Chin Up

Steve, Isaiah's father, is with me for his son's two-week weight check while his wife's blood pressure is checked next door.

As Steve starts talking to Isaiah, the baby at first tilts his chin up toward his father. But, the baby's eyes soon glance off to the side. Steve calls Isaiah's name a second time. Isaiah's chin stays up longer this time, but his breathing increases, and his eyes start to look a bit drowsy. By the third time Dad calls his son's name, Isaiah seems to be fast asleep.

Before Isaiah was born, Steve had seen a movie about how babies can see and hear right from the start. "Why won't he look at me? Something must be wrong with Isaiah's eyes!" Steve says.

Isaiah has just demonstrated a rather remarkable newborn behavior. He is giving Dad all the attention he can afford right now. His rising chin indicates his efforts to engage with Dad, but because he is so young and still maturing in his abilities, he can't take on looking right at his dad's face. When Dad continues to call out to him, Isaiah sends out an SOS (Sign of Over-Stimulation) by increasing his breathing, then drifting off to sleep. (See

When Steve and I discuss this normal newborn behavior, Steve seems excited. "I see, he's tilting that chin up like he's trying to talk to me." Steve could now appreciate his son's great efforts to engage with his Dad.

At Isiah's one-month-old check up Steve shares how Isiah had become able to look him right in the face over the last two weeks. "I just watched that chin come up, then I'd get real quiet a minute, and finally his eyes met mine. It was love at first sight!" Steve declared.