When one discovers that they will become a mother in nine months, the studying and prep work almost immediately begins. There are books and blogs to read up on, mom groups to join, classes to take and so, so, so much to learn. This parenthood gig is uncharted territory, so moms need to load up on the information as best they can before the baby makes his debut.
Try as she might, spending forty weeks incubation schooling oneself on the ins and outs of babies, there are bound to be a few things that mom perhaps skimmed over. Newborns are unlike any other creature on the planet! They come with so many quirks and oddities that some parents start to wonder if they are indeed human.
Thankfully newborns are most definitely human. Strange as they might seem to adults who are not used to them, their developmental habits and features are almost always healthy. Here are 20 bizarre things that babies do in the first month that get parents sweating, but are completely normal.
20 Twitch and wiggle
One minute your infant is peacefully snoozing by your size, still as a life-like doll, and suddenly he or she starts twitching and slightly jerking around. This abrupt change in a newborn would make any parent jump up and run for the phone. Surely something must be wrong with your precious bundle of joy right? Thankfully the answer is no. Newborn babies are known for scaring the socks off of their parents for their twitches and jiggles, but chances are nothing it truly the matter. Newborns have immature nervous systems, and the twitching is likely a result of their attempts in movement regulation. If however, your baby jerks only to one side for longer than a few beats, give your doctor a ring.
19 Flailing and falling
Another thing that startles parents when they see their baby do it is the sudden "free fall" flail. Seasoned parents know what I am talking about here. A baby is peacefully sleeping, and then out of nowhere, they start waving their arms around like they are being dropped from a plane. This phenomenon is called The Moro Reflex. It indeed happens when a baby senses that he is free-falling. It's something that is built into his little system designed to protect him from a perceived loss of equilibrium. The Moro Reflex looks weird, but it's completely normal.
New parents are never quite prepared for the quirks of their little person. One thing they realize is that new babies hiccup a lot, and in many cases, more than parents think they should. Before you freak out over the constant hiccups that seem to rock your kiddo's entire body or try to treat them with old-school cures, remember that this is a newborn, and newborns often do strange, but harmless things. His hiccups are likely due to quick feedings or because his swallowing and breathing aren't yet in sync. Take a breath and know that the hiccups might bother you, but they probably aren't affecting your newborn.
17 Crying without tears
It's widely assumed that crying and tears go hand in hand like peanut butter and jelly, but the association of tears and sobbing happens only after your newborn baby is around for roughly twelve weeks. At that point, his nervous system ramps up, and he can transmit messages to his tear glands. The long of the short of it here is, if your new baby screams his head off and a teardrop never falls from his lashes, he is not an alien life-form, he is entirely typical so cross this concern right off your list.
16 The sudden stillness in breath
As a new parent, you will likely spend a large chunk of your day staring at your baby in awe. Just because he sleeps through most of your waking hours doesn't mean you can't spend your staring at his perfect little features. At some point, you will be watching her perfect little chest gentle rise and fall when out of nowhere he seems to stop breathing altogether. It's jarring to see this, but momentary pauses in newborns' breathing patterns are nothing to meltdown over. It's when those pauses last for more extended periods that parents should contact a medical professional to rule out more pressing issues like apnea.
15 Grip you like they have superpowers
Newborns are delicate little things that make us feel as if they might crumble if we hold them too tightly. As dainty as they might appear to be, they can grip a finger like they were born on Planet Krypton. This super strength doesn't seem normal, but it actually is. Scientists think that this hardcore finger grip might have been inherited from our early ancestors. Back then babies had to hold onto their mothers for their very survival. Research also indicates that when a newborn takes hold of his mother's finger with all of this strength, his heart rate slows and he calms.
14 Make bizarre noises
When I first became a mom, I was in no way prepared for the barrage of strange noises that regularly came out of my six-pound human. Parents will almost always jump from their beds on a dime and race to the nursery when they hear a series of weird squeaks and breaths coming from their baby monitor. Those noises aren't anything to get all flustered and bothered by though. Babies in the early stages of life are nose-breathers, meaning they will make noises when they breathe. Do your best to get used to them and enjoy the little gurgles and murmurs your infant makes. They sure beat the sass that is going to come down the pipes in a few years.
13 They go cross-eyed
Babies who have not yet had a lot of time to work out their eye muscles will often go cross-eyed when looking at you. Before you consider doing a google search on pediatric ophthalmologists, know that this cross-eyed appearance is normal at this stage in the game. Her eyes will cross and wander for her first four months of age. If it continues past six months, or her eyes, seem to be crossed at all times, discuss the concern with her doctor. Now that you know this is all normal enjoy those silly little faces that she makes for you.
12 Develop scales on their noggin
Newborns sometimes develop strange looking scales on their little heads shortly after their births. This gross looking development is better known as cradle cap, and while it isn't anything pretty to look at, it is pretty standard. The flaking of infant scalp should subside in the next few months, but in the meantime, parents can rub those little noggins down with a bit of baby oil a few times each week. Parents can also use a fine tooth comb to scrape away the patches of flaky skin after a baby's bath. Cradle cap is one of those newborn conditions that will have to run its course.
11 Go #2 like it's their job
Of course, all new parents know that once the baby arrives, they are in for some wicked dirty diapers. What parent-to-be hasn't heard a good, old #2 story a time or two before? So while mom and dad will be waiting and ready to change little bottoms, they might not be prepared for the extent that poo becomes their life. Newborn babies go #2 a lot. It's not uncommon for them to make a diaper deposit after every meal.
Babies who nurse might go even more as mama's milk will run right through them. All of these newborn blowouts are normal though. It will be some time before they space their stinks down to once or twice a day.
10 Sometimes Their Chest Looks Swollen
Do you feel as if you just gave birth to a miniature Jessica Rabbit? If you are finding yourself staring down at your newborn daughter and wondering (and worrying about) why she seems to have a chest size that would better fit a pre-teen girl, you are not alone. When your hormones were busy ravaging your pregnant body, they also affected your daughter's body too. The hormonal exposure that she had in utero likely caused her tiny buds to develop beyond what one might expect for a newborn baby. Tuck your worries away because this will go away in due time and is normal.
9 They lactate
Newborn girls don't only have female chest tissue that is larger than what would be expected, thanks to all of those pregnancy hormones; they can also lactate. For parents who have no clue that this is a regular occurrence, it can be jarring to see your baby make milk just like you do. Not all babies will perform this feat though. Roughly 5% of newborn females will produce what is known as "witches milk" for the first few months following their birth. It might look strange, and can be hard to wrap your mind around, but lactating newborns is no big deal and no reason to sound the alarm.
8 Sneeze constantly
Does your baby already have a virus? Is it possible that all of this sneezing he is doing is because of something dangerous and sinister? If your new baby is sneezing her little head off and making you wonder if you should dial up the doctor already, consider why she might be The New Queen of The Ah-Choos. New babies are not accustomed to the millions of foreign particles floating around and invading out systems. They tend to sneeze frequently to clear their nasal passages. They will also sneeze a lot when in the sunlight as well as when they are attempting to remove mucus from their airways. If no other symptoms are present, she is likely fine.
7 Disclose more in the diaper than what moms expect
All parents know that they are in for years of full diapers. We know that babies will spend their waking hours making plenty of number #1's and #2's. That seems obvious, and even the most naive parent-to-be will know that this continuous diaper duty is a part of the job. Newborn babies leave more than the usual in their diapers, which often freaks out their parents. Red in a newborn baby girl's diaper is likely due to the hormones that she has just been soaking up. A drop in estrogen is probably the culprit behind the "mini-period." Males babies can also have blood in their diapers, especially if they recently had a circumcision.
6 They have oddly-shaped heads
Many newborns that arrive naturally and through V-birth will come out with very oddly shaped heads. Parents might feel a bit perplexed and even dismayed when they spent nine months envisioning a perfectly round noggin, only to come face to face with on oblong-shaped head. Getting down the birth canal is hard work, and the soft, malleable infant head will mold and move to accommodate mom's pelvis better. The good news here is bizarre baby skulls won't stay oddly shaped for very long. Perfectly-round infant skulls are not all that common, ask any parent that has been around the birthing block about this. At least one of their kids' had a "weirdly shaped head."
5 They are missing kneecaps
Newborn babies have us adults beat in the bone department. Human babies have 300 bones in their bodies, whereas grown-ups only have 206 bones. As time goes on, bones fuse, making two into one. One bone that newborns don't have however is a kneecap! At birth, the patella is merely cartilage. It transforms into bone material as the child grows, starting when the child is roughly three to five years old. Don't freak over your angel's missing leg bones. No one's baby is born with them.
4 Newborns develop acne
When we think of acne, we tend to visualize pimply teenagers undergoing drastic hormone changes. Acne is pretty synonymous with the teenage years, but that doesn't mean that it can not occur at other phases in life. Teens aren't the only ones to get struck down by a bad case of acne. Infants are prone to icky breakouts too. Why? Well, those wonderful pesky hormones of course! Many newborns will rock the zits for a short period until the hormone situation works itself out. Zit free life will be short-lived in many cases though. Another decade or so will bring the pimples back on with a vengeance.
3 They have a bulging spot on their heads
Newborn babies have a soft spot on the back of their heads called the fontanelle. This mushy place on a baby's scalp feels different than the rest of the scalp because the scalp hasn't fused quite yet. This particular spot is the place where it's evident that not everything is in place quite yet. So while it is freaky that your kid's head isn't stable as stone, it's even creepier to know that if you place your hand over the soft spot, you'll feel it pulsing. While this does look like something you would see in the movie Alien, it's perfectly normal for new babies.
2 Newborns look very bowlegged
Babies enter the world looking quite round. They aren't exactly jonesing to stretch out and unfurl immediately. They spend nine months packed tightly in the womb, and because of this positioning, they can enter the world looking bow-legged. You might feel concerned that your baby's legs won't properly function when it comes time to stand up and walk, but their strange appearance will subside, they will become stronger, and in due time they will straighten out. Having a bow-legged-looking ball of joy is nothing, if not normal.
1 They come covered in red patches and white bumps
We expect our newborn's skin to be nothing but creamy and perfect, so it can be concerning when they are instead riddled with white bumps and red patches. Those red patches are probably birthmarks, called stork bites. They can become darker when your kiddo is upset but should fade over time. The white dots are milia. They resemble a white head but are not. Fight the urge to pop them and leave them alone. They too will fade away. Both of these skin conditions are common in new babies and are nothing to worry mom and dad over.
Sources: parent24.com, thebump.com, madeformums.com, babyology.com.au