Check out the PedsDocTalk YouTube Video: Weird Things Newborns Do for more information and guidance about common weird things newborns do, including newborn rashes, noises, movements, and body changes you may notice.
Your precious newborn is finally here – but you have so many questions! Is that noise they’re making normal? Is that rash something to be worried about? Why do they want to eat every single hour?
Newborns do some strange things that can be alarming to parents. Understanding what is expected and when to seek care from your child’s clinician can offer reassurance.
Many babies develop baby acne during the first 6 weeks of life. This rash is usually on the cheeks and nose and looks like teenage acne, with little raised red bumps. It’s best to do nothing, as it will go away on its own, and some products may irritate the skin. If their acne is very severe or lasts beyond two months, speak to your child’s clinician because sometimes they’ll recommend topical ointments to prevent scarring.
Many babies also develop cradle cap or greasy scales on their scalps or eyebrows. The scales can also appear as a yellow crusting. It’s thought to be caused by hormones. It goes away on its own, but you can also apply coconut oil on the scalp and use a soft brush to soften the scales if desired.
Newborns commonly have dry, peeling skin during the first weeks of life. This is because they were sitting in amniotic fluid for nine months, and they came out dry! You don’t need to do anything as this will resolve on its own. It is not itchy or bothersome to your baby, but if it’s cosmetically bothersome to you, you can use non-fragranced baby lotion or ointment.
Check out this PedsDocTalk resource for more baby care tips, including what to do about the umbilical cord, how often to bathe, whether to use soaps and ointments, how often to suction their nose, and MORE.
Parents are often concerned when their baby’s hands and feet appear blue. This is called acrocyanosis and is common due to normal limited blood flow to the area. This is usually noted within a few hours after birth and resolves as the newborn gets older. This self-resolves and is nothing to worry about. Let your child’s clinician know there is blueness on their face or chest.
A common feeding concern is the fluctuations in the feeding patterns of newborns, mainly breastfed babies. It’s common for babies to cluster feed or feed more frequently than they normally do when they are trying to build up their mom’s milk supply at various stages. Follow your baby’s lead and offer feeds when feeding cues are noted. Cluster feeding is typically short-lived, and your feeding rhythm should return to normal. If you’re concerned your baby isn’t gaining weight or making wet diapers, speak to their clinician.
Newborns also often have jerky movements. When startled, they will jerk their arms upward. When sleeping, they will jerk, sometimes waking themselves up. Those movements are expected due to a developing neuromuscular system. If you notice rhythmic jerking with eye rolling or jerking that cannot be stopped when you apply pressure to the extremity, speak to your child’s clinician.
Parents commonly report their newborn is noisier than they anticipated. Babies make so many odd sounds! They hiccup often – they should not bother your baby, and you don’t need to try any interventions to stop them. Hiccups will go away on their own. Sneezing in newborns is similar – it does not mean they are sick or have allergies. No intervention is needed for sneezing unless they seem congested and bothered, in which case you can use nasal saline and suction. Let your child’s clinician know if they are acting ill or have a fever over 100.4 degrees.
Newborns also make so many noises in their sleep. They will grunt, whimper, cough, and sneeze while asleep. If your baby is awake and in distress, meaning you can see their ribs pulling in, they’re breathing faster than normal, or you notice any color change, bring them to their clinician for evaluation. Otherwise, keep them in a safe sleeping space; there is no need to watch them or worry about these noises while they sleep. As they get older, those noises typically resolve.
Another common concern is when a baby breathes fast and takes a second or two to take their next breath. This is called periodic breathing and is very common. A more advanced and rhythmic breathing pattern will develop with time, and no intervention is needed. Speak to your child’s clinician if your baby’s breathing is constantly fast, with any color change or ribs retracting quickly in and out.
It may be unnerving as a parent to see your baby’s eyes going in every direction or appearing cross-eyed, but this is common in newborns! The muscles controlling the movement of their eyes are still strengthening. This should resolve by six months of age. Let your child’s clinician know If it persists past this point or if your baby is not tracking objects by 2 months of age.
You may also notice discharge coming from your baby’s eyes. This is likely caused by a blocked tear duct, which should spontaneously resolve by one year of age. You can wipe away the mucus with a wet washcloth and massage the inner eye with your clean finger or a Q-tip. Talk with your child’s clinician if you notice redness in or around the eye or if it doesn’t resolve by one year of age.
Newborn breasts and genitalia
Some babies have breast buds or little lumps under their nipples – both boys and girls can be affected. This is believed to be due to exposure to hormones while in utero. This will resolve with time and does not require intervention. Don’t touch, pinch, or squeeze it, as this can bother them! Let your child’s clinician know if the breasts appear red or if there is discharge.
Some parents will see a little blood noted in their newborn daughter’s diaper or a small amount of blood when they wipe her. Vaginal bleeding is common after birth and is thought to be from maternal hormones, mimicking a mini period. It’s also common to see vaginal discharge. Both are common and will resolve with time.
For boys, it’s common for their testicles to appear larger than expected. This is typically due to a hydrocele or excess of fluid in the scrotum surrounding the testicle. It is painless and harmless and usually goes away on its own by one year of age. Let your child’s clinician know if this persists past one year of age or if the testicles appear red or blue.
Still have more questions?
Check out this PedsDocTalk resource for more weird things about newborns so you know what to expect and are prepared!