Anyone who has tendencies toward hypochondria--and who doesn't--knows that children, especially little ones, can bring out the worst anxieties in what are otherwise rational and reasonable adults. Once home from the hospital and over their initial fears of picking up the newborn, many doting parents are bound to become obsessed with what they perceive as irregularities in their child's behavior and anatomy.
Are those convulsions she's having when her arms and legs periodically shoot out from her sides like the limbs of a mechanical jumping jack? Why does her bellybutton stick out two inches farther than those in all the angelic pictures in baby books? Will her nose, which got pushed to one side of her face during delivery, be back in position in time for her college graduation? And what about all those white scaly spots on top of her head, the ones her grandmother says to ignore and her Salvadoran baby sitter keeps rubbing with olive oil?
On the market today are myriad books that will tell the new as well as the experienced parent how to cope with such problems and whose advice, if anyone's, to follow. The latest was jointly written by a pediatrician from Sacramento who served on the faculty of Columbia University for 16 years and a journalist who specializes in consumer medicine. Organized around the child's anatomy and its developmental stages from birth to 16 years of age, "The Parent's Pediatric Companion" is a home manual explaining with good humor and good sense a spectrum of conditions from yellow jaundice to adolescent obesity that are part of the normal growth and development of a healthy child. In clear, easy-to-find entries, the book offers detailed explanations of every problem--and non-problem--that my child faced in her first seven weeks of life.