Kids’ Health

Caring for a Newborn


The first year of life is an amazing time for a baby and for his parents. In 12 short months, a baby develops from a helpless newborn to an inquisitive toddler. Yet many new parents feel overwhelmed during this time, unsure of everything from how much sleep a baby needs to how often he should be fed. But it doesn’t have to be a stressful experience.

Karin Wertz, M.D., a Mills-Peninsula pediatrician based in San Mateo, fields dozens of questions from parents regularly. Here are her tips on how to raise a healthy, happy baby. Read More

Speech Delay: Tips to Encourage Your Child to Talk

Speech Delay in Children

Speech delay is one the most common types of developmental delays in children. In fact, one out of five children will learn to talk or use words later than other children their age, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“Keep in mind there’s a wide range in what is considered normal speech development,” Debra Barra-Stevens, M.D., a Mills-Peninsula pediatrician, says. “Many kids are late bloomers but still end up with excellent speaking and communication skills.” Read More

Six Tips to Keep Kids Safe Online



Kids are growing up immersed in technology. While technology offers great ways to learn and stay connected, excessive and inappropriate use can cause problems, particularly for children and teens. Studies show too much media time can lead to attention problems, lower academic performance, family dysfunction, sleep and eating disorders, and obesity. Also, privacy dangers can lurk online. Read More

Mindfulness for Teens


Many teens live with “toxic stress” – a buildup of stress from social pressure, competition at school, anxiety about fitting in – that too often can lead to depression, substance abuse or even physical pain.

Mindfulness is a tool they can use.

“Mindfulness can be especially helpful for teens with anxiety,” Kimberly Erlich, CPNP, nurse practitioner and coordinator of the Adolescent Behavioral Health Project at Mills-Peninsula and the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, says.

Read More

The Digital Generation



Cell phones, tablets, laptops, smart TVs – it’s hard to imagine life without digital media. Most adults spend 11 hours a day using electronic media, including their computer at work. By 2015, some estimates predict the number will rise to 15 hours a day.

Like us, our kids are growing up immersed in technology. Is there a downside?

Read More

Help Kids Become Healthy Adults

What parents can do today to help their children age successfully

When you hold your tiny baby for the first time, it’s hard to imagine that precious new life as an adult with children or as a senior with grandchildren. But one thing is certain – from the moment your child is born you want him or her to enjoy a long, healthy life.

“Helping your child form healthy habits from the get-go is one of the best things you can do to ensure he or she can enjoy lifelong health,” says Debra Barra-Stevens, M.D., a Mills-Peninsula pediatrician. “Healthy children are much more likely to be healthy adults and seniors.”

Healthy, Active Living

“Eating right and regular exercise are top of the list when it comes to laying the best foundation for good health,” says Dr. Barra- Stevens. “Start with ‘Focus on Five,’ making sure your child eats five fruits and vegetables a day. Add fruit or a vegetable to each meal, and if you have a snack, pick a piece of fruit or veggies over unhealthy or fast food options.” Help establish these healthy habits for your whole family, she advises:

  • Limit screen time to two hours or less a day
  • Be active at least one hour a day
  • Limit or eliminate sugar-sweetened drinks

“Be a good role model – the best possible way to encourage your child to eat healthy foods and exercise is by doing it yourself.”

Safety First

Debra Barra-Stevens, M.D.

Safety and prevention are important components of a long and healthy life, Dr. Barra-Stevens says. “Talk to your child about how to stay safe. Use helmets and appropriate protective gear
when riding a bike or skateboard, always wear a seat belt and use sunscreen daily whether the sun is shining or not.”

Look After Your Teeth

Keeping your teeth healthy for life is just as important as taking care of the rest of your body, says Dr. Barra-Stevens. “Make sure your child no longer uses a bottle by the time he or she is one year old, establish a good daily oral hygiene routine and visit the dentist regularly for checkups to prevent tooth decay and dental problems later in life.”

Vaccinations – Life-Saving Protection

“Diseases such as whooping cough, tetanus, hepatitis, meningitis and measles are still very much present today and can cause serious illness for children, adults and seniors,” says Dr. Barra-Stevens. “Having your child vaccinated is the best thing you can do to protect him or her against dangerous and life-threatening diseases.”

A Healthy Body Means a Healthy Mind

Establishing a positive and open relationship with your child and making sure he or she knows that you are there for him or her will go a long way to keeping the channels of communication open during the teen years and as your child moves into young adulthood, says Dr. Barra-Stevens. “If you treat your child and other people with respect, your child will follow your lead and learn to communicate and interact with others in the same positive and healthy way,” she says.

“Enough sleep, good nutrition, plenty of exercise and knowing ways to cope and deal with stress are all vital components of a healthy life. Help your child establish the best habits now for a
healthy journey through life.”