to touch, and recognize familiar scents

*Points from T. Berry Brazelton, MD.

The potential possibilities of any child are the most intriguing and stimulating in all creation.

The potential possibilities of any child are the most intriguing and stimulating in all creation.

■ Assessing the Infant_

The key to a successful examination of the infant is using developmentally appropriate methods such as distraction and play. Because infants usually pay attention to only one thing at a time, it is relatively easy to bring the baby's attention to something other than the examination being performed. Dis- If you cannot distract the infant or tract the infant with a moving object, a flashing light, a game of peek-a-boo, make the awake infant attend to tickling, or any sort of noise. an object, your face, or a sound, consider a possible visual or hearing deficit.

Start the examination with the infant sitting or lying in the parent's lap. If the infant is tired, hungry, or ill, you might ask the parent to hold him against the chest. Make sure there are appropriate toys, a blanket, or other familiar objects nearby. A hungry infant may need to be fed before you can proceed with a complete examination.

Observe parent-infant interactions. Watch the parent's affect when talking about the infant. Note the parent's manner of holding, moving, and dressing the baby, and response to situations that produce any discomfort for the infant.

Observation of the infant's communication with the parent can reveal abnormalities such as developmental delay, language delay, hearing deficits, or inadequate parental attachment. Likewise, observations of the parent-infant interaction may identify maladaptive nurturing patterns that may stem from maternal depression or inadequate social support.

Infants usually do not object to removal of their clothing. Indeed, most seem to prefer being nude, perhaps because of greater tactile stimulation. To keep yourself and your surroundings dry, it is wise to leave the diaper in place throughout the examination; remove it only to examine the genitals, rectum, lower spine, and hips.

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