Chicago-based pediatrician and mom Dr. Payal Adhikari addresses more of your coronavirus (COVID-19) questions and concerns. One of her biggest pieces of advice is keeping in mind how important it is to sacrifice things like family visits and unnecessary socializing now to benefit everyone in the long run.

As things continue to evolve daily, Dr. Payal’s favorite websites for accurate information are the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

Read on to discover her helpful tips and be sure to tune into Monica + Andy’s Instagram live story every Monday and Thursday at 12on CST as Dr. Payal Adhikari will be back to answer your questions live and share her perspective on COVID-19 updates.

*Recorded via IGTV on March 23, 2020. Please note facts and recommendations are evolving daily.

Does the virus affect 3 and 4 year olds differently?
There’s no data that shows any difference whether your child is two or four. As we have seen, the virus is affecting children less seriously but still enough to be nervous. There was one death in China below the age of 12 and many ICU admissions as well both abroad and in the United States. Even though kids seem to be overall less of an issue for this virus—less so than the elderly or people with pre-existing conditions—we can’t say kids are completely safe, so please do be careful with them. Don’t go out with them as much if possible and wash their hands.

Is this virus airborne?
We’re not sure. As you guys have seen, there’s new data every day and some of it is contradictory. It’s best to be cautious. If someone is coughing in an area that you’re about to enter, don’t walk into that area. We talked about avoiding crowded elevators—try to avoid people, especially crowds as much as possible.

Which pre-natal appointments can I skip?
There are some visits that OBs are advising to skip or conduct via telemedicine, if your doctor’s office has that capability. Talk to your OB about what you’re both comfortable with. Being pregnant itself puts your body at more risk of diseases. It’s a slightly compromised state so be extra cautious.

Are there going to be hospital beds available for deliveries?
This is another OB-specific question but from what I’ve heard, I think from the OB side, they are trying to create a little more expectation so that they can know when the beds will be needed and not. Some hospitals are limiting the number of people that are coming into the delivery room. For example a spouse or significant other may not be allowed into the delivery room in an effort to keep mom, baby and hospital care personnel as safe as possible. Be aware of your expectations and this possibility.

Should we potty train during this time?
Sure! It’s a great time to encourage your kids to use the potty. One thing I’ve noticed with a lot of kids is that you want them to show interest in learning so try to talk it up. Get the potty seat that goes on the actual toilet, expose them and let them watch you go potty. Make it fun and if they start to show interest, this is a great time since you’re homebound anyway.

Another method you can try is to put them on the potty completely clothed. Let them get used to the idea of sitting on there without a lot of stress—read a book, sing a song and then really congratulate them for sitting. It’s a big step. If they seem comfortable, you can take down layers of clothing, take it down to the diaper and then if there’s a good opportunity, try to put them on with no pressure. If they seem resistant, stop. We never want them to feel negative about the potty.

I’m 34 weeks pregnant, should the family meet the baby?
No. There’s too much happening right now and the biggest piece of information that I’ve gathered from all the resources we have about coronavirus is that it can be asymptomatic, meaning people could be walking around completely well—no fevers, no runny nose, nothing and be transmitting the virus. We don’t want you or your baby to be getting sick so unfortunately for the time being, it’s going to be a lot of FaceTime, a lot of video chatting and zoom with loved ones.

What measures are pediatricians taking to stay safe for themselves and their patients?
At my clinic, Child & Adolescent Health Associates in the Gold Coast, we have stopped walk-in visits and are only conducting scheduled visits. Additionally, we’re not doing any sick visits in the afternoon, so the mornings are for sick visits and the afternoon is for well visits. We’ve also implemented telemedicine. Today I did multiple telemedicine visits with kids who had rashes or colds, etc. It’s limited as I can’t listen to their hearts or lungs and I can’t look in their ears or throats, so I’m not getting the full picture but it’s beneficial because we can limit their exposure. We don’t want them coming in or being out and about exposing themselves or others.

We have our child’s 3-year-old check up on April 9th? I assume we postpone until summer?
I agree. I don’t think it’s an essential visit. I would delay or see if your office has telemedicine capabilities. Err on the side of caution in terms of letting your kiddo stay home and safe.

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About Dr. Payal D. Adhikari, MD

Dr. Payal is a graduate of Northwestern University (BS) and Chicago Medical School (MD). She completed her pediatric residency at Rush Children’s Hospital, is board certified in Pediatrics and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She resides in Chicago with her husband and two little ones and is a regular digital contributor to Monica + Andy and teaches the Monica + Andy Newborn 101 class to expecting + new moms in Chicago.