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Child Psychology Blogs

Concerned About Unconventional Mental Health Interventions?

Concerned About Unconventional Mental Health Interventions?
Alternative Psychotherapies: Evaluating Unconventional Mental Health Treatments

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Trouble Publishing and Replying on Eye Contact

Terri and Svetlana--  I am having difficulty publishing your comments and my replies. I'll work on this, but maybe there are just too many comments on that post? You might want to try sending comments to this post.



  1. Dear Dr. Mercer,

    I try posting my original question here: I just copy-paste it from the original feed.
    Once again, thank you!

    Dear Dr. Mercer,
    I wrote you some weeks ago about my son being more attached to my husband. I found your advice very helpful and your blog generally
    very informative. I have so many questions regarding child development but try not to bother you with each of them. However, there is one more thing that I decided to ask you about. Our son is now 17 weeks old. I think he is developing normally, especially socially, unlike many parents here, I don't worry about eye contact ect. I think he is a rather good tempered baby. The thing is I am not nursing, as he didn't suck well and we have to supplement with formula quite early, gradually he was getting less and less breast milk, and is now fully bottle fed. The feeding issue was quite a struggle from the beginning, first the nursing didn't work, then we had troubles finding the right type of bottle, etc. I imagine feeding should be a relaxing time and also something soothing. For our son it was often accompanied by crying , although food eventually does calm him down. And as I said, he is not a particularly fussy baby, but these food issues always upset him. Although in the meantime we have perfected the system of feeding, make sure that there is always a bottle ready etc, he often ends up crying while the formula is being heated, or afterwards probably because he is upset the food is over. I have to say I feel bad about not nursing and every time he cries related to food, I feel like I failed. Which happens several times a day and happened tonight, which lead to me writing this. He is the type of a baby who wants to be held all the time, which is really the only "difficult" thing about him, and we do have a lot of physical contact, but the feeding just isn't what- I imagine- it should be. My question: I know this is quite hypothetical, but can this disadvantegous feeding situation have some pernanent effect on him? Is there anything I could do to make it better? I have been working on controling my emotions when he is crying, but I still get very stressed about it, which certainly doesn't make it better. (Today, I also met a friend who has a baby and is nursing him, and I realized again what a powerful soothing instrument that is that I miss.) I realize this question might sound wierd but I spend a lot of time thinking about it and would really appreciate your opinion.
    As I said before, I find your blog and especially your willingness to answer these questions extraordinarly great! Svetlana

    1. Oh good, you found my message!

      I don't think you need to worry about your "food fights" having a bad effect in the long run, but they sound pretty wearing for both of you.

      I can see that he may be temperamentally an intense kind of guy and very ready to make his complaints loud and clear. I don't know that nursing would have been more satisfactory for him, necessarily.Though it does seem to be soothing for most babies, there are some who will still kick up a fuss while at the breast, or may refuse one breast or the other under certain circumstances.It may be his intense reactions that made it hard for him to organize sucking and to wait while the milk let down, because the breast does not just let the milk flow out right away the way an artificial nipple does.

      I am wondering whether he needs you to do more than you are presently doing in terms of organizing the environment to help create a relaxed feeding situation. For example, you may want to dim the lights, have quiet music playing, and rock slowly while you offer the bottle. His liking to be held so much may indicate that he can use physical contact or other things in the environment to come to a relaxed state,which he needs to do in order to suck and swallow well. This would all be related to his own basic temperament, not to the results of his experiences so far.

      I also feel concerned about the way you are being affected by the feeding problems. I think that like many new mothers you are experiencing some degree of depression and anxiety, that makes you blame yourself for any problems and also worry a great deal about harm to the baby. Is there anyone you can discuss this with? Did your OB ask you to do a depression screening questionnaire? If not,you might ask him or her about evaluation for depression and referral for treatment if you need it.

      Good luck, and I hope things look better soon!

  2. Dear Dr. Mercer,
    thank you so much for your reply. Again, many things you say seem to be true. He really is an "intense" child, not specially fussy, rather good tempered, but yes, everything he does is strong: he likes to look around all the time, he needs a lot of "activity", carrying, showing him stuff etc., and yes, when he screams, then it's intense, too. I really think this plays a role. I am indeed trying some of the things you suggested. It is not easy because his hunger comes suddenly and loudly, so that everything has to go fast and there isn't much time to dim lights etc. it is always kind of an emergency. But yes, I am trying to hold him and rock him and talk softly to him, and this seem to be soothing. I will keep doing that, really what worried me is the effect on his mental health (I think I am affected by reading too much about early experience affecting the future). I also often get frustrated, I think just from being tired, and I guess I act nervous around the baby, and then again I keep ruminating about how that will influence him. As for anxiety, it's partly my personality, I am generally anxious , but yes, having a child makes it worse. As I said, I find this blog really helpful. I can't tell you how much I am thankful for your advice (it's not just a phrase)!

    1. I think the outcome for him will probably have more to do with his temperament than it has with these feeding experiences. However, I do hope you can get some help about your anxiety, which must be very uncomfortable-- and although I would not say it "ruins" you as a mother, it certainly is not making matters easier for anyone!

      Good luck, and thanks for the kind words--