Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Your Amazing Newborn, written by Marshall H. Klaus, M.D. and Phyllis H.Klaus, C.S.W., M.F.C.C. remains the authoritative text on newborn behavior since it was first published in 1998.  I especially enjoy the chapter, “Waking to the World,” that describes the quiet alert state that many newborns experience within the first hour of life.  Newborns continue to spend about ten percent of any 24-hour period in quiet alertness during the first week of life, though seldom for as long as the duration of the first time.  I have observed the quiet, alert state and it is, indeed, wondrous.
During the first hour, newborns in the quiet alert state look directly at their mother’s and father’s faces and eyes and can respond to voices.  The newborn’s eyes are wide open, bright and shiny.  Dr. and Mrs. Klaus suggest that this special alert state paves the way for the attachment between the newborn and those who care for him/her.  “The intensity and appealing power of this little bud of humanity meeting the world for the first time are all but irresistible.”

Child psychiatrist Peter Wolff, psychologist Heinz Prechtl, and pediatrician T. Berry Brazelton studied newborns extensively.  They concluded that newborns have six different states of consciousness according to wakefulness or sleep.  There are two sleep states:  quiet and active; three alert states: quiet, active, and crying; and drowsiness – a transition between sleep and wakefulness.  I think they forgot the seventh state:  silly drunk with milk!

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