7 Weird Things Babies Do and Why
Whether it's touching themselves "down there" or producing never-ending hiccups, Parenting helps moms understand their little ones' most peculiar habits.
Weird behavior #4:SHE'S ALL SHOOK UP
One minute, your baby's lying there calmly. The next, she's trembling the way you did when you got your nursery-furniture bill. What's going on?
That's a nervous-system blip, says Davies. "Neurologically, babies are just not very good at regulating their movement at first, and you may see a little jerkiness. It's just part of the maturation process," she explains.
Of course, check her hands to see if she feels cold. While you might shiver a little when you catch a chill, a newborn can quiver much harder, says Vishton. "Babies are born relatively thin, since they have to fit in their mothers' bodies," he explains. Your little one simply doesn't have much padding to help her regulate her body temperature. And she can't do the things you do when a breeze passes, like fold her arms across her chest or grab a sweatshirt. That's where trembling comes in handy: When muscles tense and relax rapidly, it generates heat. Give her an extra layer of clothing and see if it helps.
If your child trembles often, and cries along with it, that's worth a call to your pediatrician. But the occasional shiver? find something else to stress about (now where did that paci go?).
Weird behavior #5:HER HICCUPS RUNNETH OVER
Don't you hate when you get the hiccups? The way that -- hic! -- you can't seem -- hic! -- to go even five seconds without -- hic! Well, your jags may be annoying, but they also may be nothing compared to your baby's. She can contort herself in those little spasms for minutes at a time.
Infant hiccups are a bit of a mystery, but there is a theory. "Your baby's swallowing and breathing abilities aren't fully synchronized yet," says Vishton. "She may try to swallow at the same time she draws a breath, and that's what sets it off." And the reason it lasts so long? "She's also still learning how to untangle these bad patterns, so it simply takes her longer than it takes an adult or even an older child to get back to normal," Vishton says. Nursing her or giving her a bottle may help.
If she's still in a hiccup holding pattern, think about taking her someplace quiet. "Hiccups can also be a sign that your baby's feeling overwhelmed by her environment," explains Davies. "New-borns aren't good at blocking out noise when they're awake." Try a room away from big sibs, pets, and the TV. Turn the lights down low, too, and your babe should be hiccup-free before long.
Weird behavior #6:SHE'S DEVELOPING A COUGHY HABIT
You're just doing your own thing around the house when suddenly you hear your baby start hacking. You rush to see what's wrong, and the answer is: nothing. In fact, she's grinning naughtily as she loudly, and theatrically, coughs again, then waits for your reaction. She's a faker! A cute faker, but a faker! Should you keep a poker face, even though it's pretty darn funny?
Go ahead and laugh. She's too young to understand the story of the boy who cried wolf, and besides, her behavior is charming proof that she's growing more socially aware. "Around six months, when the fake coughing first begins, babies are really starting to get how the world works," says Vishton. "Your child has noticed that when someone coughs, you're very solicitous, so she's doing it to get some attention." Give her the interaction she's craving -- smile and even fake-cough back. "There's no harm," says Vishton. "It's just hilarious."
Weird behavior #7:HE'S HAVING A JUNIOR MOMENT
Last week you cheered as your baby finally shook a rattle or rolled across the floor. Now you hand him his Wiggly Giggler and he just holds it with a "What do you want from my life?" look in his eyes, or lies sunny-side up without flipping onto his tummy. (Naturally, this occurs when you've gathered the in-laws to check out his new trick.) How could it have slipped his mind?
The same way you forget things you thought you knew, like how to program the DVR, says Vishton. "Sometimes, even after we've successfully performed a task several times, we have an incomplete memory of how we accomplished it," he explains. And a DVR to you is what a rattle is to your child. "Kids forget to do things that seem so simple to us because they're actually complex to them," he says. Another possibility: A new setting -- say, Grandma's house instead of yours -- has made him a little disoriented. Or it isn't that your child has forgotten a new ability, it's just been back-burnered. "Sometimes it's a good thing when it seems like your child abruptly stopped doing something he's learned, even if he didn't learn it so long ago -- it means he's moving on," Davies says. And so will you -- to wondering how the first puzzling but precious year blew by so fast.