Is My Baby OK?
Every mom-to-be expects her natural maternal instincts to kick in, but there are some things babies do that are just plain confusing. Should she be sucking her thumb this early? Wait, what was that position he just put himself in?
Take a deep breath; most confusing baby behavior is perfectly normal. Here are a few strange things you may notice with our baby that you don’t need to worry about.
Babies spend a long time in the fetal position – legs curled to their bellies, arms in front of their chest, fists clenched, head down – before they’re born. It’s only natural that they’ll return to this position during their first few weeks of life. As your little one develops more control over his or her movements, you can expect more activity.
Babies have lots of natural reflexes, some of which may startle you if you’re not prepared:
- Sucking reflex: Your little one will suck on any object put into his or her mouth. This makes sense when you think about how newborns consume food! Also, the nerves in a baby’s mouth are more developed than the ones in the fingers, so he or she can learn more about the environment by sucking on something rather than by touching it.
- Grasp reflex: Try putting something in your baby’s hand and watch as his or her little fingers start curling around it. Newborns automatically try to grasp anything that touches their palms.
- Startle response: If your little one hears a loud noise, sees a bright light, catches a strong smell or encounters another unexpected stimulus, he or she will throw the arms out and then draw them back in to the middle of the body.
- Asymmetrical tonic neck reflex: Sometimes, a stimulus will cause your baby to turn it’s head and extend the arm out to the same side. Because of the way babies look in this position, it’s also known as the fencing reflex. This is a primitive reflex, and as your child’s central nervous system develops, it will disappear in about three months.
- Stepping reflex: If you hold your baby upright and rest his or her feet on a flat surface, he or she will pick the feet up and down as if walking.
Remember the sucking reflex? This is an extension of that. Babies will put their thumbs in their mouths to explore or just as a comfort mechanism. Because the thumb is always there, your little one has an easy way of calming down at any moment. Also, just like the fetal position, developing children also sucked their thumb in the womb, so it makes sense that they’d continue this behavior outside of it.
Backwards sleep patterns
Your new baby may appear nocturnal at some point, sleeping during the day and being active at night. This is yet another side effect of spending time in the womb. Night and day don’t mean anything while inside mom, and in fact, being inside the womb is probably more like nighttime anyway. Don’t worry; a healthy baby will eventually realize that day means activityÂ and night means sleeping.
“Sneezing doesn’t necessarily mean your baby is sick.”
You may be alarmed to see or hear your newborn baby sneezing all of the time. Don’t worry; she probably isn’t sick. Sneezing helps newborns clear the nose of airborne particlesÂ and congestion. It also helps your baby open up a nostril, which can become smooshedÂ during feeding. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself covered in baby sneezes after nursing!
Human babies aren’tÂ likeÂ puppies or kittens; they can see as soon as they’re born. That said, newborns do have trouble focusing for the first two or three months. It’s also easier for them to look at objects from an angle, according to Cleveland Clinic. As the ocular muscles get stronger, your baby’s eyes will focus better.
So if you have a cross eyed, sneezy infant who poses like an archer, don’t be worried! These are all signs of a healthy baby. Take a deep breath (and lots of pictures to commemorate these first few moments).
Autumn Green is an artist-turned-writer who traded the sweet tea of the south for the deep dish pizza of Chicago. Her favorite subjects include art, culture, design, small business/entrepreneurship and healthful living.