I had the privilege of seeing 5 newborns in clinic yesterday. As I found myself repeatedly talking about some of the quirky, lesser known, normal activities of newborns, I realized that there are things parents didn’t warn each other about. These are all NORMAL things in the newborn stage.
- Skin peeling. Babies have been swimming in “water” for 9 months. Being in so much fluid for so long, will make the skin peel in the first couple of weeks. Treat it by using a good, thick, hypoallergenic lotion a couple of times a day until it stops.
- Twitchy movements. Babies have a reflex called a Moro reflex. When startled, moved rapidly, or rolled to their backs, babies’ arms will quickly outstretch to the side and the hands will open wide. Their other muscles can randomly contract and twitch on occasion. Any persistent, rhythmic movement (like a seizure) should be seen by your doctor. Tip: Record with your phone those sorts of movements in case your baby doesn’t do it while you’re at the doctor’s office (that way your doctor can see if the movements are something to be concerned about).
- Funky breathing. Babies do something called periodic breathing. This is due to an immature nervous system. It goes away with time (first couple of months). In the beginning your baby may have short bouts where he/she breathes fast and then appears to stop breathing. These pauses can be many seconds long (think 10-20 seconds). If you aren’t aware of this quirky breathing pattern, it may make you think that your baby has stopped breathing.
- Gagging and spitting up. Gagging is especially true in the first couple of days of life if the baby was C-Section or a fast delivery. The baby may have remaining fluid in his/her lungs (from prior to birth) or have swallowed some of the amniotic fluid. It can take a couple of days for the baby to get all that junk out. Usually, the baby is still in the hospital during this period and the medical staff can help determine if steps (like sucking out the gunk) need to be taken to help the baby with the transition. After you get home with your baby, some spitting up is still normal. If it seems like a lot (every feed and most of the bottle), talk to your doctor.
- Eye rolling/crossing. Newborns have weak, eye muscles that aren’t very coordinated. It often takes a couple of months for the eyes to consistently start tracking properly. You will likely notice, more eye rolling, crossing, and wandering when the baby is tired.
As always, if there is anything you are particularly worried about, don’t be afraid to see your doctor. Hopefully knowing these normal things can save you time and co-pays. Enjoy your newborn!