Fear is a strange thing; psychologists say that most humans share similar fears - heights, the dark, creepy crawling bugs, and suspicious noises. A healthy dose of fear is actually a good thing. Fear can keep individuals in check and (hopefully) keep them from doing potentially dangerous things. Think of it as nature’s insurance policy.
However, not all fears make sense. “Mommy, can you check under my bed and see if there’s a monster?” Parents know there is no such thing as monsters, yet children fear them. Young children, in particular, are known for their fears: monsters, the boogyman, and broccoli. These strange fears might stem from watching new movies or TV shows for the first time or hearing fairy tales. Some of those original fairy tales are scary, even for adults!
It might seem odd, but newborns always have their own set of fears, and their fears aren’t exactly scary things. In fact, newborns fear some pretty mundane, everyday objects. Here are 15 things you didn’t know the newborn could be scared of.
15 World’s Scariest Lumberjack
Beards are nothing new. Men having been growing beards since forever. Just look at the caveman illustrations! Of course, the style of beards does change over the years. Mutton chops, anyone? There’s really quite a surprisingly long list of beard styles including the Stubble, the Full Beard, the French Fork, the Dutch, the Garibaldi, and the Bandholz. Regardless, the full beard has come back into style and has been wholeheartedly adopted by lumberjacks, hippies, hipsters, and professionals alike.
A good beard can make a gal swoon, but for the newborn set, a beard can be terrifying. One mom shared her story: “When my very-bearded brother came to visit me after I had my daughter, I learned that Olivia, my daughter, is terrified of beards. Any time he came near her, she screamed.” Perhaps the baby is just used to staring at Mom’s fuzz-free face?
14 Rub-A-Dub AHH!
A warm bath can be one of the most relaxing things in the world! A glass of wine, some music, a good book, and you could be all set for hours. Here’s a fun factoid: in ancient times, the Romans actually had giant bathhouses where you could go and just sit in a gigantic warm bath. Think of it like a community pool meets spa. The point is, humans have been soothed by warm water for centuries.
Except for newborns. A bath might be terrifying for them! First of all, they would much rather be warm and cozy while nursing or wrapped up against mama with a bottle. Getting naked (gasp! Cold air!) and sitting in a tub of water? That just isn’t their cup of tea. They don’t get why they need a bath; they don’t even know what a bath is. It’s something that makes them cold and they are just afraid of it.
13 Stranger Danger
For some overly chatty toddlers, teaching them stranger danger is extremely important for both social and safety reasons! Cue the toddler who tells all the strangers in Target that Mommy needs to eat all the chocolate because she’s on her period. We also don’t want our tots telling everyone that we live at 1234 Maple Drive! Yep, all good reasons to teach the importance of not gushing every detail to strangers. Remember those Chewy granola bar commercials?
Newborns, however, don’t seem to need this reminder that strangers should be kept at a safe distance. Newborns are naturally wary of strangers – even “strangers” that are relatives. Imagine the poor grandma who flies in from out-of-state only to be greeted as a stranger by the newborn. At least newborns slowly grow out of this!
There’s nothing unusual about sneezing; in fact, humans aren’t even the only beings who sneeze. Dogs definitely sneeze, and we all know from the Youtube video that even a giant, cuddly Panda bear sneezes. You can’t make yourself sneeze; it just happens. It is nature’s way of clearing something irritating from your nose, whether it be dust, allergens, boogers, or other debris (I say debris since this is a parenting site and kids have had their fair share of odd household objects up their nose!).
Despite the normal-ness of sneezing, a good old “achoo” can scare the living daylights of a newborn! Some parents have even caught their happy newborn turn into a fearful mess on video after hearing Dad sneeze! Although to be fair, Dad sneezes can be quite loud!
11 It’s Not A Rattle Snake!
YouTube has become more than a way for families to share videos of their babies with loved ones. To be more precise, they get to share their videos with the whole entire world, or at least the people in the world who enjoy watching funny baby videos!
Thanks to a few families sharing videos of their babies being terrified of random objects, we now know that a baby rattle can seem pretty freaky to a baby. Although, more than the sound itself, I’m willing to bet that the babies are also a little afraid of their moms and dads waving a plastic thing right in their face. I mean, would you really like if someone was waving a noisy plastic thing right up in your face as a way to cheer you up? Probably not.
10 Twinkle, Twinkle
When my son was little, he was gifted a stuffed purple giraffe. It was soft chenille and super cute, but when you pressed its foot, it became to sing and dance. It then transformed from cute and cuddly to … just too much.
While my son wasn’t afraid (he actually pushed that button till the battery died…), we can thank YouTube once more for the video of the baby screaming at her animatronic Elmo doll. It’s not just purple hippos and Elmos though; there are plenty of stuffed animals out there that sing and dance and roll and wiggle. As a baby is learning how to tell the difference between live objects (Mommy, Daddy, Fido) and inanimate objects (the chair, the floor, the pillow), it could definitely throw his limited understanding of the world askew by seeing his toys come to life.
9 Lay Me Down To Sleep (Scream!)
You’ve just spent an hour getting your baby to sleep. You did the routine of rocking, shushing, swaddling, and singing her favorite lullaby. Maybe you even stuck the baby in the car for a trip around the block. You fed her, changed her, and she is finally asleep. Celebrate!
Then you lay her down, her arms flail out, and she’s now wide awake, fearful, and screaming. What gives? Babies are born with many instincts, and one of them is called the Moro reflex aka the startle reflex. It causes the baby to feel like they are falling, which can make them feel scared – rightly so!
They grow out of this reflex within a few months, but you can swaddle baby and lay her down sloooowly to help avoid the reflex from kicking in.
8 Excuse You!
Toot, fart, passing gas, wind – whatever you want to call it, we all do it. Babies, kids, adults, and even kings and queens. No one is above a good fart. Sorry, but those are the facts!
Despite the fact that this happens to all of us, farts have become something that is improper to talk about. Elementary kids have been intrigued by this topic and have been known to tell fart jokes and crack up when anyone lets one go.
But once again, we can thank YouTube for the hilarious video compilation of babies scared by a fart. Yep, the thing that makes kids laugh and grown women feel embarrassed; that is the thing that babies can be afraid of. And it’s not just any fart; it’s their own farts!
7 It’s Not Even A Tangible Object
I understand being afraid of certain things: snakes, poisonous spiders (okay, any spider), alligators, bears, or even big ferocious dogs. These are all tangible things that could (and sadly do) harm people. But it’s a lot harder to comprehend of a fear of something that doesn’t even exist, something that cannot be held or felt.
Enter: a shadow. Unless you’ve been watching the old Peter Pan movie, you know that shadows aren’t real. They can’t be touched or held or picked up. They disappear if you shine a light on them. Yet, babies see a shadow and freak out! Of course, they don’t know what a shadow is or what causes it. So I supposed it looks like a freaky shadowy ghost. On the other hand, that does sound super scary…
6 Better Out Than In!
If you’ve ever had a bit of indigestion and drank a La Croix water, you know that the following burp feels so good. Plus, that just justifies any La Croix obsession so win-win. Burping is important! As adults, we know that burps are caused by gas and burping helps us feel better. As kids, we laugh about burps and try to burp the alphabet. As babies, we NEED to be burped after each feeding to help little tummies avoid those dreaded gas bubbles.
But babies don’t always get the memo that burping is good. Another YouTube user uploaded a video of his baby being burped by Mom. The baby lets out a big burp, and then promptly looked terrified. Perhaps she was surprised at the nose of it? Who knows, but the fear on her face was definitely evident.
5 Thanks, Mom, But I Don’t Like It
Remember how many hours you spent planning your baby registry? All those hours of researching what products were safest? Matching your nursery décor with every single baby product that you brought home? Yeah, there was a lot of time and love put into those decisions.
Most new parents include baby swings in those initial baby purchases. Parents make sure it’s a safe model but also super comfortable. So it might come as a shock when the baby is actually afraid of the things you bought just for him! Some babies might be afraid of the swinging mobile or others might be afraid of the music. Some might be afraid of swinging without mom’s loving arms holding him. Either way, you just never know what your baby is going to fear!
4 1, 2, 3, Boop!
What is it about babies that make them so touchable? Their super soft, perfect skin? Their cuteness? Babies are irresistibly cute! It’s why we have phrases like “You’re so cute, I just want to pinch your cheeks!” But put yourself in your baby’s place. Imagine strangers coming up to you in the grocery store and talking just inches from your face. Totally makes you uncomfortable, right?
Well, babies may not be able to say “watch my personal bubble” but the vast majority of babies do not enjoy strangers up close pinching their cheeks or doing the infamous nose boop. I mean, their cute little button noses are practically asking for a nose boop, but still, some babies find it frightening. Double whammy if it’s a stranger doing the nose boop.
3 And Down Will Come Baby, Cradle And All
Babies and lullabies go together like peanut butter and jelly. Babies love lullabies, and that’s why there are so many toys and swings and rockers on the market that come pre-loaded with lullabies. Research shows that babies recognize and are soothed by songs that they heard while in the womb! Pretty amazing!
So it might be a bit of a shocker to learn that a newborn can be afraid of a lullaby. One YouTuber uploaded a video of mom singing to the baby. The second mom sings, the baby cries. When she stops, the baby stops. The conclusion? Baby is scared of Mom’s singing. On the other hand, maybe the baby is listening to those awful lullaby lyrics. “Down will come baby, cradle and all”?! Really?? I might cry too if my mom was singing about me falling down from a cradle in the tree!
2 Pack 'N No Thanks
Another standard baby item, the Pack 'n Play has been around for decades. For moms, these offer security and protection, especially if you’ve got a busy household with multiple children; the baby has a safe place to nap and play. For babies, a Pack n Play offers a portable crib so when the mood to nap strikes, the baby has somewhere comfy (other than Mom’s arms) to nap.
But not all babies like the Pack 'N Play (and I can speak from experience!) In a baby gear forum, Alexandra shares her experience, “This was my biggest purchase regret. My son was actually scared of his playpen. The minute I started to lay him in it, he would scream and get all startled. I mean, I guess I get it. It’s like a baby jail.” Baby jail!
1 Good Morning, Anyone?
Babies usually fall asleep nestled into someone’s arms. Whether they fall asleep nursing or swaddled in Dad’s arms with a bottle, most babies fall asleep (easier and quicker) when someone is cuddling them close. The security, the warmth, and the familiarity all play a role in this. Isn’t that true for most people? Kids, adults alike – we all like to fall asleep next to someone we love, right?
So this next item makes sense: babies get afraid when they wake up alone. The last thing they knew, you were rocking them and holding them close. Now, they are alone? Where did you go? Why did Mommy leave me here? Baby doesn’t understand just yet that you still exist whether or not they physically see you… hence the major freak out.