #2? If you need to put some items on the side (like tomato sauce or onions) to get your kid to eat the rest of the meal, try it! There will be things on the table that someone or another doesn’t eat, but as long as everyone is getting something from each food group, the meal should work. This will take some getting used to (adjusting recipes) but we’ve found that it’s better to make adjusted meals than several different ones.
  4. Use rewards. We love desert in my house. This could be a scoop of ice cream or a frozen fruit Popsicle or an Oreo cookie or two. They know if they eat dinner, they get desert and it’s a real treat. This also means that desert foods are limited throughout the day so that they remain a treat, but it’s worth it.
  5. Try a Pick Three “Menu.” There are many days when I can’t get myself together enough to put a prepared meal on the table or there just isn’t enough time before Cub Scouts to sit down. For these meals, my kids go to the chart (which lives on the fridge) and choose an item from each category and sometimes a lagniappe item, too. Yes, I understand that this could mean they might eat dry Cheerios, yogurt, baby carrots with ranch and an Oreo for dinner, but let’s break that down. Their choice consisted of: whole grains, dairy/fruit, vegetable and desert in moderation. I’m calling that a win.
  6. Give them Choices. Kids spend so much time being told what to do and how to do it that they often exert their need for control in their diet. Let them help pack their own school lunch (use the chart!). When presented with several choices routinely, they will adapt and find peace with their meal. Take them grocery shopping and let them choose some of the foods they will eat that week. Keep them invested in the process.
  7. Let go of the perfect meal idea. When you give the control to your child, it takes it from you. While your table may not look like you imagined, giving limited control to your kid is teaching them to make healthy choices and will relieve some of your stress, too!

Click here for kid friendly recipes.

Tara Rosenkranz is a mother of four unique children and is contributor for New Orleans Moms Blog. Tara works full time at a corporate job and spends her evenings and weekends soaking up all that New Orleans has to offer. She and her husband are out-of-the-box thinkers and enjoy spending time playing music, reading and exploring the city with her family.

The Gift of Toy Safety

Barbara LeBlanc, LCSW-BACS

Tis the season for holiday parties, ugly sweaters and lots of shopping – especially for your kids. There are so many toy options to choose from that it can be overwhelming. Part of the challenge is finding a toy that your child will enjoy but that is also safe. The biggest threat to the health of children older than 1 year is not disease, but accidental injury. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), each year thousands of children suffer injuries from toys that are severe enough to be treated in a hospital emergency room.

Guidelines for Buying Safe Toys

To make sure a toy is appropriate for your young child, check the label. In general, most toys on the market today are safe. But despite tough government regulations and toy makers’ efforts to test products, injuries still happen. The first step in preventing toy-related injuries is to know what to look for.

Toy makers follow the guidelines established by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in determining the age grading of a toy. The CPSC now requires labeling on toys designed for children between the ages of 3 and 6 that can pose a choking hazard for children under age 3. The labels must specifically state that the toy is unsafe for children under 3 and the reason for the warning. According to CPSC, among toy-related deaths, the leading cause was choking on small balls or toy parts.

Avoiding Choking Hazards

  • Avoid letting your toddler (ages 3 and under) play with small toys and parts. Children in this age group still “mouth” objects which can lead to accidental ingestion or choking. A small parts tester can help determine if an object is a choking risk.
  • Make sure that the toy is sturdy and that no small parts (such as eyes, noses, buttons, wheels, or other parts) can break off the toy.
  • Choose well-made stuffed animals.
  • Choose toys made of durable materials with no sharp edges or points.
  • Avoid toys that shoot or have parts that fly off.
  • Batteries and magnets, especially small ones, can be particularly dangerous.
  • Do not allow young children to play with latex balloons.
  • Don’t buy hobby kits or chemistry sets for children under 12.

More Advice

  • Check under your furniture and between seat cushions for choking risks. These include coins, marbles, watch batteries, magnets, buttons, or pen and marker caps.

The best way to protect your young child from injury is to supervise him or her when playing with toys and to provide safe, hazard-free environments for both inside and outside play. Go to Consumer Product Safety Commission for more toy safety tips and toy recalls.

Barbara B. LeBlanc, LCSW-BACS is the Director of The Parenting Center at Children’s Hospital and grandmother to two beautiful granddaughters and eagerly awaiting one baby boy.

How to Wear Your Seat Belt While Pregnant

Cheryl Tschirn, RN, BSN

Although traveling during pregnancy is normal and a lot of women do it, it is important for pregnant women to practice safe driving while pregnant. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 32,800 pregnant women are involved in motor vehicle crashes every year.

Should you buckle up? 

Yes, you should buckle up. Doctors recommend wearing a seatbelt at every stage of your pregnancy. This is the most effective way to protect you and your baby in a car accident.

What is the right way to buckle up?

  • Only travel in vehicles with three-point restraints.
  • Your shoulder belt should be away from you neck but on your shoulder.
  • The shoulder belt should be placed between your breasts and to the side of your belly.
  • Your shoulder belt should never be placed behind your back or under your arm.
  • The lap belt should be placed below your belly. The belt should fit snug across your hips and pelvic bone.
  • Also, your lap belt should not be placed on your stomach.
  • Avoid wearing bulky clothes so the belt can be close to your body.

How should I adjust my seat?

  • Make sure you are comfortably positioned upright.
  • You should also be positioned comfortably away from the steering wheel and pedals.
  • Keep as much distance from the steering wheel and your belly by moving your seat back and slightly tilting it away. Also, tilt your steering wheel towards your breastbone and not your belly. Your breastbone should be at least 10 inches away from the steering wheel.
  • Try not to recline excessively in order minimize the gap between your shoulder and seat belt.

Are air bags safe?

  • You should leave your air bags on in your vehicle. Air bags and seat belts work together to provide the highest protection for you and your baby.
  • The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states the benefits of an air bag outweighs the risks to a pregnant woman and her baby.
  • Side air bags do not pose a risk either.

What should I do if I am in an accident?

  • Contact your doctor immediately, even if you are in a minor accident or the passenger.
  • Your physician will most likely check your baby’s heartbeat.
  • According to the CDC, pregnant women in crashes without documented injuries are at greater risk of preterm labor.

What are some additional safety tips?

  • If possible, don’t drive and be a passenger by sitting in the back seat. In the last few months of pregnancy, your uterus becomes closer to the steering wheel and can be crushed during an accident.
  • Cut down on any distractions, such as talking on the phone, eating or texting.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings and road conditions.
  • Leave sufficient room behind cars to give yourself reaction time.
  • If you are feeling lethargic, nauseated, or dizzy, do not drive your car.
  • If roadways are wet, reduce your speed.
  • If you are driving for a prolonged time, take frequent “bathroom” breaks.
  • Also, choose a modern car as your vehicle. Modern cars are generally safer than older models.

Cheryl A. Tschirn, RN, BSN is the OB Navigator for the Family Birthing Center at Touro Infirmary. Since the age of five, Cheryl knew she wanted a career in nursing. She graduated with a BSN from LSU’s School of Nursing in 1981. Cheryl began working in cardiology and pre and post surgical care. She found her calling in 1985 when she began working in Ambulatory OB/GYN nursing. For 28 years, Cheryl has worked in the field as a staff nurse, manager and director. She has served in her current role as Community Educators since 2013 and states that her job is “an absolute joy”. Cheryl enjoys working closely with families and helping preparing them to welcome a growing family.

Backpack Safety Tips

Andrew J. Siegel, M.D.

Most children rely on backpacks to carry books and supplies. But a backpack that’s too heavy or doesn’t fit right can cause harm. Carrying too much weight in a backpack or wearing it the wrong way can lead to back and shoulder pain, weakened muscles, tingling arms and stooped posture. Children may arch their back, bend forward, twist, or lean to one side, which can change their spine’s alignment or worse nerve damage.

Choosing the Right Backpack

It is recommended that a loaded backpack should never weigh more than 15% of the student’s total body weight (i.e. for 100 lb student, this means that it should not weigh more than 15 lbs.)  The height of the backpack should extend from approximately 2 inches below the shoulder blades to waist level or slightly above the waist.

Pick a backpack for your child with the following traits:

  • 2 wide, padded shoulder straps (not just 1 strap)
  • A padded back to protect against sharp objects inside the bag
  • A waist strap to help keep the bag stable

How to properly load a backpack

Students should carry only items they need for the day, and stop at their locker throughout the day to drop off heavier books. Also, many injuries are avoidable, if they load their backpack properly. Experts recommend:

  • Load heaviest items closest to the student’s back (back of pack).
  • Arrange books and materials so they will not slide around in pack.
  • Consider using a book bag on wheels if the school allows it.

How to Wear a Backpack Safely

It is important to talk to your child about how to safely use a backpack. Here are a few tips:

  • Distribute weight evenly by using both straps. Wearing a pack over one side/shoulder can cause a student to lean to one side, curving the spine and causing pain or discomfort.
  • Tighten and loosen the straps as needed. Adjust the shoulder straps so that the pack fits snugly on the student’s back. It’s also recommended to loosen the straps before removing the pack. This makes it easier to take off.
  • Place the backpack evenly in the middle of the back.The backpack should sit about 2 inches above the waist. This will help prevent awkward postures.
  • Only carry what’s needed.Make sure your children know not to carry a whole day’s worth of books and supplies at once. Tell them to make trips to their locker during the day.
  • Use care when putting on and taking off the backpack.Children should avoid twisting too much. When picking up a heavy backpack, bend with both knees—not at the waist. Wear the waist belt if they have one.

If your child has pain from their backpack, talk with the school about ways to lighten the load. Make sure the school allows trips to lockers as needed. If the pain continues, talk with your child’s healthcare provider.

Dr. Andrew J Siegel is an Internal Medicine Specialist in New Orleans, Louisiana. Andrew was born and raised in California and spent his undergrad years at the University of California. He graduated with honors from Tulane University School Of Medicine in 2016. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his wife and child, being outdoors, cooking, or eating at one of the city’s many tasty restaurants.

Swaddling and SIDS

Louis Paul du Treil, M.D.

What New Parents Should Know?

You may have heard the recent report that said swaddling babies may be linked with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). If you have a little one on the way, these headlines may have alarmed you. After all, experts often tout swaddling as a way to help your baby sleep more soundly. So what’s a new parent to think?

What the Study Says?

Swaddling is defined in various ways, but it typically refers to wrapping a child snugly in a blanket or cloth, with head exposed but arms inside. Swaddling is thought to have a calming influence on babies that helps them sleep. However, with recent headlines, it’s important to better understand the findings of swaddling and SIDS in the journal of Pediatrics.

Researchers found that swaddling was associated with an increased risk for SIDS, but the risk went up when two factors were considered.

  • Sleeping position. The risk for SIDS was highest among infants sleeping on their stomach and side and lowest among those sleeping on their back. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends to always place babies to sleep on their back, whether they’re swaddled or not.
  • Baby’s age. The risk for SIDS among swaddled infants increased as they got older. That’s likely due to the fact that older babies are able to roll from their back to their stomach. A good rule of thumb is to stop swaddling as soon as your baby shows that he or she is trying to roll over, about four months.

What Else You Can Do?

Helping your child sleep well and making sure he or she is safe are your top priorities. These tips can help you and your little one catch some precious Zs while putting some of your worries to rest:

  • Always put your child to sleep on his or her back until 1 year of age, even if it’s a short nap. This sleep position is safest for newborns.
  • Make sure your baby’s crib meets all safety standards and has a firm sleep surface.
  • Keep your baby’s crib free of loose items — blankets, bumpers, toys, pillows, stuffed animals, sheets and more.
  • Offer your baby a pacifier at naps and bedtime, after breastfeeding is well established.
  • Make your home a smoke-free environment. Children exposed to cigarette smoke are more likely to die from SIDS.
  • Don’t sleep with your baby in your bed.
  • Prevent overheating — check that the room where your baby sleeps is a comfortable temperature.
  • Avoid sharing a bed with your baby. If possible, place your child’s crib in the same room, so you can more easily tend to his or her needs.

You have many questions as a new or expecting parent, and Touro can help you prepare. Touro’s Family Birthing Center provides free classes including a childbirth education series, lactation, joyful parenting, sibling classes, happiest baby on the block, healthy mom and healthy baby, and more. Click here for a complete list of upcoming classes.

Louis Paul du Treil, M.D. is Director of Maternal and Child Health at Touro Infirmary and a practicing OB/GYN with Crescent City Physicians, Inc. He earned his B.S. from Loyola University and attended the Louisiana State University School of Medicine. Dr. du Treil completed his OB/GYN internship and residency at the University of Florida Health Science Center in Jacksonville, Florida. He is Board Certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and cares for patients at his clinic Uptown on the campus of Touro Infirmary.

Mom’s Guide for a Stress-Free Holiday Season

Kay Morrison from the Occasional Wife

The holidays are meant to be fun, but often end up being overwhelming. Believe it or not, the holidays can be stress-free! Here are some tips to help you cruise into the Holiday season…

Be like Santa…MAKE LISTS

Make a list for groceries, people to shop for, cards to write, decorations to buy, etc. Sit down with a calendar and give yourself target dates for getting things done. You can even find holiday planning guides online. Be sure to put all your parties, kids’ plays, and other special occasions on your calendar as soon as you find out about them!



Wrap gifts as you buy them (be sure you mark the outside so you remember who the gift is for!), respond to invitations as soon as you receive them, if a family member mentions something specific they want as a gift, buy it right away.  Don’t put everything off until the last minute; you’ll save yourself from so much stress this way.


Know you’ve got a bunch of parties coming up?  Hit the stores and stock up on hostess gifts. (We love gift sets—you can get two or three hostess gifts out of one set!)  Also, stock up on some small gifts for those surprise visitors and some fun activities for any children that may visit during the season.

Before holiday gatherings, make room in your coat closet for your guests’ belongings (remember to put a few extra hangers in there). Also, clear out the refrigerator so you have room when your guests arrive with beer, Champagne, and foods that should be chilled.



They can help decorate — everything from rooms to cookies. So even if they’re in the way, they’re helping you get the job done!


If you don’t have a “wrapping station”, make one.  What this means is that you have one space in your home for your wrapping paper, ribbons, bows, gift tags, tape, scissors, and you can get to it easily when you’re ready to wrap each gift.  Plastic under-the-bed storage bins are perfect for this—they’re long enough to hold wrapping paper and have enough space for your other supplies too.


What is most important?  Sending 150 cards to everyone you know or being sure your nearest and dearests get cards?  Making “Pinterest perfect” treats for everyone in your child’s classes or enjoying an evening with the family watching holiday movies?  Take a look at the tasks you have ahead and see which one you can eliminate or make simpler.


Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help!  The Occasional Wife can decorate shop, wrap gifts, address cards, organize your home before guests arrive, and many other tasks that will keep your holiday stress to a minimum!  Santa’s got elves to help him out but you’ve got The Occasional Wife!

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Ladies Night Out: Tips for a Healthy, Stress Free Holiday Season

No sweets for me for holidays

The holidays are supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year but for some it can be stressful. Join Touro Nutritionist Julie Fortenberry and Kay Morrison, the owner of the Occasional Wife, for tips on how to manage stress and enjoy yourself this holiday season. Also, learn how to avoid that dreadful holiday weight gain and how to remain healthy.

The Occasional Wife
Thursday, December 8, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.
3036 S. Carrollton Ave., New Orleans, LA 70118
Click here to register or call (504) 897-8500.

tf_kay-d16b71c1As a senior executive for one of the world’s top hotel conglomerates, Kay Morrison spent the first 21 years of her career literally up in the air as she flew from property to property. An accomplished professional, Morrison faced the same challenges that all career oriented people do: how to successfully balance work, life, family, and friends and maintain sanity. Thus, The Occasional Wife was born…