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How Not to Examine a Baby

An excerpt from
Dancing With Elves

I've seen a professor examining a newborn baby to show a student how to do it. The baby is lying on the table, waving his arms and legs, looking around, opening and closing his mouth, yawning, sneezing, doing everything. Then here comes the professor! He wants to look in the baby's mouth. He takes a tongue blade and puts it in the baby's mouth, and the baby promptly clamps his jaws together, so the professor has to force the baby's jaws open to look in the mouth.

Then the professor wants to look in the baby's eyes with his light, so he takes this real bright light and he shines it right into the baby's eyes and baby clamps his eyes shut. Then the professor has to take his fingers and pry those little eyelids open.

You can gat a baby's eyes to open spontaneously by turning off the lights. You don't have to pry their eyes open.

Every mother knows how to get a baby to open their mouth. One mother in our practice knows that her baby likes to suck on his own big toe, so she puts his big toe up there and he opens his mouth.

There are so many different ways to do anything. You're only limited by what you can think of.

The professor wanted to look at the baby's palms, so he pulled on the baby's fingers. What happens when you do that? The baby makes a fist. Then you have to pry the fingers open to see what's going on.

You can touch the back of a baby's hand and their hand will open.

In every case the doctor was producing the defensive reaction that made his task difficult. He was not utilizing the feedback that he was getting from the baby, to be a signal to modify his own behavior. The baby was yawning, but the doctor was examining the feet. The baby's mouth was open, but the doctor was examining the feet! Now, it's obvious that somewhere between the first week of life and age forty or fifty, something rather serious happens. We stop using our feedback.

We're carefully taught to pay attention to the program inside our head, instead of what's happening in the real world.

It just doesn't make sense to trigger resistances unnecessarily.


Random Thoughts

You can't not communicate … but you could at least try.


Bart Stewart
Bart Stewart Squared


Here's a little angel just for you
Mystic Planet

 


Subterranea


The Systems Bible: The Beginner's Guide to Systems Large and Small


Landmark Papers in Cell Biology: Selected Research Articles Celebrating Forty Years of The American Society for Cell Biology


Elegant Parenting: Strategies for the Twenty-First Century


Process and Reality (Gifford Lectures Delivered in the University of Edinburgh During the Session 1927-28)


Science and the Modern World


First Queen: A Historical Novel on the Life of Hatshepsut Queen of Egypt


Dancing With Elves: Parenting As a Performing Art


The Logic Of Failure: Recognizing And Avoiding Error In Complex Situations


Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences (Vintage)


Set Phasers on Stun: And Other True Tales of Design, Technology, and Human Error

 

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