No matter how many books you read or parenting classes you attend, all new parents inevitably experience some anxiety about their newborn baby’s odd habits. Some behaviors may seem concerning, but they are often totally normal. Understanding the common quirks of babies can save you a panicked trip to the pediatrician.
As a new parent, you may worry about the irregular breathing patterns of your baby. Periodic breathing is the medical term for when babies stop breathing for up to 10 seconds before taking another breath. It can also present itself as episodes of rapid shallow breaths. This is a normal occurrence in premature and full-term babies, so it is usually nothing to worry about. Your baby will eventually grow out of this harmless condition as they get older.
New parents are sometimes concerned about small breast buds on their newborn babies. Although this breast tissue may look strange on an infant, it is actually normal. In the womb, babies are exposed to the hormones in the mother’s bloodstream, including estrogen. Estrogen is the hormone that causes breast enlargement in pregnant women. So, newborns might have breast swelling until the hormones wear off. These “baby boobs” usually go away on their own.
Just because your baby sneezes frequently does not mean they have allergies or are getting sick. Everything is new to babies, and they are extra sensitive to irritants that adults are already immune to, such as airborne particles. Because babies can’t blow their noses, sneezing is the only way they can clear their nasal passages of these foreign particles. They are even adjusting to looking at light, so sunshine or a bright room can also cause a sneezing episode.
Although it may look alarming, it is normal for a baby’s eyes to appear crossed until as late as 18 months. It takes infants time to gain the muscle control necessary to focus their eyes properly. Also, sometimes what appears to be crossed eyes is really straight eyes affected by an optical illusion called pseudoesotropia. Extra skin folds and a broad bridge of the nose cause the eyes to appear to be turning inwards. Most babies outgrow this common condition.
Parents are often concerned when their calmly sleeping baby suddenly throws out their limbs as though they are falling. It may seem like the infant is experiencing a seizure. However, this is a normal neurological reaction called the Moro reflex or the startle reflex. It is an instinctual reflex to reach out to find something to grab onto when they feel like they are falling or are startled by loud sounds or movements. This reflex will disappear as the nervous system matures, usually around two months.
Parents sometimes worry when their baby hiccups for long periods of time. Rest assured, baby hiccups are very normal, and babies are generally unbothered by them. It is common for babies to get hiccups after a feeding, and they may continue for several hours. Hiccupping can happen if swallowing and breathing are not yet synchronized or if the diaphragm is irritated.
It is normal for babies to develop a greasy, yellow, scaly rash on their heads, a condition known as cradle cap. The dryness should clear up within the infant’s first few months. Brushing your baby’s head with a soft brush can help loosen the natural oils on the head to avoid build-up and alleviate the condition.
Frequent head banging is an alarming habit of some babies. Although sometimes unnerving, this behavior is normal. Repetitive banging is soothing for babies, as the rhythmic motion helps them relax. The action also allows infants to develop a sense of movement and balance. If you are concerned that your child will injure themself, try distracting them or put a protector around their crib.
Some parents are startled when their baby touches, scratches, or tugs on their genitals. However, just as a baby plays with its feet, this is a normal part of learning about the body. As well, penis erection and vaginal lubrication can be caused by something as simple as the feeling of air or water, so don’t panic.
It can be concerning when a baby is still for one minute and starts to twitch or shake the next. This behavior happens because their neurological systems are not yet fully developed, so they can’t properly regulate their movements. Rest assured; this is usually normal. As babies grow, their movements smooth out and become less jerky.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.