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Concerned About Unconventional Mental Health Interventions?

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

Monday, December 12, 2016

Another Eye Contact Query

People keep sending comments to a much earlier post on this subject-- but there have been so many that no more fit on that page. Here is a recent one of these.

Hi Dr Mercer,
I have a 4 month old baby girl that was born 3 weeks early. Had a rough delivery with forceps and she was bradycardic for 8 min.he had mild hypotonia in her arms.
We are very worried as she has not made any eye contact with us yet or smiled at us. She started tracking objects around 3 months, but She doesn't seem interested in anything in particular. She bats at objects but can't grab them yet. Has good control of her head but has not rolled over yet(and doesn't really seem interested in trying). Pediatrician is concerned and went to see a ped neurologist but they say it's early at this age to say anything. I still feel like they must be something that can be done to see why she what is wrong with her.
Any advice?
Thank you so much 

Dear Unknown--

Her corrected age is just over 3 months, so it is not surprising that she has not rolled over and can't yet grab things. It's a good sign that she bats at objects, because this shows that she has at least some vision. The head control is also good. I'm not surprised that you are concerned about the lack of smiling by this age. However, please keep in mind that many babies who have a rough start do catch up in growth and development.

I understand how frightening and frustrating this situation must be for you, but the neurologist is right in saying that she is too young to get a clear picture of what, if anything, is wrong.

But while you wait to see the outcome, you can work with her to help support her ongoing development. Do your best to show her a smiling and interested face-- try not to look anxious or stressed when you are face to face with her. Make sure that when you look at her, there is a bright enough light on your face so she can see your features even if she has some vision loss. Don't give up if something you do (big smile, for instance) doesn't seem to get her attention--  do it several more times. Sometimes you can get a baby's attention by "looming"-- move your face toward her while you open your mouth wide, then move away while you close your mouth. In addition, you can combine several sensory events to get her interest by talking or singing while you look at her and tapping or rubbing her hands or feet. There's nothing magic here-- I'm just suggesting that you may be able to draw her into an interaction by giving her more complex stimulation.

It's true that you will have to wait for an accurate assessment, but you and she are not in suspended animation. You can still do things that will give her the best chance for good development. If you notice even a small response, keep on doing whatever seems to get her interested.

By the way, you should be sure to put away your phone and all screens when you're with her so you aren't distracted by them.

Good luck to your family, and I hope to hear in 6 months that she has made great progress!


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