Ask the Experts Q&A: December 2019


One thing we all have in common as parents are questions. Lots of questions. Whether it’s concerning how to save for your child’s college fund, best practices for dental care, or how to talk to your child about a death in the family, it can feel overwhelming at times. While Google is handy, it can also be confusing and most importantly, unreliable.

We are so excited to introduce a new feature on Charleston Moms called Ask the Experts where a team of local experts will answer your burning parenting questions in a monthly blog post. Our hope is that you get answers to some common questions that many parents have and connect with these amazing resources right here in our community!

Want to learn more about our team of local experts? Have a question? Ask it here and it will be answered in next month’s post! 

*This is a sponsored post, presented by our valued local partners. While we love sharing these resources with our readers, we have not personally vetted each individual business represented here and encourage our readers to do their own research to find the best fit for their family.

Children’s Health

Q: What are some of the best ways to help reduce common cold symptoms in kids too young to take medicine?

A: Unfortunately we are in the thick of cold season as the respiratory viruses circulate more commonly in the winter. Here are a few useful strategies to prevent and treat common colds in children:

Prevention strategies:
-Be sure to vaccinate everyone 6 months old and up against influenza.
-When another child or a family member has a cough/cold, it is very important to use frequent hand washing to lower the risk of spreading the infection.
-Once your child is old enough, teach them how to blow their nose into a tissue.
-Throw tissues away immediately after use.
-Don’t allow children to share pacifiers, cups, utensils, towels, toothbrushes when sick.

Treatment strategies:
-Suctioning mucous in babies with a bulb syringe may help them with breathing and eating.
-The data shows that giving 2-5ml of honey by mouth as needed may help thin mucous and help children feel better. AVOID honey in children <1yo as it may cause botulism.
-Be sure children stay hydrated as this helps loosen mucous as well.
-Use acetaminophen (dose as directed) when fever causes discomfort.


Elizabeth Mack, MD, MS
Division chief of pediatric critical care
MUSC Children’s Health







Mental Health

Q: How can someone tell if they have postpartum depression?

A: Thank you so much for your question. I would like to explain a few differences between the baby blues and postpartum depression. Most women (up to 80%) will experience some symptoms of the baby blues. Normally, the baby blues happen within the first two weeks after delivery and symptoms begin to decrease and a woman will start to feel like herself again. However, at least one in five moms will experience symptoms of postpartum depression or other mood disorders after their baby is born.

Some symptoms of postpartum depression are:
• crying at least once a day
• feeling sad most of the time
• sense of heaviness all around you
• inability to concentrate
• not enjoying the things you used to
• no interest in sex even after being “cleared” by your doctor
• unable to sleep- even when baby is asleep,
• feeling like a failure, no energy/tired all the time
• extreme appetite changes (eating too much or too little)
• can’t remember the last time you laughed
• irritable- furious at your partner and baby
• feel like the future is hopeless
• feeling like these symptoms will never end
• feeling like you would rather be dead than to feel like this anymore.

While most moms can very easily relate to one or two of these feelings, they also experience periods of happiness and good feelings. They will also start to notice that symptoms start to get better on their own. A woman with postpartum depression will relate to most if not all of these statements for most or all of every day.

If you find yourself agreeing with four or more of these statements/feelings, please reach out! If you are having thoughts that you want to hurt yourself or your baby, please seek help right away even if you do not have any other symptoms. Postpartum depression is very real and devastating. It is not your fault and treatment is available. I would love to get you connected with someone who can help.

Amy Jackson
Licensed Professional Counselor
Sweetgrass Counseling






Oral Health

Q: What are your thoughts on teledentistry for adults who had braces previously, but want to correct some changes in their smile?

A: Teledentistry, unlike telemedicine, gives the provider only a fraction of the information necessary to properly treat an orthodontic case. A remote clinician- usually a general dentist not a specialist- looks at a virtual model of your teeth and then checks the computer’s algorithm for tooth alignment. There isn’t a clinical exam performed that gives insight into joint derangement, or x-rays that show what is in the bone that the teeth are moving in. Doing orthodontic treatment, no matter how minor, without these things is like buying a house without an inspection… a house that is PRICELESS because it’s your teeth. Could you be fine? Maybe, but why take the risk?

If your case really could be treated with just a few clear trays, then your fee at an ACTUAL doctor’s office will be comparable to the fee of these online companies. Many offices don’t require monthly appointments and will complete the majority of your treatment virtually once they’ve done the initial exam and diagnosis. In our office, we offer virtual appointments and have fees as low as $1998 for simple clear aligner cases. Additionally, if you have an issue or complication or you don’t get the result you were expecting, we will fix it or refund you. You would never get that with an teledentistry company.

Dr. Katie Bullwinkel
Board Certified Orthodontist
Bullwinkle Orthodontics







Q: Would consolidating debt damage my credit score? I’ve not been able to find clear information about this.

A: Typically combining debt balances into one new loan will initially raise your credit score. However, as long as you make your payments on time and don’t continue to increase your debt your score will begin to recover and increase over time.

We often recommend to our clients to use some of their cash value in their whole life policy to pay off high-interest debt. The cash value comes out as a loan on the life insurance policy and is much lower typically only 4 or 5%. It is also up to the individual if they would like to repay the loan or not. Taking a loan from your cash value does not affect your credit score so it can be a great alternative. Feel free to reach out to us if you have any further questions.

Caroline Mahoney, Financial Services Professional
Steven Fazio, Financial Services Professional
Riley Knudsen, Financial Services Professional

New York Life, Charleston







Q: What questions should I be asking in a parent-teacher conference?

A. The parent-teacher conference is a wonderful opportunity for teachers to get to know a student’s parents better and, in turn, know more about the child.

Coming into the conference with an open heart and mind is important. Recognizing that teachers and parents need to work as a team sets a positive tone.
• What can I do at home to support what you’re doing in the classroom?
• What are the best ways and times to communicate with you?
• Share information about things that may be affecting your child. Are there any family situations of which the teacher should be aware? Is your child struggling with anything?
• Also share anything you are doing at home that is working. Are you doing special things to motivate your child? Are you using any tactics that are helping with discipline? Reinforcement and continuity between home and school is important for getting and keeping a child on the right track.

Use this time with your child’s teacher to understand the areas where your child is performing well and where they might need some support. If the teacher tells you that your child is struggling (we know this can be difficult to hear), trust that the teacher has your child’s best interest at heart.
• What do you see as my child’s strengths? What do you think are the academic challenges for my child?
• How would you recommend I help? What should I not assist with?
• Does my child participate in class?
• Is my child performing at grade level?
• How do you assess students? How can students study most effectively?
• How much time should homework take? How much help/guidance with homework and studying should I be giving my child at this grade level?
• How can my child develop stronger organizational and time management skills?
• Is extra help available?
What not to ask – questions that compare your child to other students in the class or to his or her siblings. Each student has strengths and areas of growth and needs to be treated as an individual.

School is not just about academics, so be sure to ask about things beyond the classroom.
• How is my child doing socially? Does he or she get along with classmates?
• Does my child seem confident?
• Is my child able to accept and move forward from mistakes?
• How does my child perform with group work?
• How does my child spend lunch and free time?
Especially in the younger grades, children are developing independence and becoming more resourceful – both of which are important for success at school. Ask if there are things that you can work on at home to help support these skills.

Ending the conference with “Is there anything I should know?” is a good way to open the door to any other information the teacher may want to share. After the conference, keep the lines of communication open. When parents and teachers work together, the outcome is a successful, happy, and confident child.

Joanne Stemple
Director of Communications
Mason Prep School






Newborn Care & Postpartum Support

Q: When do children generally stop taking or needing a daily nap?

A: Thank you for your question. Even through the toddler years, your child needs 14 hours of sleep and if he or she is sleeping 12 hours at night they still require two hours of rest during the day. If you have a toddler you know that you cannot force sleep but you can give the opportunity for quiet time.

It’s important to create an environment that fosters sleep. Turn the lights down low, the white noise on, and give your little one naptime opportunity. They can choose to sleep, play, or cry but allowing the opportunity is what is most important. When your toddler is napping once a day make sure that the nap is no longer than 3 1/2 hours and should be over by 4pm (5pm is the latest).

You will note that during developmental milestones the brain will “wake up” and your little one will have a harder time napping. This will usually last for 1 to 2 weeks but if you stay consistent your toddler should resume naps thereafter.

For more nap time advice or a customized schedule based on your family’s specific needs, please email [email protected]

Liz Price
Nurse at Night






Adolescent & Family Therapy

Q: How do you talk to kids about death?

A: Thank you for your question! Dealing with death is difficult for most people. For children, when a loved one dies, they will show their grief in different ways. How the child copes with the loss depends on many things like age, relationship with the deceased, how they find out, and the support they receive. These guidelines are general but can be altered to include your faith or beliefs.

First, use simple, clear words. When you tell your child that someone has died, be caring and talk to them in place they feel comfortable, like their bed or couch in the family home. Use words that are simple and direct. For example, “I have some sad news to tell you. Grandma ___ today.” (Use the words that feel most comfortable to you, such as died, passed on, went to heaven, etc.) Give your child time to process the information and wait for any questions.

Provide an open space to comfort your child. Each child will respond differently. Some kids cry, some ask questions, some walk away, and some act like nothing happened. THIS IS OKAY! Allow your child to process how they need and answer all questions honestly. Some children not have any questions but prefer silent snuggles. If they appear to be in shock or are non-responsive, feel free to ask them, “Would you like to talk about it?” “Would you like a hug?” or “Would you like some time alone?” Then allow them to decide how to proceed.

Process their emotions together. Over the coming days, weeks, and months encourage your child to ask or say what they are thinking and/or feeling. Stay open with your child, talking to them about your feelings can be helpful. Say things, “I know you are feeling frustrated: I am mad as well. We both loved Nana, and she loves us, too.”

Talk to them about the future. With death, changes to every day can occur. Be proactive and explain the changes. For example, “Uncle Davis will pick you up from school like Nana used to.” During this time, explain the funeral or any rituals that are going to take place. Explain that many people will say, “I am sorry for your loss,” or “My condolences,” and possible responses of, “Thank you,” or “Thanks for coming.”

Create experiences to remember the person. In the days and weeks ahead, encourage your child to draw pictures or write down favorite stories of their loved one. Do not avoid mentioning the person who died. Recalling and sharing happy memories helps heal grief and activate positive feelings. It can be an important reminder for adults and children that the deceased would want to be remembered in a positive way and they would want us continuing to experience joy in our lives.

Comfort and reassurance emotions. Focus on your child’s behavior and notice if your child seems sad, worried, or upset in other ways. If you see any changes, ask about their feelings. Continue to talk about your child about your emotions and let your child know that it takes time to feel better after a loved one dies. Some kids may temporarily have trouble concentrating or sleeping or have fears or worries. Support groups and counseling can help kids who need more support.

Help your child feel better. Provide the comfort your child needs! If will be difficult to not dwell on sad feelings. After a few minutes of talking and listening, shift to an activity or topic that helps your child feel a little better. Play, make art, cook, or go somewhere together.

Give your child time to heal from the loss. Grief is a process. The grief process will happen over time. Be sure to have ongoing conversations to see how your child is feeling and doing. Healing does not mean forgetting about the loved one. It means remembering the person with love and letting loving memories stir good feelings that support us as we go on to enjoy life.

Ashlin Blum
Executive Director
Empowered Family



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