September 02, 2008,
E.M. asks from Austin, TX on August 26, 2008
Interaction with 3 Month Old Infant Who Makes Little Eye Contact
My little girl is just over 3 months and I am a first time mom. I have 0 experience with babies. How much am I supposed to be interacting with her through the day? I want to help her grow physically and mentally, but I don't want to be "in her face" all the time. Because lately when I am trying to talk to her and "play" with her she looks over her shoulder the whole time and won't make any eye contact. That makes me think I am overwhelming her and she can't handle it. Is that normal? She looks at her toys and smiles. Everything I read says that my face is supposed to be the most exciting and inspiring thing in her world, but she won't really look directly at me or my husband very much. I really don't know how to interact with her as she gets older and how much to let her "play" hang out on her own?
N.D. answers from Austin on August 27, 2008
M.T. answers from Austin on September 02, 2008
Hello! Congrats on your new baby girl!! I too have a new baby around your daughters same age. She is 4 months now. I was thinking about your posting today while I was doing a yoga workout with her, so I thought I would share my thoughts on your question. I have had the same thoughts as you about interaction with my daughter. How much time should she spend exploring on her own, and how much should I spend interacting directly with her? What I have found to work out best is to follow her lead. She is really good about telling me when she wants to play or when she is sick of me being in her face. When she is bored with me but it is not quite nap time I will put her in the BabyBjorn front carrier and do things around the house or take a walk outside.
For playtime with her one thing we do daily is a yoga work out! I bought this great DVD from Parents that is a mom and baby yoga/pilates workout. She used to stare at the TV when we would practice the workout, but now she focuses on me and really enjoys the interaction. Plus it give me a much needed workout! It is so much fun! An added bonus is that she is exhausted at the end and always takes a wonderful nap afterwards.
Like the others who responded said, she will tell you when she is done by looking away or arching her back. If my daughter does this and needs alone time I will lay out a blanket on the floor and put out a few toys for her and do other things around the room while she is playing by herself (which is usually around 15 minutes tops.)
Sometimes when she is looking all around and I am craving some eye contact with her I will sing her a song. For some reason, Row Row Row Your Boat or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star make her stop whatever she is doing (even crying!) and stare deep into my eyes and then start laughing.
Have fun with your new baby girl!
P.H. answers from Austin on August 27, 2008
A baby who is overstimulated may look away to signal needing a change of pace or some quiet time. When she is well rested, well fed & ready to "play" try leaning her back on your legs facing you and just sit quietly and mimic back to her any sound she makes first. Babies love this! They find out through this game that you are listening and that they have the power of communication and can make something happen. Experiment with quiet sounds and see what ones she likes and play that sound/reaction game with her. She may be very sensitive and not like lots of crazy baby talk or wild toys that make noise.
Do share your concerns with her doctor, maybe get her hearing checked out, etc. But very likely you just need to figure out what kind of games she likes. Don't feel like because you are a first time mom you don't know what to do...you are here asking for help, so you are in tune with your "mommy self" as you should be! Every baby is different, and it's all about finding out what works for you and baby. She'll tell you, as she already has with her subtle cues, and you picked up on it right away, so feel confident in yourself about that. We are all figuring it out as we go with our kids. I have three and usually feel way more clueless now than I did at the beginning! :)
Take good care of yourself and enjoy your baby.
P. (mom to three boys!)
S.Y. answers from Austin on August 27, 2008
Sounds like she's just noticing other things.
Brand new babies cannot distinguish shapes very well at first so she might just now be noticing all of the other wonderful things around her -- you say she smiles when she sees one of her toys. Next time she does that, pick up the toy and hold it up for her to touch/feel/smell, etc.
I used to carry my babies around the house and let them feel the curtains, look out the window, touch the grass outside, listen to a barking dog. I also made lots of cooing sounds to them. They loved it. The sound of keys on a key chain was also fascinating to them.
Bottom line is that she needs more than just your face. Some babies are just not as focused on people as they are "things".
D.J. answers from Austin on August 27, 2008
Congratulations on your new daughter! At 3 months old, babies really don't need to "hang out on their own" very much. That's sort of an American culture myth. They're still very new and need lots of parent interaction. She is just learning about her world, so some days she may not make a whole lot of eye contact, just because there is so much going on around her to look at. My son is 3 1/2 months as well, and I interact with him ALL day long. A day might look like: feeding in the morning, cuddling, then I'll make a little pallet on the floor with a blanket and his little stuffed animals while I vacuum, etc. Then the rest of the day we interact basically all throughout the day - more feeding and cuddling of course, I'll go for a walk and show him flowers, hold out his little hand to touch leaves, stuff like that. Back at home I read books to him and let him look at the pictures, we also do lots of baby exercises - I'll hold him under the shoulders to stand and let him practice "walking," or I'll sit in front of him and make a game out of helping him sit up or have tummy time. We also play peek-a-boo, then we'll lie down and take naps together. I also always make good eye contact every time I change his diaper and talk and sing to him. When my husband gets home, he holds him and talks to him while I make dinner. Don't believe any of the books that tell you you'll spoil her with too much contact, or that we need to teach babies some independence. Little infants need lots and lots of parent attention and support. Give her a little time to get used to her new world, and I bet she'll reward you with lots of eye contact and smiles very soon!!