There are a lot of things that babies do that totally freak new parents out and make them ask, “Is this normal or is my baby weird?” As a pediatrician, I totally understand the fear and concern, so I want to quickly address the three most common “weird things” newborns do to put all the worried parents out there at ease.
Babies hiccup ALL the time, and that’s completely normal. Parents often worry that they did something wrong or fed them incorrectly and that’s why baby is hiccupping all the time, but that’s not the case. Because baby’s brain is still developing, they can’t yet suppress that hiccupping reflex once it gets started, so it happens quite often. There’s nothing parents can do to stop or prevent it, and there’s also nothing to worry about when it happens.
This concern is very understandable and upsets a lot of parents at first. They bring their newborn home from the hospital, and all of a sudden, baby starts sneezing all the time. Naturally, parents assume that the baby is allergic to their dog, cat, or something else in the house, which can be very upsetting. Again, this is just a reflex that babies can’t yet suppress. When their brains are still developing, they’ll have five sneezes in a row, but it’s completely normal and will eventually stop.
This issue is, by far, the most concerning to parents, for good reason. Babies often have odd breathing patterns where they’ll breathe very slowly for a period of time, and then very fast for a period of time. Typically, this looks like 10-30 seconds of slow breathing, 10-30 seconds of fast breathing, and alternates in that pattern. As scary as it is, “periodic breathing,” as it’s called, is 100% normal.
As adults, we’re very good at regulating our carbon dioxide levels. We breathe as fast as we need to breathe off as much carbon dioxide and take in as much oxygen, as we need. Babies, however, don’t do that very well. Their brains aren’t good at regulating that process yet. They’ll breathe very fast and breathe off all their carbon dioxide, so their brains compensate by breathing slowly again so that they build that carbon dioxide back up in their blood. Scary to a lot of parents, but again, TOTALLY normal.
So this, but no means, covers all of the “weird” things that babies do that often concern parents, but it does explain some of the scarier ones that really seem to worry new moms and dads. Of course, if you EVER notice something unusual or feel uneasy about something your baby is doing, ALWAYS consult your own pediatrician. More times than not, it’s something totally normal and explainable, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.