FamilyLife Today® Podcast

More Questions for Moms on Call

with Jennifer Walker, RN, Laura Hunter, Sabrina Beasley McDonald | April 3, 2008
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Getting ready to have a baby? Today on the broadcast, pediatric nurses Laura Hunter and Jennifer Walker, authors of the book Moms on Call, share some basic baby care with "FamilyLife Today" host Dennis Rainey and expectant mom Sabrina Beasley.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Getting ready to have a baby? Today on the broadcast, pediatric nurses Laura Hunter and Jennifer Walker, authors of the book Moms on Call, share some basic baby care with "FamilyLife Today" host Dennis Rainey and expectant mom Sabrina Beasley.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

Getting ready to have a baby?

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More Questions for Moms on Call

With Jennifer Walker, RN, Laura H...more
April 03, 2008
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Bob: When parents leave to go to the hospital for the birth of a baby, they are always excited.  Sometimes they are so excited they forget a few little details.  Here is Jennifer Walker.

Jennifer: You are required to take the baby home from the hospital in a carseat and so prior to having your baby, you want to get the carseat, have it installed correctly.  A lot of the firehouses will do that. Some of the big baby stores will do that for you, and you practice putting something in it.  If you don't have a baby, take a small stuffed animal so you have a little practice with it.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, April 3rd.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  We're going to get real practical today and help you think through what's going to be going on in the first few days and weeks and months after you bring your new baby home from the hospital.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us.  It's kind of a like a stroll down memory lane for a couple of old guys like us, isn't it, huh?

Dennis: You know, after – let's think – how many years did we have diapers?  We started in 1974, and we finished in 85-86.

Bob: So a dozen years of diapers?

Dennis: That's why we sprayed the last one bronze.  We had it bronzed for a dozen years …

Bob: Hanging up there next to the moosehead in your trophy room, right?


Dennis: Just the thought of that causes me to tremble.  We are talking about how we respond to newborns and infants, and we have a couple of pediatric nurses here – Laura Hunter and Jennifer Walker, who have been gracious enough to allow us to not only pick their brains with a lot of questions, Bob, but to also mine their experience over the past 20 years together that you've had as nurses in the Atlanta area.

And you both have – well, you have eight children between you.  Both of you have had twins, so you know a little bit about what this is.

Laura: Just a little.

Dennis: Yeah, just a little.  We're talking here, and they've formed a – is it an organization or is it –?

Bob: It's a business. 

Dennis: Is that right?

Jennifer:  Uh-huh, a corporation.

Bob: Moms On Call, and this is where you come out and do what Grandma used to do, or what – you come out and really help a young mom know the basics, right?

Laura: That day-to-day care.

Dennis: I have to tell you a story and, Bob, you'll remember this.  We did a focus group a number of years ago in Seattle, and I was behind this mirror looking at some of our radio listeners, and we asked them, "What are you looking for as you start your families?" And this one young mom said, "I want somebody with skin on.  I want somebody that I can ask the questions of," and that's really what you two ladies have done.  You have also written a book called "The Moms On Call Guide to Basic Baby Care," and just to make sure we don't get too far away from reality, we asked Sabrina Beasley to join us.  Sabrina has worked for FamilyLife for more than seven years and is a soon – well, we said it yesterday, she is a mom already.

Bob: That's right, but May is when you're expecting your baby to be born.

Sabrina: Yes, that's when the baby will be taken care of outside of my body.


Dennis: I want to begin by asking you ladies about illnesses, because it seems like whether it's an ear infection, runny noses, sore throats, there are all these illnesses that – well, Bob, do you remember the days when you had babies?  I was always sick, because I was always cuddling with them, and they would rub their noses on mine …

Bob: That green runny-nose syndrome.  We talked about the pink bubble gum medicine and the ear tubes.  I mean, that's pretty standard stuff for a lot of parents.  Why is it that babies have all that runny nose and those ear problems?

Jennifer:  Some babies do and some babies don't.  I tell you, you will have a baby that will be there with an ear infection – by "there" I mean at the pediatrician's office every other week, and then you'll have a baby that never has ear infections at all.  My three boys did not have ear infections, and it's really more the way that the ear canal is tilted a little bit, that those kids tend to develop more fluid, and they are there all the time, and the symptoms of an ear infection are the same symptoms that they have when they're teething.  There is no way to know whether they have an ear infection unless the pediatrician looks in the ear to see.

So it can just make moms so nervous– how will I know?  They just get fussy, they don't sleep very well, and what we typically will tell moms is if they have an interruption in two or more of their activities of daily living, this is something we need to look into, and the activities of daily living are their general affect, how they're doing, are they fussy or are they happy, you know, when they're not feeding or sleeping, and then feeding and sleeping. 

So if they're not eating well, and they're not sleeping well, that's a red flag.  If they're fussy all day, and they're not sleeping well, that's a red flag, not eating and so any two interruptions in their activities of daily living would prompt a look for those kids who tend to –

Bob: A trip to the doctor, is that what it would prompt?

Jennifer: Absolutely – or at least a call, a call first.

Dennis: And so take me to the decision about antibiotics or not.  There's a great deal being said today.  You both are nurses, you're both looking at each other like I've just touched a hot button here.

Laura: We just wrote a newsletter, and we covered some of those issues about antibiotics and the overuse of those antibiotics.

Jennifer: The overuse of antibiotics has led to this MRSA outbreak that we have recently heard about in the news, and that's a type of bacteria, a type of staph bacteria that's resistant to antibiotics, which will happen.  Bacteria will develop these defense mechanisms because we used antiobiotics so much.

What also we have recently discovered is that on an international scale, America treats all ear infections typically as if they were bacterial.  There are two things that can cause an infection – a bacteria, which can be treated by antibiotics, and a virus, which just has to run its course.  Antibiotics won't help it.

What they're finding is that the larger percentage of ear infections are caused by a virus, and so you'll see a lot more things changing down at the pediatric level in your hometown to say, you know, there's a little fluid back there, but let's wait.  Take a step back in both ear infections and things like nasal congestion – we have to take a good look at what's happening.  Ear infections are typically not fatal, although they are uncomfortable and very difficult to get through especially in the evenings, and we've held our babies in the evenings as they've had some discomfort with their ears.

Dennis: Now, what about damage being done by an ear infection, though?

Jennifer: The ear infection, if the fluid builds up, probably about 10 to 15 years ago in pediatrics, we would burst the eardrum on purpose.

Bob: Had it done.  I had my ears lanced when I was growing up.

Jennifer: A little needle and pop it, and then the fluid drains out, and it's great.  That's what the concept of tubes, ear tubes, was based on – was put a little tube in there so the fluid can always drain out for these kids who are having repeated ear infections.

So they used to drain the fluid out that way.  Really, the primary danger with many ear infections, over time, is …

Laura: Over [inaudible].

Jennifer:  Yeah, we don't want to burst the eardrum 10 or more times.  That's when we'll start to develop some scar tissue, but we used to treat it that way and if, at the very worst, the eardrum does burst and allows that fluid to …

Laura: It feels automatically better, and they say …

Jennifer: They sleep better, and unless it's just continuous, continuous, it's not damaging, overall to the ear.

Bob: If the sinus drainage is yellow or green, does that mean there is an infection?

Laura: Not necessarily.

Jennifer: Eighty percent of nasal drainage is viral, whether it's green or yellow.

Laura: Or allergic.

Jennifer: Mm-hm, or allergic.  And so what we'll see is – with runny noses, again, we want to treat the runny nose, but we have to kind of take a step back and, as a mom, it tends to bother us more than it bothers the baby.

So if the baby is running around, you know, their nose is – it's yucky, it's nasty to look at, and you could spackle the walls with it sometimes, but they're running around happy, doing just fine, doesn't bother them …

Laura: Leave them alone.

Jennifer: Then take a little Vaseline, put it on their upper lip so that they don't get a rash, and let it work itself out.  So we have to kind of determine, is this really bothering the baby …

Laura: Or us.

Jennifer: Or the toddler or is it really bothering me.

Sabrina: Well, speaking of Vaseline, another thing you have in your book here is a list of things that every new mom needs to get, and there were a few things on there I was surprised by – things like cornstarch, different things that you're saying, basically, they're kind of home remedies that help, and you don't have to buy into the really expensive media advertising that we see on TV.  It's not necessarily better just because it's a better commercial.  You know, it's kind of here's your basic household stuff before you talk to the doctor, before you call anyone, have these things on hand, yeah.

Laura: Try these things on hand.  We do, we have a list of about, I don't know, 30 or 40 things.

Bob: Including canned peaches in heavy syrup.

Jennifer: Ah, there it goes.

Laura: I knew you were going to ask that one, I knew you were going to ask that one. 

Jennifer: Have you ever heard of emetrol?  It's an anti-nausea medication.  It's $12 a bottle or so.  It is almost the exact same thing as high fructose corn syrup.

Dennis: You're kidding?

Jennifer: No, so you can get the same advantage.  What it does is it coats the stomach with this thick syrup, so you can get the same advantage.

Laura: It's an anti-nausea, anti-emetic.  It's great …

Sabrina: Why didn't somebody tell me this about two months ago.  That would have been very helpful.

Laura: It's a great anti-nausea, anti-emetic.  It goes along the lines of coke syrup.  When we were kids, you could go down, the pharmacist would go behind the counter at Woolco where the fountain drink is and pull off some coke syrup and put it in a prescription bottle and hand it to you.

Bob: Then charge you $14.95 for it.


Dennis: Well, we're going to have that list at  If you ladies don't mind us publishing that for our listeners.  I want to take you to another issue around the safety of children that moms always wonder about, and that's a child who rolls off the bed, hits himself or herself on the hardwood floors or even the carpet, and makes a real thud, and they're going, "Oh, my goodness, my child, I've probably broken my child's neck." At what point should they be concerned and take that child to the doctor?

Jennifer: We will get a call at least once a week of a crying mother who left their baby who didn't know how to roll before this moment on the couch or the changing table or the bed, and the child rolled off onto the floor and cried right away, and the mom feels horrible.  Now, nothing will replace your pediatrician's advice, and any time you have an incident, you know, absolutely should contact your pediatrician, but here is some great news.

Number one, God knew that we were going to get dropped before we were two because of the way that He made our bodies, this is so clear.  In infants, especially, what we most worry about with falls is head injury, and you'll hear the term "closed head injury," and that means that the skull is one piece.  For us adults, we have a skull that is all one piece, and if we jar our brain, and there is some swelling in there, there is nowhere for it to go, because our skull is one piece, and it's not flexible.

The baby's skull is actually in three pieces, and that's why they have the soft spot on the top of their head.  The piece of the skull is not formed, a closed, solid piece yet.  So when they fall, if there is a little swelling, it can accommodate, so it's not as dangerous for them.  Their bones are spongier than ours, as adults, our bones are brittle; as adults, having a head injury is very significant. 

And, again, I want to repeat, I don't want to put anybody's baby in danger, absolutely call your pediatrician, but the great news is they typically will tolerate these things very well, and we're going to look for a few symptoms.

In older kids, we definitely like to make sure that they are arousable every 30 minutes times 4 for their first nap or falling asleep.  That means if they fall asleep, in 20 minutes you wake them up, make sure they're arousable, then they go back to sleep.  Twenty minutes – and you do that four times to make sure that they're arousable, and then you can let them sleep.  That's a big question that moms have.  They fell off the bed today and I'm afraid to let them go to sleep.  We have to make sure that they are arousable every 20 minutes times 4, and then let them relax.

Bob: While we're talking about beds, can I stir up the mailbag and just ask about …

Dennis: Oh, yeah, here we go.

Laura: Here we go.

Bob: Let me ask Sabrina, have you heard about the family bed?  Have you read about that whole idea?

Sabrina: I don't think so.

Bob: Okay, do you want to explain to Sabrina what the family bed idea is?

Laura: The family bed is where there are people who say to bring the baby into the bed for years – in with your bed.

Bob: So everybody sleeps together.

Laura: If you're husband and wife, everybody sleeps together.

Sabrina: For years?

Jennifer: Mm-hm.

Bob: Sabrina just kind of …

Dennis: How do you feel about that, Sabrina?


Sabrina: I don't think I agree with that one.  It interrupts the intimacy just a bit, just a little bit.

Bob: Those who recommend the family bed and say this is why – and, in fact, they say not just bring the baby in, but if you have another one, you bring that baby in, and then you just kind of grow as a family.  Why are they suggest – what's the benefit of this as they see it?

Jennifer: The benefit is particularly that the feel it's a family closeness, that the children feel secure …

Laura: Bonding.

Jennifer: And that they're bonded and that they're not frightened.  But they also don't learn to handle being able to soothe themselves to sleep and, at one point, they are going to be let out into a situation where they're going to need to sleep by themselves.

Laura: And they need their own space.  Not only do the children need their own space, is our view, but Mom and Dad need their own space.

Bob: I think Sabrina rejected the family bed kind of right off the bat.  But if a mom calls you and says, "Okay, we've read about this, there's this doctor who is recommending it, and we saw a thing on TV, and we're thinking about doing it, do you say "Give it a try," or do you say, "I wouldn't do that."

Laura: I recommend not doing that.  One, you hear every single or sound that that newborn baby makes.  The baby can smell you being in that room.  Jennifer did a consult last week, and it was just – you've got to tell that story.

Jennifer: Well, they had the baby, and the baby was sleeping, actually, just in a bassinet next to the bed, and the baby was about three and a half weeks old, and they said, "When is it safe for the baby to go in their crib?" And they were one wall away.  I said, "Now would be a great time." They go, "Tonight?" I said, "Yes."  I said, "Think about having to go to sleep in the kitchen of your favorite steak restaurant, and maybe you kind of wake up at 2:00 in the morning, and you smell those onions a-sizzlin' and you think, "You know what? Maybe I'm not really all that hungry but I could really go for a steak right now at 2:00."

Well, the same thing.  I said, "Don't make that baby sleep in its favorite steak restaurant," because it can smell mom's breast milk.  And so it kind of comes to this little twilight sleep and smells mom's breast milk, it's going to be stimulating, and the baby will be stimulated to come more into that full awake state.

Laura: "Maybe I really am hungry."

Dennis: Okay, before we stir up any more mail on that one, I want to ask about care safety seats.  When we started out our family, and, I mean, this was back in 1974.  Car safety seats were pretty – how else shall I say it – primitive.  I mean, they were pretty basic.

Bob: You had the wooden ones that you used?

Dennis: It's not the covered wagon, Bob.

Bob: Okay, I'm just checking.

Dennis: But today I'm looking at my kids, and it's, like, unbelievable.  Is there something young moms and dads ought to know about these safety restraint seats?

Jennifer:  Yes, this was a recommendation we made to Sabrina earlier is that you're required to take the baby home from the hospital in a carseat, and so prior to having your baby, you want to get the carseat, have it installed correctly.  A lot of the firehouses will do that, some of the big baby stores will do that for you, and you want to practice putting something in it.  If you don't have a baby, take a small stuffed animal so you know where all these straps go and what goes into what.  And so you have a little practice with it.

But, yes, I think that was one of the better ideas, you know, with these cars that go 75 miles an hour.

Bob: You say have it installed?  It's not like the old days where you just swing it in and swing it out and put the seatbelt across the carseat?

Laura: Now it goes behind the carseat and around it and through it.

Jennifer: And they also have some attachments that you can actually tether the back …

Laura: A tether strap.

Jennifer: Of the carseat to a piece that you install to your car where it straps the back of the carseat actually.

Dennis: And a good number of these seats are not properly installed by parents because they've never installed them before, and so in a wreck they're really not safe at that point.

Laura: Just have somebody tell you, walk you through it.  Whether it's someone at the baby store that you get your registered at or whether it's a firehouse, check in with your local area and make sure you know how to do that carseat.

And one thing is, with the straps, when you go to put that stuffed animal in the straps, you want those straps snug enough that it keeps that baby nice and snug in that carseat.  So make sure you learn how to let it go and to tighten it.

Jennifer: And the National Transportation and Safety Administration keeps a list on its website, which I believe is, where you can look and see in your area where they are having professionals – the firemen go through a six-hour class to learn how to put carseats in, and they'll tell you who is qualified to be able to put your carseat in your card appropriately.

Bob: All right, let me just ask about this one, because you got this call – who got it – at 2:30 in the morning saying, "I want to know what to do if my child is constipated."

Jennifer: That would be me.

Bob: You got that call at 2:30 in the morning?  And what did you ask the lady?

Jennifer:  Well, she said, you know, "I just want to know what to do about if my child gets constipated."  I said, "Well, how is the child right now?"  I thought maybe the child was in a lot of discomfort, it was, you know, 2:30 in the morning."  And she said, "Oh, no, no, no, the baby's fine, she's asleep.  I just didn't know if I'd know what to do if it ever happened."

Dennis: You've got to be kidding me.

Jennifer: No, I'm not kidding.

Laura: I had an internist call me one time.

Dennis: You're talking about a trained professional.

Laura: A trained professional, internist, called me and said "My six-week-old baby has not pooped in 22.2 hours," and it was 2:00 in the morning.  And I had to think – 22 hours …

Bob: And what did you tell the internist?

Laura: I said call me back in a couple of days during office hours.

Bob: Take a couple of aspirin and go to sleep, ma'am.

Sabrina: I have a question about the newsletter you were talking about, and you mentioned that earlier, and the thing that sounds interesting about it, particularly, is that you keep up with kind of the new trends and the new things that are coming out in the news, and you let new moms know about these things.  How can we get signed up for that newsletter?

Laura: If you'll go out to, sign up for the newsletter, it's free, it will come to you about once a month, I think, is what we're doing right now.  And we give you the handy-dandy tips – what is really going on, what's in the news, and kind of weed through the myths and we often talk about mythbusters, you know, trying to weed through those myths so that we can give you that practical advice – "This is what you can really do" and what's going around.  Okay, here we are in November, what's going around in November?  Well, we've got cough, and we've got croup, and what you can look for and what you can do about those symptoms and just handy-dandy tips.

Dennis: Well, I want to thank you, Laura Hunter and Jennifer Walker, for your work on your book, "A Moms On Call Guide to Basic Baby Care," and for just equipping a lot of moms, especially Sabrina, and thanks for coming in, Sabrina, and we'll look forward to getting some pictures of your baby.

Bob: You've got to feel like you're the best-prepared mom in America right now, don't you?

Sabrina: No.


Dennis: You know, what we've talked about here, though, in several broadcasts, is really the importance of having an older, more experienced woman alongside you as you start out these new seasons of life, and the Bible is real clear about older women need to instruct the younger women in how to love their husbands and love their children and create a family, and I just want to commend you ladies for doing that, and I hope you'll come back and join us again sometime and teach Bob how to wrap himself up in the swaddling …

Laura: We're going to make him a big one.  We're going to work on that.

Dennis: A swaddling blanket for Bob.

Bob: A big blanket, that's right.

Laura: Thanks for having us, we're so excited.

Bob: We've got copies of the book, "The Moms On Call Guide to Basic Baby Care" in our FamilyLife Resource Center, and there is information about how to get your own swaddling blanket, but the only ones that are really available are the ones that are baby size.

You'll find the information at  When you go to our home page, click on the right side of the screen where it says "Today's Broadcast," and that will take you to the area of the site where there is more information about the book, which comes with a DVD and also information about the blankets and how you can get the baby blankets that are just the right size for swaddling. 

There is also information about a devotional book for busy young moms called "Are You Talking to Me?" by Kim Wier.  Again, all of the resources we have are on our website at, or if it's easier for you, just call 1-800-FLTODAY.  Again, that's 1-800-358-6329, and we'll make arrangements to have the resources you need sent out to you.

I think most of our listeners, at least our regular listeners by now know that FamilyLife Today is listener-supported.  It's folks who listen to the program who also get in touch with us from time to time to make a donation to help pay for the production and syndication costs associated with this radio program.  Our program is now heard on more than 1,000 radio stations all across the country, and you help make that possible when you make a donation to the ministry of FamilyLife Today, and we appreciate you doing that.

This week when you make a donation of any amount for the ministry of FamilyLife Today, we want to send you a thank you gift.  It's the brand-new FamilyLife Marriage Bible, a complete new King James version of the Bible that includes articles, devotions, romance tips, parenting help from Dennis and Barbara Rainey.  All of it is alongside the text of the Scriptures so that as you spend time each day reading through the Bible, you've got encouragement and help for your marriage and for your family right there side-by-side with the text of Scripture.

Again, we are happy to send this out to you as our thank you gift this week when you make a donation of any amount to the ministry of FamilyLife Today.  If you're donating online at, when you come to the keycode box, type in the word "Bible," so we'll know to send you a copy of this new Bible, or call 1-800-FLTODAY, make a donation over the phone, and ask for a copy of the FamilyLife Marriage Bible.  We're happy to get one in your hands, and we appreciate your support of the ministry of FamilyLife Today.

Tomorrow we're going to hear some questions about parenting for moms and dads and answers from Dennis and Barbara Rainey.  This is from a recent gathering of listeners in the Seattle area, and we'll share some of that with your tomorrow.  I hope you can be back for that.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We'll see you tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas – help for today and hope for tomorrow.  


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