Dear Annie: My friend "Helen" has a 5-month-old baby, "Petey." This is her first child. She has no siblings and very little family, so her experience with babies is limited.
Petey seems to be rather small (about 12 pounds) for a 5-month-old. He seldom lifts his arms or legs or does any of the things my children did at that age. Helen has used a swaddling blanket on Petey since he was born. She makes him take a lot of extended naps during the day, plus at least eight hours of sleep at night. I fear she may have done some harm with this tight bondage, maybe cutting off circulation to his limbs.
How can I approach Helen about my concerns? Should I just MYOB? She becomes very defensive if anyone makes a comment about the baby. Her grandmother made a few suggestions once, and Helen didn't let her see Petey for six weeks. Also, Petey has not been checked by a doctor for nearly two months. Is this OK? Please give me some guidelines. — Shirley
Dear Shirley: Swaddling is quite common and often helps babies sleep. Most infants outgrow it by 2 months, although some continue a while longer. It is usually a good idea to stop swaddling when the baby learns to roll over, since it can become too constricting. At the very least, the swaddling should be loosened. Also, the longer an infant is swaddled the harder it can be to get the child to learn to sleep without it.
The pediatrician should see Petey roughly every two months to check his development. Between 4 months and 7 months, babies should be rolling over, reaching out for things and able to stay in a sitting position and hold up their heads and chests when lying on their stomachs. It's time to call the doctor if these milestones are not reached by 7 months, or if the child doesn't use an arm, a leg or one side of the body.
Petey may be just fine, but if you think otherwise, bring this column to Helen, and use it to start a neutral discussion.
Dear Annie: My 16-year-old son has mostly girls for friends. They invite him everywhere. He does have a couple of guy friends, but they hang around other boys my son doesn't like very much, so he usually stays away. He also isn't very good at sports, so he avoids them. Is this OK? — N.Y.
Dear N.Y.: Yes. A lot of perfectly normal teenage boys are not athletic and/or have little interest in sports, and many find the company of girls less threatening than that of teenage males, who can be aggressive and taunting. If your son seems well-adjusted and is relatively happy and doing well in school, we wouldn't worry about these preferences.
Dear Annie: "Not Knowing Is Painful" asked how to find out whether her son's ex-girlfriend, who won't return his calls, had given birth to their child in Nevada.
We've all heard stories of women who place their babies for adoption without the father's knowledge. Our state has a putative father registry. It lets the state, court and social services, etc., know that there is a potential and interested father out there. In my state, having sex with someone is considered prior notice of the pregnancy and birth of a child.
Fathers who don't register within the proper timeframe may involuntarily forfeit all their parental rights. Please tell "Not Knowing" to have her son check this out. — Joanne
Dear Joanne: Thank you for the information. About 23 states have putative father registries, which allow a father to voluntarily acknowledge paternity. Although each state's requirements may differ, "Not Knowing" should suggest her son contact the Division of Welfare and Supportive Services in Nevada.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.