change the world badge

change the world badge


Child Psychology Blogs

Concerned About Unconventional Mental Health Interventions?

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

Friday, November 18, 2016

More Queries About Baby Eye Contact

I think nobody reads instructions! Even though I've asked people not to post queries on my first "eye contact" post, they still try to do that--  and there are so many on there already that more cannot be posted. So, let me start yet another page for these questions, and I hope the writers will find this. Here's one to begin with.

Kanza Sharjeel has left a new comment on your post "Eye Contact With Babies: What, When, Why, and How":

Hello doc
Mu son who was sga botn at 36 weeks started his eye contact at 3.5 months . Now he is 5.5 months and no babbling as yet.. Just ooo and aaa
He has just started rollinh.
I think he doesn't recognid me. He doesn't know thst i m his mother.
He looks at me wen i cal husname
But when i cal my name in a loud voice he looks at me too. Dors this mean that he doesn't know his name?
He also doesn't etend his arms as a way of saying that he needs to b picked up

Also he has just started grabing objects and mouthing them
Mu nephew is alao autistic 
Dear Kanza-- If your son was not only small for gestational age but born at 36 weeks, you should not expect him to be doing these things at the same times that a full-term baby would do. He does not sound as if he is very different in his development from a one-month-younger full term baby, He is not yet old enough to prefer familiar people, so although he may "know" you, it isn't yet important to him that one person rather than another cares for him.

Responding to the name does not usually happen until about 6 months, so he has a while to go before you would expect that. I think it's an excellent sign that he pays attention when you raise your voice-- he has learned that it's important to pay attention to the way people talk, even though he doesn't understand words yet. It's good that he is cooing, and babbling will probably start in the next month or so. I would expect him to be sitting up before he put his arms up as a signal to pick him up.

I understand why you are worried, but it seems to me that he is doing reasonably well. The best thing you can do for him is to pay attention carefully to any signals he gives you, and to try to talk to him or play with him in ways that interest him-- notice whether his eyes brighten and he seems attentive when you do something, and keep on with whatever that was for a few minutes.

Good luck to your family!


  1. Dr. Mercer, I am posting here because I didn't know how else to reach you. I thought you might be interested in a story out of Livingston County Michigan. Parents Eric and Angela Corcoran were found guilty of child abuse of their adopted son, formerly their foster son. It was rather ground breaking because the conviction was based primarily on the fact that they isolated this child (age 12-15) to a basement bedroom without a bathroom. He was able to exit the basement/house through a side door, but the door to the main floor (rest of the home, inc. kitchen, bathroom, etc) was locked unless another family member let him in (mom, dad, 2 siblings that were the bio children of parents). His meals were left at the top of the stairs and he ate alone, what was described as "different food" than the rest of the family consumed. He was physically harmed (bruised), though not severely, one time by the mom. Another time his sister pointed a loaded gun at him and ordered his friend to leave the home (he did have friends from reg. public school). The father did make the sister apologize for the gun incident. The child said the father was nice to him, generally, except for enforcing the isolation. The defense offered by the parents was that the boy was "violent" and "stole" from them and "killed the family cat", thus,they were simply protecting their family from him. Later it was also said that he "killed a frog" and kept its remains in a box. This case sounded like other cases of foster/adopted kids being killed/harmed and then blamed by the parents. The jury decided that the isolation imposed on the child constituted severe cruelty and noted the disparity in treatment towards their bio children (whom they went on lavish vacation cruises with and sent the boy to "respite" care). I have not yet been able to discover what sentence was imposed. I was pleased that they were found guilty for behavior that so many others are not even charged for. The defense acted like, "He had a basement bedroom, so what? He wasn't locked down there." It was nice to see a jury recognize emotional abuse as a crime without requiring physical abuse to also be proven.

    1. This seems to be the page for comments that don't fit elsewhere! I would have started a new page for you but thought you might not see it. The material about this is certainly vague-- in the transcript they seem to be saying that he tried to kill the cat, but people commenting seem to assume that he actually did kill it. I agree that it's a good thing to get these people convicted (for a change) and I would point to the definitions of types of child abuse given on the National Incidence Study of Child abuse and Neglect to show that confining him and isolating him are both examples of abuse, although not directly physically harmful. As for the disparity in treatment, certainly that is undesirable, but I don't think there has been any "official" statement about this-- although it could count as isolation, I suppose.

      A point that is rarely mentioned is that the other children are endangered when encouraged or allowed to abuse the target child. A family in which a girl threatens with a loaded gun, and is simply made to apologize, is one in which that girl's development is threatened with distortion by having such behavior accepted as normal. In a case some years ago, a mother enlisted the help of a 7-yer-old daughter in forcing a younger child to drink excessive amounts of water. The younger child died, and in the indictment of the mother was included her endangerment of the 7-year-old through her actions.

      It would be so helpful if we could know whether this was "common-or-garden" abuse or whether advice from Nancy Thomas was involved.

  2. Hello sir,my baby is ten months old born four weeks early ,actually I have monozygotic twin one was iud,he is very happy ,have a great eye contact,laughs,giggles,follow my simple commands like clapping ,hello,have both separation and stranger anxiety ,find hidden objects. But my little concern is because of that few days ago he started saying papa but now he stops .he babble some words like ba ga mm but doesn't say papa,is he not autistic. .I am so much tensed about it otherwise he is very active baby

    1. Dear Arun-- I hope you find this answer here. I had to move your comment because there is no more room for comments on the page you used.

      I don't think there is any reason in what you described to be concerned about autism in your baby. Although it is true that autistic children may lose language ability, this is usually evident after they have developed much more speech. It is really common that babies do things once, or even for a day or two, and then don't do them any more for quite a while, after which they develop the ability in a more permanent way. For example, you might see a child stand alone for a little while at 8 months, then not do it again until 11 months. In any case, your baby is still making speech sounds, even if they are not recognizable words, so I doubt that this is evidence of autism. Good luck, and I expect he will be saying Papa again quite soon!