Dr. Syeda Amna Husain is a board-certified pediatrician providing quality pediatric care to children at her practice Pure Direct Pediatrics, in Marlboro, New Jersey. She is a strong believer that pediatricians are the cornerstone of helping parents and families raise the next generation and that our children deserve the best care. As such, she is personally committed to delivering meaningful advice and attention to her patients and families. As a native of the Carolinas, Dr. Husain grew up near Charlotte, North Carolina. She and her husband, a dermatologist, made the decision after her residency to move to his home state of New Jersey. In her free time, she keeps herself busy with an energetic toddler daughter, testing out new recipes, exercising, and always making room for dessert.
New parents have a million questions and Dr. Syeda Amna Husain is here to answer them! Check out our interview with Dr. Hsuain below to help ease any new parent nervousness.
Crane- How often should a parent take their newborn to their pediatrician?
Dr. Husain- As a general pediatrician, we see children from newborns until 22 years of age. Typically, the newborn schedule is a:
Crane- How do you make children who are nervous and anxious comfortable during their appointments?
Dr. Husain- I think this is a great question and also a good time to point out that children really feed off our emotions. Similar to sometimes parents stating they don’t like going to the dentist or the dentist is scary, children will pick up on our subtle emotions and statements and project that same fear. I tell parents to start early by telling them how important it is to go to the doctor and try to refrain from statements like “If you misbehave, you have to get a shot!” We never want our patients to feel of the doctor’s office is a punishment or a scary place and starting those practices early can help!
Crane- What advice can you give to new parents to help keep their children healthy?
Dr. Husain- I usually discuss safe sleep practices and how to determine your baby is hungry or getting enough breast milk or formula. We also discuss car seat safety, emergencies like fever in a newborn, care of the umbilical cord, and what to anticipate between now and the next check up.
Crane- What is the best way a new parent can deal with a fussy newborn?
Dr. Husain- This is such a tough and common topic! I have to assure parents that newborns cry for a multitude of reasons- a wet diaper, a soiled diaper, hunger, sleep, and sometimes no reason at all! Once you’ve gone down your checklist of possible reasons, make sure you take a moment to try either pacing with baby, rocking baby, or showing them other objects to determine if the cry is something serious that doesn’t stop with a minor distraction. If the cry persists, I have parents check a temperature to determine it’s not an illness brewing in their newborn. If that is normal, oftentimes, it can be other causes common to the newborn period like reflux or even colic. I suggest parents have a game plan and if one parent needs to take turns and tag out for a moment of clarity, then that’s ok! A crying baby can be very overwhelming, and parents must remember to take care of themselves as well so take a moment to put baby down in a safe place and/or supervised by someone else and take a moment for yourself.
Crane- What advice would you give to expecting parents who are feeling anxious about the arrival of their new baby?
Dr. Husain- Anxious feelings are very normal! Everyone tries to prepare you for losing sleep, but it’s much more than lack of sleep. Your entire schedule now begins to rely on another human being. You’re their source of love, nutrition, comfort, and nourishment in this world. Anxious feelings are bound to happen. Take time to prepare beforehand however that may be for you- reading books, listening to podcasts, preparing the nursery, interviewing a pediatrician, or all of the above. Everything will be fine in the end but fear and anxiety of the unknown is completely normal.
Crane- What is some advice you wish you had as a first-time parent?
Dr. Husain- I became a parent as a resident, working 80 hour work weeks. It was very tough for me initially because part of me longed to be back at work and the other part of me didn’t want to leave my newborn. The first day I went back, I was torn up and felt overwhelming guilt. But in the end, being able to work and be away from my little girl for a few hours of the day actually was healthy for me because I began to experience confidence in my career again, now as a working mom, and value the time I had with my daughter even more.
Crane- How important is a child’s annual checkup? What ages are the most essential to see your pediatrician?
Dr. Husain- Incredibly important! I think all ages are essential. Initially in the newborn period, we are checking growth, development, vaccination status, behavior, and many more important aspects of pediatric medicine. As your child grows older, we assess similar issues and other important issues like pediatric mental health, which we are beginning to see more diagnoses arising from.
Crane- How do you tell parents to go about dealing with allergies? Do you recommend they test out the bigger allergies such as Peanuts or Tree nuts?
Dr. Husain- Great question! We know a lot more about food allergy development now within the last 10-15 years. As a pediatrician, food allergies always interested me. It’s amazing how the immune system can be so complex and how we can have differences within generations in families. As a mother, I came to learn my daughter also had certain food allergies. I went from being the doctor to being the patient’s family member. The level of anxiety as a mother of a child with food allergies became very real. Getting your baby eating lots of different foods around 4-6 months of age can help. Early introduction is important because landmark research showed early and regular dietary exposure to a food, specifically a food often associated with allergies, like peanut, may help reduce the risk of a child developing an allergy to that food. You also don’t need to introduce one food at a time. That’s old advice. You can feel comfortable introducing your baby to multiple foods at once. I always recommend checking in with your child’s pediatrician to obtain close guidance and advice on how to go about introducing your baby foods. You can see that not only early introduction but also a diverse diet is important for the prevention of allergies. Even with these measures, food allergies can still develop, like in my daughter! I strongly recommend talking to your pediatrician about which foods are safe to introduce, at what age, and what texture, depending on your method of choice– baby led weaning, purees, or a combination!
Crane- What inspired you to become a pediatrician?
Dr. Husain- I wish I could say I was destined to be a pediatrician…and in some ways, maybe I was. My mother is a general pediatrician, and I grew up thinking it was definitely what I wanted to do. When drafting my personal statement, I thought about how peds personally impacted me:
Pediatricians play a critical role in family dynamics and have a huge impact in guiding decisions that directly affect a child-stress, emotions, behavior, diet, exercise, milestones, etc. It helps that our patients are pretty awesome too. I don’t have to beg a smoker with COPD to quit cigarettes. Children want to get better. There’s no concept of “ignoring the doctor’s advice.” I honor the trust parents give me to care for the most precious thing in their lives. Taking care of a patient from birth to 22 years takes continuity of care to a new level.
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