Behavioural problems in Infants
Resistance to feeding or impaired appetite
The infant may exhibit resistance to feeding during weaning either due to dislike of the taste of the weaning food or as a reaction to the new situation. He/she may be physically uncomfortable because of painful ulcers in the mouth or blocked nose. Upright posture of the mother may distract him/her. The mother may not appreciate this and may become frustrated and tense. The situation can often be remedied by adjustment in the feeding schedule and reassurance to the mother. Insides of the mouth must be examined for Candida infection or other painful ulcers. Blocked nose should be treated by instilling normal saline or mild decongestant.
Some infants may cry continuously for variable periods often extending to more than 3 hours in a day. They may clench fists and flex legs or may make apparent sucking movements. This is called as colic. This colic may recur for several days, often more than 3 days a week. The problem usually starts within the first week after birth and reaches a peak by the age of 4-6 weeks and improves considerably by the age of 3-4 months.
The exact cause of this colic is not clear. It more commonly occurs in overactive infants, who are over stimulated by their parents. It could be a manifestation of hunger, improper feeding, aerophagy (swallowing of air during feeds or sucking), cow milk allergy, lactose intolerance, low progesterone levels, congenital hyper tonicity or physiological immaturity of the intestines during early infancy. Mothers should be counselled about the transient nature of the condition. The baby should be fed in the upright position and burped to promote egress of swallowed air. The baby should be placed in bed on the right side or recumbent with face down for 10-15 min. The infant should not receive undue attention during crying. Eye contact of the mother with the baby reinforces the bonding with the baby.
The infant relates to the mother for satisfaction of its needs, for comfort, pleasure and security. Children show anxiety on approaches by strangers, especially in absence of his/her parents.
Resistance to parental interference
The infant likes to explore its environment and resents interference by parents who restrain him/her to deflect from the pleasure of exploration of the environment.