Kids don’t come with a guidebook? In Episode One of Season 2 of the Healthy Matters Podcast we have the next best thing – Dr. Krishnan Subrahmanian, pediatrician at Hennepin Healthcare! We talk about RSV and other viral illnesses, early childhood development, reading and language development, and how to access your child’s pediatrician. (Warning: This is snot an episode for those who get queasy hearing the word “booger.”)

Dr. Krish – as he often is called – was a high school special education teacher before he became a pediatrician.

“The kids were incredible. They were amazing. They inspired me. They made me think, they challenged me. And I honestly loved my job as a special education teacher. My hats and heart go off to all the special education teachers out there. They do incredible work.”

This love of learning spills over into his work as a pediatrician, and Dr. Krish’s interest in brain development – especially at an early age.

“Actually 90 to 95% of brain development – neuronal connections – has happened by the age of five,” he explains. “And it leads us to think, ‘wait a minute, what are we doing in those early years to help support that brain development to get kids off to the best start?’ What this means is that even pre-birth in utero, brain development is starting, and neuronal connections in those first few months and years of life are growing every day.”

Dr. Krish explains how playing with children, talking to children, and singing with children helps form a brain that is more able to learn, more able to grow, and sets them up for success for the rest of their lives.

“There’s a type of interaction called serve and return learning,” he shared. “It’s the kind of thing that you see folks do all the time. ‘Hey, baby, how you doing? How’s it going?’ And then waiting for that little response, that smile or that cue back from the baby. That kind of communication pattern, giving a little bit to the baby, waiting for the return and, and ensuring that we do that repeatedly, really does help form brain connections and can begin right from the very moment that they join your family.”

While Dr. Krish and I talk about ways to relieve nasal congestion, reduce fever, and when to bring your child in to be seen by a physician he also gives this piece of advice for the well-being of children, which is very worthy of sharing:

“The greatest tool and gift we have for little babies and kids is an adult who loves them, is an adult who cares for them, is an adult who’s investing their time and energy. If you can spend yourself, your time, your energy, that will make the biggest difference.”

Wise words indeed. Thanks for listening to Episode One of Season 2 of the Healthy Matters Podcast!