10 Funny, Weird Things Newborns Do
“So gorgeous!” – That’s probably what every parent thinks about their newborns. Sure, those cute little faces are just adorable! But getting to know your new family member can also be a little confusing from time to time. “Are babies supposed to do that?”, you might wonder watching your baby do that weird thing again. She or he might not remind you so much of a charming fairy now, but somehow a bit more of a tiny, awkward alien.
You haven’t read about that one in the books, have you? You are pretty sure that was not mentioned in the birth class, either. Yes, you did all the preparation and binge-watched all the videos for the past nine months. Yet, nobody prepared you for all the funny, weird things newborns do. Well, in a way they really are just tiny, adorable aliens, new in a strange world, they’ve never seen before.
1. Go Cross-eyed
For the first couple of weeks, it is totally normal that your baby has crossed eyes occasionally. When trying to focus, your baby’s eyes might move around unsteadily just to end up as what appears to be slightly misaligned. While newborns are still getting used to their visual abilities, they need to gain muscle control and strengthen their sight. This is hard work and takes a lot of practicing. Don’t worry, your baby will learn how to focus properly by the age of 6 months.
2. Weird Facial Expressions
Does your baby look at you in bewilderment in one second and pulls a frown the next? No, it’s unlikely a response to something you did. At least, not just yet. Though babies practice facial expressions in the womb already, they still don’t have a lot of control over their facial muscles in the first weeks after birth. This makes them go through a whole lot of grimacing and funny faces. My baby, for example, would make an o-shaped mouth for several minutes or change his expressions by the second. Simply relax and enjoy the hilarious looks on your tiny person’s face.
3. Sneezes and Coughs
If you are like me and panicky googled “Why does my newborn keep sneezing?”, you might be relieved to read this: Newborns do sneeze a lot. And they cough every now and then. It does not necessarily mean a cold is lurking behind the corner somewhere waiting to break out. Their immature immune systems make new babies very sensitive to particles in the air. The only way for them to clear out their respiratory airways is to sneeze and cough. Don’t ignore wheezing or high temperature though, as this can be signs of allergies or colds.
What is the deal with all the hiccups? They are totally normal, too. You might have felt your baby having a lot of them in your belly already. As a newborn he or she hasn’t outgrown the hiccups just yet. There is no clear explanation for a baby’s frequent hiccups, but quite a deal of theories around. One theory blames the immature diaphragm, another one unsynchronized breathing and swallowing. Fact is, they are very unlikely to be bothering your baby. You might want to try to ease the hiccups with a feed, but don’t make a big deal out of them.
5. Jerky Movements
When your baby suddenly throws his hands in the air and pulls the little legs up it can be quite surprising. These jerky movements might be happening when your newborn is asleep and wake him/her. In response to a loud noise, the feeling of falling or even randomly the Moro – also startle – reflex sets in. It is believed to be a survival instinct that makes a baby cling on to its mother as a prevention from falling. Swaddling can help your baby sleep until the startle reflex is gone at three to four months.
6. Groaning and Grunting
Babies are noisy sleepers. While he or she is fast asleep, you might be wide awake due to the funny, weird noises your little one makes. Rest assured that all the groaning, grunting and squeaking are completely normal. Narrow nasal passages, in which mucus can get stuck, can cause weird noises during baby’s sleep. As long as a baby is not grunting with every breath this is perfectly fine. If your baby’s grunting is accompanied by straining in the mornings, she/he is very likely struggling with her/his digestive system, which slows down over night.
7. Sleep With Their Eyes Open
It can creep you out a little when you watch your newborn baby sleeping and the eyes are open. Combined with a wild eye movements that let you see the white bits, this definitely makes a good scene for a horror movie. Sleeping with open eyes (a.k.a nocturnal lagophthalmos), is very common for babies. Considering they spent about half the time of their sleep in the REM – Rapid Eye Movement – cycle, the unsteady eye rolls are no surprise either.
8. Rubbing Their Faces
Just on the edge of falling asleep, your baby rubs his face on your shirt wildly. You might even have a hard time keeping your baby from scratching his/her face and forehead frantically. When newborns are extremely tired, this behavior seems to be some kind of self soothing. While some babies’ reaction to tiredness manifests itself in rubbing their heads, others find comfort in twirling their hair, tugging their (or someone else’s) ear lobes or rubbing their eyes. In case your baby is a ‘scratch-soother’ keep the nails short or try little mittens.
9. Breast Massages
If you are breastfeeding your newborn, you are likely to experience very deep breast massages. Good news: You don’t even have to book an appointment! The early days of breastfeeding are pretty hard work as your milk supply has to build up and you haven’t worked out the techniques yet. Don’t worry! Your little one is quite an expert on how to bring your milk in. Apart from cluster feeding, newborns keep kneading, squeezing and massaging to aid the milk flow. A warm pack on your breast before feeds and a cooling pack after is a good way to deal with soreness and discomfort.
10. Stare At Their Hands
At about six weeks, I was wondering why my baby boy was staring at the boring net of his bassinet instead of his beloved mobile. Only it wasn’t the net, it was his little fist pressing against it that fascinated him. Bit by bit, newborns gain an understanding of their own bodies and learn how to control their limps. Thus, it is actually a pretty big achievement to find out that these little hands belongs to them. So when your little one proudly sticks her/his tiny fist towards your face, encourage and compliment her/him on this important discovery.