Leave it to a singing pediatrician to take the fear out of going to the doctor.
Dr. Pete Richel, 56, affectionately known as “Dr. Pete,” has been singing to his patients for 22 years. His recent original songs like “Tyrus the Virus,” and “Is there Strep Below,” have both soothed and educated children when they have come to his Mount Kisco office for check-ups and sick visits.
Dr. Richel, who is currently the Chief of the Department of Pediatrics at , said he has been singing all his life and had even considered a career in the theater.
“I love children and decided to go into medicine, but I continued singing—to my patients—which has made them less afraid of doctors, nurses, and even shots,” he said. In 2008, with musician Gary Fry, he released a CD of catchy and educational songs, entitled Welcome to Dr. Pete’s Office.
This month, the busy Katonah resident and father of two daughters has a new book out, Happy & Healthy: A Wellness Journal of Baby’s First Year.
It is a paperback guide that outlines what parents should expect during their baby’s first year of life. Despite the glut of what-to-expect books and web-based information already available to new parents, Dr. Richel felt his book could offer some basic advice that would be useful.
“I wrote this as if I were speaking with the wonderful families that I have been seeing for over twenty years,” he said. “I try to empower parents and give them informative and practical information.”
The book explores questions about topics like what to expect from wellness visits, baby’s feeding schedules, the signs and symptoms of minor versus major illnesses, sleeping habits, developmental milestones and many others.
Reflecting on his experience with families over the last two decades, Dr. Richel said that he feels that parents today have the same joy and love of their children as they always have had, but the current culture breeds a bit too much anxiety over doing everything perfectly.
“Some parents both over-book and under-discipline their children, out of love and good intentions, of course—and this can lead to tired/cranky children and entitled children, respectively,” he observed.
As the popular pediatrician continues to educate and entertain kids and families with his music, videos, through a national Sirius Radio Show called On Call for Kids and through his books (a children’s book Magical Medical Instruments is in the works), he offers the following advice:
“Relax, don't Google too much, rely upon family and friends for support and rely upon your pediatrician for current, state of the art medical advice, he said.
With so much information out there, many myths and wives’ tales get passed on when it comes to the medical and psycho-social development of kids, he added.
"I want to be a source of education and affirmation for parents.”