The Benefits of Laughter

Families that laugh together tend to be happier, healthier and more supportive of one another. As busy as life can be, it’s important to build fun into family time. Whether it’s singing silly songs in the car or telling jokes around the dinner table, remember to take a moment to laugh with your kids. 

Kids appreciate the healing power of laughter at an early age. When your child cheers up a friend or makes a loved one laugh, they are displaying empathy and sympathy. Humor helps your child cope with stressful experiences and encourages them to be resilient by laughing at their mistakes. Making humor an everyday part of life makes for memorable moments with your children. Laughter adds years to your child’s life, strengthens relationships and increases overall happiness, even in stressful times. 

The saying is true, “laughter is the best medicine!” Laughter is a good distraction from negative emotions such as guilt, stress and anger. A sense of humor helps kids see things from a different perspective and boosts their overall mood. When your child hears laughing, they tend to start laughing too and everyone reaps the benefits! How does laughing affect the body? We will fill you in!   


Laughing not only feels good but is good for you! When you laugh, your body releases endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers. The release of endorphins helps with chronic pain and can improve your mood. 


Life can get overwhelming and stressful when balancing work, school, and family time. Laughter is a great coping mechanism when you’re feeling stressed. Letting out a belly laugh can start the day on a positive note and finish it on a relaxing one. 


Whether you let out a giggle or have tears running down your face from laughing so hard, laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies which improves resistance to disease. The more you laugh, the more your body will fight off stress reactions. 


Every time you laugh, you release more air as you breathe deeply. This action sends more oxygen into your lungs and helps your heart pump oxygen-rich blood throughout your body. An increase of oxygen encourages healthy cell growth and lets organs work more efficiently to help you feel your best. 


If you’re feeling tense after a long day, a few minutes of laughter can reduce tension in the body and make you feel calmer almost instantly. 

Setting aside time to laugh with your family is a healthy practice that benefits your body and mind. Before you know it, laughter will come more naturally, and you may find humor in situations or places you wouldn’t suspect! 


COVID-19 Vaccines Through the Eyes of a Pediatric Health Care Expert

As you consider getting your child vaccinated against COVID-19, you may find it difficult to process all the information circulating around vaccines. Fairhope Pediatrics is here to provide clarification and help you avoid misinformation as you consider vaccinating your child against COVID-19.

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The Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2021 and is an mRNA vaccine, which teaches our cells to make pieces of protein replicating the COVID-19 virus. Our bodies react to the mRNA vaccine by building up immunity to the specific protein. Once this occurs, if the body is exposed to COVID-19, the immune system will know how to fight it off and further reduce the chances of becoming infected or severely ill. This vaccine does not contain the live virus, which means it cannot give your child COVID-19. Just like adults, the vaccine requires two doses given three weeks apart and can be given at the same time as other vaccines (such as the flu vaccine).

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While children are still at a lower risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19, it doesn’t mean they can’t get sick. Children with underlying health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and asthma are at the highest risk for severe illness. For these reasons, it is important to receive a COVID-19 vaccine to reduce the risk of harmful disease, death and “long COVID,” a condition where individuals show the effects of COVID-19 for months after the initial infection.

The dosage of the COVID-19 vaccine for children ages five to 11 is one-third of what is used for adolescents and adults. The results of this dose mirror those seen in people ages 16 and older who received the higher dose of the vaccine. Additionally, side effects are similar including a sore arm, fatigue, muscle aches, headache, and fever. Typically, these side effects go away in a day or two and are signs the immune system is responding.

We understand medical information can sometimes be intimidating, but we are here to be a resource for you, your child, and your family. For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit

To schedule an appointment for your child or ask further questions, call 251.928.5568.

Screening Early for Developmental Delays

Did you know that one in six children between ages three and 17 have one or more developmental or behavioral disabilities?

According to the American Family Physician’s journal, less than one-fifth of children with developmental delays receive early intervention services and are unaware of their developmental disabilities. Developmental delays refer to a child who has not gained the developmental skills expected based on their age. For example, children learn to crawl, talk, or become potty trained at different speeds. Sometimes a child may reach those milestones at a later age. To help diagnose developmental delays early, our practice utilizes the CHADIS platform.

CHADIS is a web-based screening, diagnostic, and management system that administers and analyzes pre-visit questionaries completed by parents, teens, and/or teachers. It also allows you to list any problems, questions, or concerns that you would like to discuss before your child’s appointment. This online survey provides our practice with instant access to valuable clinical data and resources needed to deliver the highest quality of care to our patients. It also gives our providers time to review these assessments prior to your visit for the benefit of making potential recommendations, ask further questions, or discuss additional concerns.

It is proven that physicians who implement tools like CHADIS detect more children with developmental delays than physicians who do not use standardized screening. CHADIS screens for hundreds of developmental factors, including autism, asthma, ADHD, depression and other mood disorders, OCD, substance abuse, somatic complaints, family stress, dyskinesia, and PTSD – to name a few.

At Fairhope Pediatrics, we begin conducting standardized developmental screenings on patients as early as two months old and again at each routine wellness visit. Developmental screening can help highlight important milestones children achieve as they grow and identifies your child’s strengths and uncover areas of concern. Screening is not meant to establish a diagnosis for a child, but to help determine whether a more in-depth assessment is needed. After each assessment, our practice works with families to understand your child’s condition and discuss treatment plans moving forward.

By utilizing CHADIS assessments, we are able to understand your child’s development based on age and resources available to them. Once we know your child’s starting point, CHADIS allows us to track their progress and improvements over time.

Countless studies have shown the earlier a delay or disability is recognized, and intervention has begun, the greater the child’s chance of substantial improvement. Therefore, developmental screening is one of the best proactive steps to ensure a child’s success.

Additionally, most insurances cover CHADIS and completing the online forms in advance reduces in-office wait times for patients. It is our policy for all caregivers to complete CHADIS assessments 24 hours before your child’s visit, or cancellation will occur.

For more information about the benefits of CHADIS and developmental screening, visit the CHADIS website, or give our office a call at 251.928.5568.

Let’s Talk: Healthy Habits for the New Year

New year, new family habits! This month, take time to set goals the entire family can participate in. Our pediatrician-approved healthy habits are attainable goals your family can set and maintain throughout 2022 and beyond.

1. Snack smart.

It’s time to leave processed snacks behind. Snacks such as cookies and sodas have zero health benefits and make learning more difficult for children. Instead, make it a point to improve brain function and overall health by selecting various whole foods for your child’s snacks and lunches.

2. Eat together.

Although weekdays can be busy and oftentimes stressful, we encourage you to enjoy quality moments as a family during mealtime. It is important to leave stress behind and not rush when sitting down at the table. Prioritizing mealtime allows everyone to focus on a healthy meal and open conversations.

3. Turn off electronics.

While watching TV as a family is easy and relaxing, crafts, volunteering, and board games promote conversations and allow everyone to contribute. Spark traditions, laughter, and memories through tangible bonds by taking time away from electronics.

4. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude.

Set up a time before bed, at the end of dinner, or on the way to school where everyone can reflect on what they are grateful for. Sharing each family member’s appreciation for life brings positive energy and self-reflection into the daily routine.

5. Participate in daily physical activities.

Daily physical activity lowers the risk of heart attacks, strokes and diabetes, while walks improve mood and memory. To keep kids engaged and encouraged, find activities that align with your child’s interests and model positive attitudes surrounding physical activity.

6. Get quality sleep.

Aim for early bedtimes and establish a consistent routine of winding down. Take time to relax and recharge by incorporating mindful practices or calm reading time before bed, to reduce and manage stress together. Additionally, consider removing electronics from the bedroom at night.

7. Be proactive with health care.

Stay on top of your family’s health by scheduling annual checkups and doctor appointments in advance. These appointments monitor growth and behavior vital to your child’s wellbeing.

Establish a framework of the categories you want to focus on in 2022. Involve your children when developing new family habits, allowing your kids to understand the benefits of each practice, feel involved in the process, and get motivated to maintain the new goals. Finally, post your family’s 2022 healthy habits somewhere at home where everyone can see and reflect on them.

Our Pediatric Approved Gift Guide

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…again! Don’t panic, at Fairhope Pediatrics we have you covered with our pediatric approved gift guide. Although high-ticket items are popular buys, it is important we remember your child’s specific developmental needs. Trust us, we got Santa’s approval!

Infants (0-1 Years):

In the first year, your baby will reach vital milestones in development, and the right toys can make all the difference. With every developmental stage comes new toys to carry your baby into the next stage. Sensory gifts are an excellent choice for babies in the early stages of development. Toys that encourage standing and crawling are perfect for your child during this stage. We recommend reflective toys, textured books, and interactive play mats.

Toddlers (2-3 Years):

Toddlers need a present that challenges their fine motor skills. Puzzles, blocks, and simple books make great gifts this holiday season. You may notice your child at this age beginning to step into the world of “pretend,” or some may begin to mimic your everyday tasks. A play kitchen and food or cars and trucks serve as an early lesson in how to “help” around the house!

Preschoolers (3-5 Years):

Your preschoolers will benefit from any gift that allows them to use their imagination! In this stage, your child can focus for longer periods of time, so magazine or box subscriptions are a fun and unique gift. Crayons, paint, and other art supplies encourage your preschooler’s creative side to run wild. Outdoor toys, dress-up clothes and classic board games are all things that will have your child’s mind thinking and body moving.

Elementary Schoolers (6-8 Years):

They are making a list and checking it twice! Although your child will have specific buys this holiday season, let’s not forget items that will engage mental, physical, and social skills. If your child has you stumped, hobbies and interests are always a great place to start. Art sets, bikes (accompanied by a helmet), and kits that can be completed independently or with friends are all great gifts for children in this age group.

Pre-Teens (9-12 Years):

Shopping for your pre-teen can be tough. Moving away from traditional toys, small gadgets are probably what your not-so-small but also not-quite-so-big kid has at the top of their list this holiday season. Give your pre-teen the gift of being unplugged with board games, sports equipment, or DIY kits. Reading is a key player at this stage, so we also suggest books, magazines, and journals, which stimulate your child’s imagination, improve communication skills, and grow their vocabulary.

Teenagers (13-17 Years):

Teenagers aren’t always forthcoming with exactly what they want. At this age, your child is truly growing into their own, so the best gift will be one that aligns with their interests and grows their confidence through self-expression. Catering to your teens’ tech and fashionable side will bring a much-needed smile to their faces. From portable speakers and projectors to sunglasses and sneakers, the perfect gift for your teen may be easier to find than you think.

Young Adults (18-21 Years):

Where did the years go? Your once little one is now graduating and onto the next steps in life. To help make this transition smoother we suggest items with more sentimental value. Trust us, your young adult will forever appreciate it.

As you race to your nearest department store or start an Amazon shopping cart, please remember to check each gift’s age specifications and warnings. Fairhope Pediatrics hopes you have a happy holiday!

How To Celebrate Thanksgiving With Food Allergies

Thanksgiving is almost here, and we could not be more thankful! Did you know 8% of children and 5% of adults have food allergies? Food allergies can be hard to avoid, especially during a food-filled holiday. At Fairhope Pediatrics, we are here to help you prepare and stay away from preventable food allergy accidents!

Plan ahead.

If you are planning to cook at home, reach out and ask guests and family members if they have food allergies or sensitivities. Planning early allows you to research safe recipes to properly accommodate guests. The most common food allergy groups include milk/dairy, fish, shellfish, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, gluten, and soy. Many traditional recipes can be made to accommodate these food allergies with just a few simple substitutions.

Avoid cross contamination.

If the holiday menu consists of dishes that are not safe for everyone, cook the “safe” meal first to avoid cross contamination. Residue from the first dish cooked can still be present on cooking utensils, causing the meal to be unsafe to others. Wash pans, utensils, and other cookware extensively in hot water. Wipe countertops, and anywhere else you have prepared or cooked food. This will prevent any bits of dried allergens from sticking to dishes or countertops.

Serve it separate.

Consider letting individuals with food allergies serve themselves first. This limits their risk of being exposed to any food allergens present in “unsafe” dishes. If you plan to serve the meal buffet-style, create ingredient labels to help guests distinguish allergen-free dishes. Isolate “safe” foods from the rest of the meal and use separate serving utensils for each dish.


If you are planning to eat out for Thanksgiving, view the restaurant’s menu ahead of time to make sure there is food accommodating to you. Many restaurants have allergen sheets available for people who struggle with food sensitivities. If you are making a reservation, inform restaurant staff of your food allergies when you call and let your server know upon arrival.

Pre-package food.

If you are not in charge of the menu this holiday season, bring pre-made food to ensure you do not go hungry and you are eating safely. Offer to cook a “safe” dish that you and the rest of the family can enjoy. Bring the food in a closed container and keep it away from other dishes until it’s time to eat.

No matter what your Thanksgiving looks like this year, a little planning and consideration will help you to successfully navigate a food-friendly meal and maybe create a new tradition in the process. We hope you have a safe and full holiday season. Happy Thanksgiving!

Your Pediatrician’s Guide to Halloween: Trick-or-Treating Safety.

Mummies and monsters are the least of your worries on Halloween when cars, costumes, COVID-19, and stranger danger can give you a fright. To keep Halloween on a sweet note, a little preplanning and precaution can keep each family member safe and smiling. Before your big night out, review our pediatrician-approved list of Halloween safety tips.

Costume Safety

Plan eerie-sistible costumes that are bright and reflective. 

A bright-colored costume will make your child more visible at twilight. Decorate the outside of your child’s outfit and trick-or-treat bag with strips of reflective tape. Consider having your children wear glowsticks as bracelets or necklaces to keep it bright.

Check that costumes are easy to walk in and don’t restrict breathing or vision.

Test out costumes before the big night and ensure they are short enough to prevent tripping and entanglement. We recommend costumes having hems above the ground and allow for a full range of motion. Confirm hats and shoes fit properly so your little monster can see correctly and is comfortable on their Halloween journey.

Make certain accessories aren’t a safety hazard.

If your child is going as a superhero, warrior princess, or anything with a pointy accessory like a broom or sword, make sure to choose one made of soft foam instead of hard plastic.

Look for “flame resistant” on the costume labels. 

Wigs, costumes, and accessories should indicate that they are flame resistant. For homemade costumes, stay away from flammable fabrics such as nylon and polyester.

Look for nontoxic makeup and face paint. 

Nontoxic makeup and face paint are excellent substitutes to costume masks that are known to restrict vision. Test makeup ahead of time on a small patch of your child’s skin to guarantee there are no allergic reactions.

Prepare for the unexpected.

Put a nametag on your child’s costume along with your phone number and address. Make sure they know where the nametag is in case your child is separated from their group.

Street Safety

Watch out for your little pumpkin.

An adult should accompany children under 12 years old trick-or-treating. Before heading out, review how to call 911 in case of an emergency. While trick-or-treating, your child should know to look twice both ways before crossing the street and continue to look as they cross.

Set expectations with older children.

Teamwork makes the scream work! Make sure your child is in a group of at least three friendly ghosts and only travel to homes with a porch light on. Before sending them on their way, plan and review a trick-or-treating route that is acceptable to you. Agree on specific times when your child should check in throughout the night and return home. Don’t forget to send them with a fully charged cell phone for quick communication and flashlights!

“Witches know how to drive stick”– Pedestrian safety. 

Pedestrian injury is the most common injury to children on Halloween. Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk. If no sidewalks are available, remind your witches and warlocks to walk on the far edge of the roadway facing traffic and in a single file line.


Candy Safety

Keep an eye on what your trick-or-treater has in their mouth at all times.

Hard candies, popcorn, and gum can be choking hazards for small children. If your child has allergies that need an EpiPen, bring it with you. For those with older kids, teach your child’s friends how to use it in case of an emergency.

Beware before goblin.

It is always a good idea to inspect your child’s treats before letting them “bone appetite!” Throw away any spoiled, unwrapped, or suspicious items.

Treat yourself for the days and weeks following Halloween and try to ration candy. 

Set realistic, positive guidelines with your child so everyone knows what to expect after the holiday. It’s also an excellent opportunity to teach your goblins about moderation and healthy eating!

COVID-19 Safety

Squad ghouls, but keep them small!

Stick to outdoor Halloween events and trick-or-treating with small groups. Ensure your children know to avoid large clusters of kids at doorsteps. Encourage your kids to incorporate their face mask into their costume or dress up as something that uses one. Apply hand sanitizer when going from house to house, or when you are in contact with an individual that is not a part of your immediate family.


Fairhope Pediatrics wishes you and your family a fang-tastic Halloween! 

Let’s Talk: Potty Training

As your baby grows into a toddler and beyond, there are many ways they will become more independent. While reaching milestones can be exciting, potty training might require more of your patience and attention.

Every child is different, so it can be tricky to know which potty-training approach will work best for your child. In order to successfully teach your child good bathroom habits, they must first be able to sense the urge to go, understand what this feeling means, and verbalize it.

For help on beginning your child’s bathroom journey, we have compiled a list of tips and tricks to encourage your child to go.

  1. Make sure your child is ready. Try not to rush the process and start training too early, before your little one has the ability to achieve success.
  2. Buy “big kid” underwear as a sign of encouragement. Explain to your child that once they learn how to use the potty, they can wear the fun, big kid underwear.
  3. Get your child involved in choosing the potty. Shopping for a potty chair or seat together will allow your child to feel more included and create excitement when using their new potty.
  4. Create a potty-training song. If your child seems nervous about using the potty, musical encouragement can help them feel more relaxed and get into the groove.
  5. Don’t punish mistakes. Although potty training struggles can be frustrating at times, resist the urge to get angry or punish your toddler. Instead, let them know it is okay and they can try again later.

Keep in mind, the order and speed for each of these skills to be mastered may differ from child to child. It is impossible to compare one child to another when determining if their progress is “normal.”

Do not get discouraged throughout this process. Your child will make progress and use the potty when they are ready! For more tips and tricks on how to incite potty-training habits in your child, click here.

Vaccinations: What You Need to Know

While many parents spend this time of year focusing on school supplies and uniforms, they often forget to add vaccinations to their to-do list.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state of Alabama has seen a drastic decrease in pediatric well visits and routine immunization appointments being scheduled. We encourage parents to stay on top of their child’s vaccine schedule to ensure the upcoming year is as safe and healthy as possible. Below is a list of the recommended immunizations for all age groups.

At Fairhope Pediatrics, we suggest checking with your child’s school (if applicable) to see what immunizations are required. Additionally, insurance often covers overhead costs. It is important to confirm these details with your provider and schedule an appointment today!

Questions? Call our office at 251.928.5568 or

Water Fun and Safety in the Sun!

Is your child afraid of the water? We have solutions!

Summer is the best time to get your children acclimated to the water. For younger kids, water may seem scary due to its unknown touch and feel, and the thought of being submerged in liquid can be alarming.

Check out our tips below on how to help your child feel safe while being in and around the water this summer!

Start Young: Beginning aquatic survival lessons for your infant (as young as six months old) will help them become comfortable around the water at an early age. Infant swim lessons offer a great opportunity for your child to learn more about how their body moves and to be aware of the space around them. This awareness is important in developing their fine and gross motor skills. Swim lessons for babies can be instrumental to their growth and development, and the earlier they begin, the better results they will have.

Use Bath Time to Your Advantage: The bath is the best place to begin nurturing a love of being in the water, while building comfort and confidence. When taking baths, practice getting your child’s face wet and blowing bubbles under water. If your child is reluctant to get their face wet, start by squeezing a sponge or washcloth over their head and let water trickle down the face. Keep toys close by in the tub. This creates an atmosphere of fun while being in the water.

Start Lessons Early: When searching for swim lessons for your child, look for a program that provides a patient environment, skilled instructors, and quick and effective results. Remember, every child develops differently! Do not compare your child’s abilities to other children’s and instead focus on their growth and achievements along the way.

Join In on the Fun: Don’t be afraid to get in the water and help your child learn! Seeing a familiar face in the water will help build trust and confidence. Use this time to review what your child has learned in swim lessons through repetition and consistency. Provide your child with a routine of going under water to practice blowing bubbles. Depending on your child’s skill set, allow them to explore independently while being an arm’s length away.

It is important to keep in mind that all water environments are different. Never let your child swim without supervision, no matter how comfortable they may seem in the water. Accidents happen. To learn more about water safety and swimming tips, visit the links below:

For any questions or concerns, call our office at 251.928.5568. Happy swimming!