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Claire McCarthy, M.D.
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Claire McCarthy, M.D., is a pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital. An Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, an official spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics and a senior editor for Harvard Health Publications, she has been writing about health and parenting for magazines, newspapers, and the internet for more than 20 years. She and her husband are raising five children ranging in age from 24 to 9. She blogs for Thriving, the health and parenting blog of Children's Hospital Boston, and for as MD Mama; you can follow her on Twitter at @drClaire.

Entries by Claire McCarthy, M.D.

Why We Need to Talk to Strangers

(0) Comments | Posted March 18, 2015 | 3:44 PM

I remember a warm September day at the playground 22 years ago. I was there with my 19-month-old daughter and newborn son. Zack was hungry, so I sat down on a bench to nurse him -- but every time I got him settled, Michaela ran away from me. Far away,...

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What I Tell Parents Who Ask Me About Alternate Vaccine Schedules

(6) Comments | Posted March 2, 2015 | 3:23 PM

It happens every once in a while in my practice: Parents ask if we can delay or skip certain vaccines, or spread them out.

According to a study just published in the journal Pediatrics, I'm not alone -- in fact, 93 percent of pediatricians get asked the...

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Should Cupcakes Be Banned From School Parties?

(146) Comments | Posted February 23, 2015 | 2:36 PM

When my older children were in elementary school, I sent in cupcakes for their birthdays or for class parties.

My youngest is in elementary school now, and for his birthday, I sent in pencils and temporary tattoos for classmates -- because the school doesn't allow us to send in sweets...

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4 Mistakes Parents Make at the Pediatrician's Office

(38) Comments | Posted February 17, 2015 | 4:14 PM

I love being a pediatrician; there's nothing I would rather do. But sometimes I get frustrated by things that parents do -- or don't do.

I'm not talking about things like being late (hey, I run late, it would be unfair to complain), or getting upset with the staff...

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The Life Lessons I've Learned From My Valentine's Day Baby

(2) Comments | Posted February 12, 2015 | 11:13 AM

Just before midnight on Valentine's Day of 1991, I got the best Valentine's Day present I've ever had: my daughter, Michaela. She was the best present not just because she was my first child, but because of what she has taught me -- mostly, by being different from me.


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The Good Thing About the Disney Measles Outbreak

(126) Comments | Posted February 2, 2015 | 11:02 AM

Cases of measles linked to an exposure at Disneyland continue to spread, not just in California, but in several other states and in Mexico. The numbers of cases are climbing -- and so are the number of exposed people who might get sick -- and expose more people before they...

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Do Parents Squash the Kindness in Their Kids?

(4) Comments | Posted January 26, 2015 | 11:57 AM

The other day, I read about some really cool research that suggests that little kids are naturally altruistic.

It got me thinking: What is it we do that stops them from being that way? Because, let's face it, not all big kids -- and definitely not all grownups...

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6 Ways to Stop Yelling At Your Kids (Or At Least Do It Less)

(0) Comments | Posted January 14, 2015 | 12:11 PM

Everyone yells at their kids. Oh, I'm sure there are some truly perfect parents out there who don't (and some who don't because they are physically unable to yell), but the rest of us do. Parents are human; we all get frustrated, angry, exhausted and scared and, well, yell.


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Does How You Dress Your Kids for Cold Weather Say Something About You As a Parent?

(0) Comments | Posted January 7, 2015 | 1:08 PM

For years, my husband and I have argued about how to dress the kids for cold weather (given that we have five kids ranging in age from 23 to 9, this argument truly has been going on for a while). He says I don't dress them warmly enough. I say...

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The 4 Resolutions I Hope Will Make Me a Better Parent (and Wife)

(0) Comments | Posted December 31, 2014 | 3:51 PM

It's New Year's resolution time -- the time when we all say we'll do all that stuff that we do for about a month and then quit (it always cracks me up how the gym and pool at the YMCA fill up briefly in January). I'm as guilty of it...

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Hillary Clinton and 'Too Small to Fail': Are We Too Big to Care?

(0) Comments | Posted October 13, 2014 | 1:01 PM

At the national conference of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) this past weekend, I got to hear Hillary Clinton talk about the AAP's partnership with her "Too Small to Fail" campaign. It made me happy -- and sad.

The partnership is a great idea. It's all about...

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Don't Panic About Enterovirus D68

(2) Comments | Posted October 8, 2014 | 1:46 PM

With all the news about Enterovirus D68 sending hundreds of children to hospitals, it's easy to panic when you hear about a case in your neighborhood -- or, even worse, if your child starts coughing.

But please, don't panic.

This virus has certainly caused trouble and...

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6 Reasons Why Making Friends With Kids Is a Real Accomplishment

(0) Comments | Posted August 5, 2014 | 6:29 PM

The other day at a family party, a 6-year-old jumped out of her chair when she saw me and came over to give me a big hug.

I couldn't have been more honored. It made my day.

I firmly believe that the poem "Success" has it right by...

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You Can Say No

(6) Comments | Posted July 30, 2014 | 10:51 AM

I see it again and again in my practice: parents who seem to have forgotten that they are in charge.

"You can say no," I find myself saying to family after family. Which is kind of an amazing thing to have to say, if you think about it. You'd...

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The Children at the Border Are... Children

(14) Comments | Posted July 23, 2014 | 5:54 PM

As I listen to the news coverage about all the unaccompanied minors coming from Central America, what I mostly hear is worry about how to house them, how to handle the legal ramifications, how to pay for them and how to stop them from coming across the border.


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The Actual Risks of Vaccines (It Turns Out There Aren't Many)

(45) Comments | Posted July 8, 2014 | 2:02 PM

These days, we hear a lot about the risks of vaccines. As a pediatrician, I talk to many parents who are very frightened about those risks -- and some choose not to vaccinate because of their fear.

Some of the risks we hear about are real, but some of...

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Why Sick Kids Should Be Allowed at Daycare

(30) Comments | Posted June 23, 2014 | 11:35 AM

I see it all the time at our practice. Parents come with kids who really don't need to go to the doctor; they are only mildly ill, or already getting better. When I ask them why they came, the answer is simple: daycare.

They need a note saying the...

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I Have No Plans for My Kids This Summer

(18) Comments | Posted June 19, 2014 | 2:09 PM

I flunk as a parent. I have no plans for my youngest kids this summer.

The older ones are working. But the 13-year-old and 8-year-old, the ones at the formative stages of their academic and skill development (if you believe what everyone says), are doing squat. No camp. No enriching...

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How My Father Taught Me to Make Stuff Up (And How That Has Made All the Difference)

(0) Comments | Posted June 9, 2014 | 3:03 PM

When my sister and I were little, we had an almost daily ritual with my father: drawing stories.

He would sit us on his lap and get out his clipboard, a piece of paper and his black click pen. He'd divide the paper into four parts, and draw as he...

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The Top 7 Reasons Parents Tell Me They Don't Want to Vaccinate

(42) Comments | Posted June 4, 2014 | 4:32 PM

Just last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that between January 1 and May 23 of this year, there were 288 cases of measles reported in the US. That's more than the total number of cases in any year since 2000, when measles was...

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