Four-Month Touchpoint: Distracted during feeding

Joshua Sparrow, Child Psychiatrist & Author, explains why it's common for four-month-olds to become distracted during breastfeeding and shares tips on how to overcome it.
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Four-Month Touchpoint: Distracted during feeding

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At four months, there's a very common touchpoint. It's predictable that at 4 months of age, a baby will suddenly seem to lose interest in feeding. Parents wonder at first, is there something wrong with my baby? She was doing just fine at the breast or with the bottle. And now she'll just take a suck or two and looks away and seems to have completely lost interest. And if they can be reassured that there's nothing wrong with the baby - and usually there isn't - then they usually ask, "is there something wrong with me? Is there something wrong with my milk? Maybe I'm not making enough milk." But it turns out that this temporary disorganization in the area of feeding, which makes this a touchpoint in development is predicting to an exciting new development. What's happening here is that the baby's ability to focus visually is changing. Up until this point, the baby's ability to focus is at about this distance, which is perfect for looking at each others eyes during feeding. But at around 4-5 months of age, the baby's capacity to focus pushes out to about the distance of the walls of a normal size room. So it's almost as if the baby's being born again, sees all kinds of things he or she couldn't see before. And it's so exciting and it's so important, because their job is really to learn about their world. And now they can in a brand new way. So for this touchpoint there's a simple trick for parents. When it's time to feed, just darken the room. And then the baby will be able to focus on feeding again.

Joshua Sparrow, Child Psychiatrist & Author, explains why it's common for four-month-olds to become distracted during breastfeeding and shares tips on how to overcome it.

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Joshua Sparrow, MD

Child Psychiatrist & Author brazeltontouchpoints.org

A child psychiatrist, Dr. Sparrow’s care in the 1990s for children hospitalized for severe psychiatric disturbances, often associated with physical and sexual abuse, and for developmental delays aggravated by social and economic deprivation, prompted his interest in community-based prevention and health promotion. At the Brazelton Touchpoints Center, his work focuses on cultural adaptations of family support programs, organizational professional development, and aligning systems of care with community strengths and priorities, and has included collaborative consultation with the Harlem Children's Zone and American Indian Early Head Start Programs, among many others. He has lectured extensively nationally and internationally on related topics and has consulted on media programming for children and parents, including PBS’s Frontlines and Discovery Kids. Co-author with Dr. T. Berry Brazelton of 8 books and the weekly New York Times Syndicated column, “Families Today,” Dr. Sparrow has also served as a contributing editor to Scholastic Services’ Parent and Child magazine. In 2006, he revised with Dr. Brazelton Touchpoints: Birth to Three, 2nd Edition and in 2010, co-edited Nurturing Children and Families: Building on the Legacy of T. B. Brazelton, a textbook on the ongoing generativeness of Brazelton’s seminal research in a wide range of fields. Dr. Sparrow has authored numerous other scholarly works, teaches and lectures nationally and internationally, and is frequently called upon for his expertise by national and international media. Prior to attending medical school, Dr. Sparrow worked for several years as a preschool teacher and journalist in New York City.

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