Newborns are precious little creatures who steal our hearts from the very first moments of their lives. They are so new to the world that we're not sure what to expect. In the beginning, parents tend to find everything that their babies do to be amazing.
Then there comes a point where babies just start freaking us out. Sure, they are still cute, but they also perform stunts we weren't warned about that throw us off our game. Does the projectile puke mean our child needs an exorcism? Why is that soft spot so weird? Surely a child isn't supposed to be so hairy, right?
All of this and more freaks parents out about newborns. These occurrences are totally normal, but new parents may find that they don't feel very normal. In fact, even experienced moms who have had several years between pregnancies may have forgotten some of these strange events, causing them to wonder what is going on.
Newborns are just as weird as they are cute, so parents should be prepared for some strange activity those first few weeks. The transition to the outside world isn't easy, and newborns experience some hiccups along the way. Regardless of how weird the following activities seem, they are all normal. It's fine to call the doctor if mom and dad get too freaked out, but they will likely hear that their child is just being a newborn.
15 The First Projectile Vomit
We know that newborns spit up, which sounds like simply coughing a bit and expelling some liquid from their bellies. What people don't talk about as often is a newborn's ability to literally spit across the room. It's scary and vaguely Exorcist-like.
After a child eats, they very efficiently run milk through their tiny bodies. There's not much room in their little bellies, so they have to move the fluid somehow. Sometimes that means spitting up, and there are times when spitting up seems like more projectile vomiting than anything else.
For the most part, this isn't something to worry about. Sure, it leads to tons of messes, but it's usually not a sign of a problem if it just happens occasionally. If mom and dad notice their little one is spitting up in a very spirited way after every feeding, it's worth letting a doctor know. Some kids suffer with reflux problems that will require medical attention.
14 The Pulsing Head Experience
Let's all admit it: the soft spot is weird. It's good that a baby's head bones are so flexible because it enables them to slip through the birth canal. However, once they exit the womb it feels like forever before the bones in the head fuse together and that soft spot disappears.
Besides just being strange, a soft spot also looks to be its own living creature. The soft spot pulses, and in newborns it's easy to see this happen The delicate skin covering the soft spot will move up and down, almost like someone is blowing on it from the inside. When this happens the first time, mom and dad will be understandably freaked out.
It's important to be very careful with the soft spot since it doesn't need to be bumped, but it's a totally normal part of the newborn experience. Even the crazy pulsing head experience is within the range of normal, even though it is truly weird.
13 Explosive Poo Incident
For parents who thought meconium diapers were the worst thing a newborn could throw at them, the first straight up poo explosion is a surprise. While the tar-like substance that makes us a child's first poop is truly disgusting, it's nothing compared to the loose stool that climbs out of diapers, up onesies, and sometimes even into a child's hair.
There's no way to know what is going to cause a poo explosion, and they are absolutely never convenient. They generally require a bath, a new pair of clothes, and a whole lot of airing out the house to deal with the smell. Mom and dad may have to change clothes as well since the poop flows indiscriminately.
These explosions are normal in most infants, but it's important to let a doctor know if a child has poo explosions every time they have a number two. Food allergies sometimes play a part in making them worse.
12 The Random Jerking Dance
Parents may envisions newborns sitting or lying down quietly, motionless and content. That's not reality. Due to something called the Moro reflex, also known as the startle reflex, babies leave the womb with the ability to jerk their arms and legs drastically with or without an obvious stimulus. It looks like they are trying to break dance but are just really bad at it.
Seeing babies make these movements can be jarring since they seem random, but it's actually a good sign for kids to exhibit use of the Moro reflex. Sometimes babies will make a jerky motion due to a loud sound, but other times it seems random, and that's okay. They are learning to use their muscles, and this is part of that development.
Swaddling newborns is popular because of those jerky movements. While newborns need to practice these skills, they wake themselves up when they start moving in their sleep. That's why swaddling can help keep them asleep.
11 That Cross Eyed Gaze
There are several strange facts about babies' eyes when they are newborns. First of all, they can't see us that well unless they are extremely close to us, making cuddle time even more important. Also, they look cross eyed in those early days, and it can freak mom and dad out.
A lack of muscle control is likely the cause of this issue, since newborns are still learning to focus and move their eyes on command. It may appear that their eyes are going the wrong direction or are crossed, but it's just them learning how to move them properly.
There's also something called pseudoesotropia, the creation of an optical illusion that makes us think a baby's eyes look crossed when they are not. Because of a newborn's features, including folds of skin that can cover parts of the whites of the eyes, babies sometimes look cross eyed when they are not. It really might just be in our heads.
10 Weird Breathing Patterns
Doctors tell parents to make sure to contact them if the baby is breathing irregularly. Here's the problem: what is regular baby breathing? From the beginning newborns do some strange things in the respiratory department.
Babies may hold their breaths, something that looks like sleep apnea, and then release it. It is enough to drive parents crazy. Parents also don't remember what normal breathing looks like when they are trying to determine if there's a problem.
A good rule of thumb is that if breathing is erratic and the heart rate is elevated, it's time to get the doctor involved. It's also of concern if a child's breathing occurs in a way that exposes their ribs in a cagey way. It looks like they are gasping for breath and their ribs show in a cagey design.
9 When Baby Fist Pumps
It's always nice to receive a supportive fist pump from our little one, but why does it happen? The first time a child throws a fist in the air when he is just weeks old, we have to wonder if he has any idea what he's doing.
Probably not. Developing the fine motor skills to use hands takes time, so babies go around with their hands balled into fists for months. They aren't trying to punch anyone, and they aren't even raising their fists in solidarity. It's just all they can do.
Babies may also clench their fists tighter if they are upset, so look for signs that they are distressed. When a baby is hungry or uncomfortable, the fist will be clenched even tighter, and some tear-free crying will accompany the hand motion.
8 Spying While They Sleep
Parents will have the odd sensation that they are being watched for the rest of their lives after having children. It even starts when they are newborns and are supposed to be asleep. That's because infants can sleep with their eyes half open.
No matter how cute a kid is, a baby sleeping with his eyes half open is freaky. We look down expecting to see those sweet eyes closed and our baby peacefully dreaming, but instead we find our kid staring at us but not seeing us. Don't accidentally drop the baby out of fear the first time this happens.
Though no one knows for sure why babies do this, there are theories that it has to do with REM sleep. Babies eye motions increase the deeper they sleep, so when babies descend into deep REM, it's expected that they will stare at us, roll their eyes at us, and just do weird things. This phase will pass.
7 Little Man's First Salute
If mom has a little boy, she will likely be surprised to find that boys don't wait until adolescence to have their first erections. In fact, newborn boys can get erections. They usually get them right before they need to pee, so mom needs to know that so she doesn't get showered with urine.
Just like grown men get erections, newborns do too. There is nothing sexual about them. It's just the way the male body works. Mom may also notice her little guy is happy to grab his equipment, starting pretty much at birth. We're guessing that's just a guy thing.
A little boy's scrotum may also appear huge in relation to his tiny body. That's because fluid can settle there after birth and make things look enlarged. Things will look more proportionate as days go by, so there's no need for worry.
6 Tear-free Crying
Mom will likely feel like her newborn cries a lot, but she may wonder how he does it without any tears. It's a totally normal process for newborns, and months may go by before a baby cries with actual tears. It's weird to watch them scream their heads off while their faces stay dry, but in most cases it's normal.
If a child isn't crying with tears by the time his two month checkup arrives, it might be worth mentioning to a doctor. Sometimes a baby develops clogged ducts.
It's also important for parents to pay close attention if their child has a high fever. Fevers can lead to dehydration, so if a child isn't making tears and is also running fever, that could be the sign of a problem. If a child starts making tears and then stops while ill, that is also a reason to let a doctor know.
5 The Menstrual Cycle
Girls get initiated into the womanhood club very early. In fact, a small percentage of them may get a period after birth. That's right, that blood in the baby's diaper is likely a mini-period working its way out of the baby's system.
Why does this happen when we gave birth to an infant, not a teenager? Hormones. When baby girl suddenly isn't being exposed to massive amounts of estrogen anymore, her body will have a mini-period and then the hormone issues should straighten out, at least for her.
Boys can have blood in their diapers as well, but when that happens it's usually the result of a fissure, a tiny tear in the anal lining, that can happen when a child has a particularly difficult time going to the restroom. If concerned, call the doctor. It's probably fine. It's just that no one warns us that blood in the diaper is a thing before we have kids.
4 The Chewbacca Look
Okay, maybe babies don't look just Chewy from Star Wars, but some of them come pretty close. That precious baby skin is covered in hair, and even kids who don't have tons of hair on their heads may still have it on their shoulders and backs.
Lanuga is the fine hair that covers babies while they grow in their mothers' wombs, and not all babies shed it all before they emerge from the womb. All babies will have some lingering lanuga, but some babies look like they didn't lose any of it
Lanuga helps regulate body temperature in the womb, and it will go away as they develop enough body fat to stay warm without it. Until it comes completely out, mom can try braiding it or brushing it, anything to keep her entertained in those early days of having a baby.
3 Lactation Time
We know we're going to have milk coming in after the baby arrives, but who expects the baby to lactate? It's possible, and if mom and dad don't know it's coming, it can really freak them out.
It's not just girls that lactate. Due to hormones that babies absorb from us while they are in the womb, both genders will have swollen breasts that may leak milk once the baby is born. It's nothing to worry about, but most parents notice this topic doesn't get brought up in every day conversation. That's because it's so weird we just haven't found a way to discuss it quite yet.
Blame the estrogen for this taboo topic. There's just so much of it coursing through our bodies that babies can't help but be affected. They will eventually stop growing breasts and making milk, so just wait it out unless the breasts turn red or look infected.
2 Shedding Their Skin
Cradle cap is common, but it's still gross. For parents who have never had a child's skin just start peeling off, it can be weird to see what looks like excessive dandruff covering a kid's scalp. It will also cover baby's crib, receiving blankets, and mom's clothes if the child rubs his head against mom.
Cradle cap is common, and there's no real way to treat it unless it becomes a problem that spreads all over the body. Some doctors recommend using baby oil on a child's scalp to make the area less dry, and others say don't bathe babies too often or use too many products on their sensitive skin.
Unless the cradle cap moves from the head to other parts of the body, pediatricians won't likely intervene. There are creams that can be called in to treat it, but since it's an innocuous condition, they usually aren't necessary. Just wait it out.
1 Little Sneezers
Sneezing is normal, but for some reason watching a newborn have a sneezing fit the first time is horrifying. Is our child sick? Are they allergic to us? What is wrong?!?!
There's likely nothing wrong. Babies sneeze to clean out their nasal passages, and they also may be having mild reactions to all the new things they are exposed to in the outside world. Nurses generally warn mom that this can happen so she won't freak out, but it's still hard to watch a tiny baby sneeze repeatedly without worrying about him being sick.
Unless the sneezing is accompanied by other issues, it's likely just a normal reaction to being born. Baby sneezes are cute and generally don't involve too much snot, so mom and dad can just try to enjoy the cuteness while it lasts.