15 Normal Things Babies Do That Parents Mistake For Mental Illness

There's no easy way to say it - babies are weird. They grunt, squirm, growl, and they can't seem to do anything without being ridiculously dramatic. Most new parents have a general idea of how strange some baby behavior is, but once they're in the thick of it, they can't help but get freaked out from time to time... or every time! Babies are weird, and parents worry. That's just the way it is.

Have you ever seen a baby walk or crawl from one side of the room to another? They bounce, yell, wiggle their head from side to side, then look at you like you're the crazy one. Many new parents take to the internet to assuage their fears about their baby's new strange habit. From jerking randomly in their sleep, to suddenly acting as if they can't hear you.

Of course, always talk to your doctor or pediatrician if you feel like something is going on with your child. If your baby is experiencing more than one strange symptom or behavior, it's always best to make an appointment. This post is simply to point out some of the behaviors that parents typically lose sleep over, that are actually completely normal.

Continue scrolling to keep reading

Click the button below to start this article in quick view

Start Now

15 Jerking In Their Sleep

If you've ever seen your baby jerk in their sleep, this is referred to as the Moro sensation, and it's completely normal. Sometimes they might even wake themselves up!

This is part of the reason why it's suggested that you swaddle your newborn.

This reflex is all part of your baby's natural development, but the swaddle help prevent them from waking up. And, of course, it makes them feel warm and snuggly.

It's as frustrating for your little one as it is for you. Have you ever had one of those dreams where you feel like you're falling off of a cliff and you jerk awake? It's pretty similar to that. Newborns also twitch and smile while they're in deep sleep. It's both adorable and at times, concerning. Don't worry Mama, it's all totally normal.

14 Choking On Milk

baby making face with bottle acid reflux

Some babies who choke and sputter on milk frequently do in fact, suffer from reflux. I would recommend talking to your doctor about it if it seems to happen a lot.

Many new parents worry immediately that their baby may have a swallowing problem, or some other mental issue. Most of the time, this isn't the case. Your baby has been practicing their swallowing skills in the womb for a few months, but it's still a totally new experience after they're born.

Some breastfeeding moms may have a heavy letdown that causes their baby to sputter a little bit. Bottle feeding moms may need a nipple with a smaller hole. And other times, it's just your baby figuring out how to drink for the first time.

13 Why Can't My Baby Get Back Down?

Ahh, I remember this vividly. Once my son figured out how to pull up in his crib, it's all he ever wanted to do! You couldn't get that boy to stay put if you tried. The problem was, once he was up, he couldn't figure out how to get back down!

One afternoon I even found him asleep standing up against the bars of his crib!

You may worry that your baby is delayed in some way. Why would they be able to get up, but not get back down? Well, they haven't mastered that part yet! It's a lot to take in all at once. One thing at a time, mom. Soon enough, they'll be a total pro at it.

12 Random Shivers Or Spastic Movements

Random shivers and spastic movements can be indicative of a problem, and we certainly advise you to air on the side of caution and call your doctor if you notice it becoming a recurring issue.

That being said, this is something that doctors hear about all the time, and unless it's coupled with other symptoms, it's most likely nothing you need to worry about. Make sure your baby is warm. If they're all bundled up and they're still bobbing their little head around and jerking their tiny arms, it's just their little muscles developing. When you step back and think about it, it truly is amazing how fast they grow. Give them a couple of weeks or months, and they'll be holding themselves up like it's nothing.

11 Bobbing Or Banging Their Head Against The Wall

baby banging head on crib

The first time you see your baby bang their head rhythmically against their crib or the wall, you might be a bit taken aback. It's okay, really! According to BabyCenter, up to 20% of babies develop this strange habit, with baby boys being three times as likely. It usually begins between six to twelve months of age, and can last for months or even years. Typically they'll stop by three years old.

Babies do this for a variety of reasons. Self-comfort, frustration, seeking attention, or even pain.

Many times, it's simply babies being babies! They're just exploring the world around them, and how they can interact with it. It can be an early indication of Autism and other developmental problems, but it's extremely rare, especially if it's the only behavioral issue.

10 Pulling Their Hair Out

Baby pulling their own hair out

It can be quite unnerving if you see your baby pull their hair out. If it's severe enough, your baby may have trichotillomania, which is usually caused by anxiety.

But, not to worry, it's fairly common, and in most cases the issue will resolve itself. Most babies seem to do it during moments of relaxation. Lying down for nap time, while nursing, or while sitting bored in their crib, for instance. This strange habit can come and go, and unless your baby is developing bald spots, or the issue seems to worsen or continue on for weeks, you shouldn't worry too much.

For what it's worth, I worked at a daycare for a long time, and one of the little girls I cared for did this. Her parents were worried sick, and after a few months she just stopped. Her hair grew back and she never did it again.

9 Exploring Their Body

Baby exploring

Babies explore everything around them, especially as they become more mobile. They grab anything within reach, try to eat their own feet, and put toys in their mouth. So, it's really no wonder that they might explore their nether regions once they realize it's there. Yet, for some reason, we start to worry and wonder why they're exploring that area so young.

Don't worry, your little one isn't physically advanced. And they probably won't hurt themselves either. Just keep the diaper changes short.

They have no idea what they're doing, and it doesn't mean anything.

It's just something that's within grasp, that's all. Usually, as soon as you put a diaper back on, they'll soon forget and move on to looking for something else to explore.

8 Holding Their Breath

Please know that this can be a serious symptom, so don't take it lightly. Sometimes it's hard to differentiate between a baby holding their breath, and simply not breathing. It depends on many factors. As someone who grew up with a sister with epilepsy and a myriad of other health problems, I urge you to make an appointment if your baby does this often, or if they show any other unusual symptoms.

That being said, babies have been known to hold their breath randomly, and it doesn't mean anything bad. Have you ever seen your little one bump their head or hurt themselves, and it seems like they hold their breath for 10 seconds before screaming? It's almost as if they're revving up for the yell. Older babies will hold their breath out of frustration as well, and you can't forget about the poop face. Grunting and holding their breath while they push is totally normal.

7 Not Wanting To Be Held

baby doesn't want to be held

When your baby doesn't want to be held or cuddled, it can be upsetting. Not only do you feel hurt and unwanted, you'll probably start to worry about whether or not they're able to form connections and relationships with other people.

Unless your baby is missing milestones or exhibiting other early signs of autism, such as avoiding eye contact or ignoring noise, you probably have nothing to worry about. As heartbreaking as it can be, your baby is their own person.

Some people just don't like being coddled as much as others.

My son was never the cuddly type. It wasn't until he was about a year and a half that he started wanting to snuggle up and hug me. Just give it time and out of nowhere, your baby will probably cuddle you when you least expect it.

6 Not Liking A Change In Schedule

Baby likes a schedule

We all know babies thrive when they're on a set schedule or routine. But sometimes, they can be so touchy about it, that it makes you wonder just how neurotic your child is going to be. My son used to this way. If you waited even ten minutes later than normal to lay him down for a nap, he would have a total meltdown. If someone showed up randomly and threw off his playtime routine, he threw a fit.

It's just a personality trait. The older they get, the more they're open to changes in their schedule. Babies have such intense emotions that they don't know how to handle or express, so they show it by crying or getting frustrated. It also all depends on how you raise them. If you've been strict about a routine in the past, it's just what they're used to.

5 Selective Hearing

Baby ignoring you

Babies (and kids for that matter) are masters at picking and choosing what they want to hear. You mention the word "park" or open up a bag of chips, and they'll hear it across the house. If you call their name a million times about a foot away from them, if they're busy playing, sometimes they won't give you the time of day.

It's one thing if your baby never looks you in the eye or shows any affection or connection whatsoever.

But if they just choose to not respond to you sometimes, they're just preoccupied.

They're wrapped up in whatever they have going on in their little growing minds. I mean, come on, Mom. This crinkly sensory toy is way more interesting than your coos. Been there, done that!

4 Refusing To Share

Baby Snatching Toy

This is another one of those social issues that may cause new parents to worry about their child's future. Will they get along with other kids? Will they make friends?

Yes! Goodness, don't be so quick to worry! A baby that doesn't want to share his toys doesn't mean they have a mental disorder or a lack of empathy. Well, they sort of lack empathy, but all babies do! That's something that comes with age. They're working on learning how to walk and recognizing relatives. They're not worried about whether or not they hurt your feelings when they ignored you, or stole their toy back from another kid who wanted to play together. They're just not wired that way yet. Don't worry, they'll learn how to share during their toddler years. You have a long way to go.

3 Reading The Same Books Over And Over Again

Dear God, if you have to read the same little story again today, you might just pull your hair out. I know how you feel! You might start to wonder what in the heck is so interesting about the brown bear, and why your little one wants to hear the same phrases a hundred times a day.

Babies learn through repetition.

That's pretty much all there is to it. They're not fixating on anything, or being wacky. They love the sound of your voice, they love the colorful pictures, they love sitting on your lap, and they want to hear it just one more time. Soon enough they'll have the book memorized and they'll be able to "read" it back to you.

Soak it in Mama, one day they won't let you read that book to them again.

2 Excessive Crying

Baby Screaming

Some babies just cry a lot, and there's nothing you can do about it. Of course, there may be a million reasons why babies are fussy, from gas to teething pain. But once you've checked everything off of the list and they still aren't letting up, what are you to do?

Well, your mind will certainly wonder. You'll start thinking of every possible thing that could be wrong with your baby, and believe me - it escalates quickly.

More than likely you've got a colicky baby on your hands, or possibly a gassy or intolerant little guy or gal. The stress of constantly caring for a screaming baby will undoubtedly scramble your brain. Just try to stay logical, and as always, make an appointment with your doctor.

1 They Seem To Forget Skills They've Already Learned

Forgetful Baby

If I had a nickel for every time my son forgot an awesome skill he learned...

Yeah, I would be rich alright. He learned how to roll over, I got excited, then he didn't do it again for a couple of weeks. He started saying my name, then quickly reverted back to "WAHHH" for a few days. He took a few steps, I took out the camera, and he didn't get back on his chubby little feet for another month.

If your baby does this, it's frustrating but completely normal.

They're still working things out in their heads, and it won't be long before they "relearn" the skill. Remember not to pressure them too much or make a big deal of it. As soon as you gather the whole family in the living room to watch little Timmy crawl, he'll make you look like a fool. They get overwhelmed and distracted. They'll pick back up where they left off, don't you worry!

References: parenting.com parents.com itsbaby.com parent24.com

More in Did You Know...