More mysterious but totally normal newborn behavior explained

Newborn babies sometimes mystify first-time parents with their behavior. A postpartum doula explains normal newborn behavior. Photo by papaija2008 courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

Newborn babies sometimes mystify first-time parents with their behavior. A postpartum doula explains normal newborn behavior. Photo by papaija2008 courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

If  you are new to the world of babies, there are some seemingly mysterious newborn behaviors that you may not know about but that are totally normal newborn behavior. Get familiar with this list and you won’t freak out when your baby

Cries, cries, cries  when you bathe him. Doula Hint: Invest in a Primo Infant Bath Seat and make sure the bath water is warm enough. Fill the sink partway up to the baby’s chest. And NEVER, EVER take your eyes, or hands, off the baby while bathing him.

Sleeps well only when held. Doula Hint: Co-sleep. Or get a sling or carrier so your baby can sleep while you do chores, take a walk, read to your toddler, answer emails or have a snack. (No cooking or eating hot foods though while baby is in the sling or carrier.)

Sucks on her fingers. Yes, even after you’ve  just fed her, she may want to suck on her hands, fingers or even your shirt. Sucking is, after all, a survival mechanism and your baby needs to be good at it. BTW: This is not newly learned behavior. Your baby started this COMFORT MEASURE in utero. And no, it will NOT likely turn her into a lifelong thumbsucker. If it’s just about time to feed your baby and you notice the sucking motions, good for you. You’ve picked up on an infant HUNGER CUE. If vigorous finger, fist, shoulder sucking begins after a feeding, it’s likely she is comforting herself. If in doubt, especially with a breastfed baby, always offer the breast again.

Yawns. It’s not only cute, it’s normal newborn behavior and  it’s a tired cue. Your baby needs to be helped to sleep right now. (Research confirms that only 5% of babies under four months of age are capable of putting themselves to sleep.) Swaddle her and hold her until she is soundly asleep. Then take a nap yourself. Doula Hint: Do NOT attempt to keep your baby awake when she exhibits her tired cue. Yes, she may stay awake another half hour. But  by the next time the urge to sleep overtakes her, she will likely be overtired and thus more difficult to help off to sleep. Heed her cues when you first notice them and do not allow her to be overstimulated or get over tired.

 

Elaine Petrowski is a certified postpartum doula (DONA) with more than a dozen years of experience . A postpartum doula is a professional,  with the mission of helping new parents to quickly gain confidence in their parenting skills. Contact Elaine at www.tendertimesdoula.com, 973-291-8200.

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