5 Surprising Newborn Behaviors


Nurtured Foundation has offered doula services in the Cleveland and Akron areas for over 3 years.  During this time we have had the pleasure of working with many parents and newborns.  Newborn behaviors can be quite surprising for many.  We have found that these newborn behaviors below seem to be the ones that surprise parents the most.

We like to take the anxiety out of the postpartum period, so we have complied some common behaviors and explained why they are, why they are happening and assuring you they are normal.

Spit Up: Out the Mouth & Nose

Yep, you read it right.  Many parents are alarmed when they see milk shoot out the baby’s mouth or nose.   It happens.  Sometimes infants eat quickly and fill up their tummies.  Then when an air bubble (burp) comes up too fast or you lay baby down back flow occurs.  If forceful enough, it will shoot out baby’s mouth and sometimes their nose.  It can be scary for baby and parents.  While scary, it happens and it is considered normal.  I once had a pediatrician tell me that “100% of babies spit up, some more and some less”.  If baby seems to be in pain before and after it happens, always consult your pediatrician for advice.

Some simple ways to try and reduce spit up are:  to burp frequently during feeding, keep baby upright for 20 mins after a feeding and to elevate the crib/bassinet to have a slight incline.


Many of my clients are surprised at the amount of time a newborn sleeps, especially the first few weeks.  This is normal.  Newborns sleep 16-18 hours a day!  It is advised that they are awakened every 2-3 hours for feeding, but many go right back to sleep.  You will find that as time goes on, they will have longer periods of awake times.  If you were growing this quickly, you would sleep a lot too!

If you have a newborn that is very hard to rouse for feedings or will not stay awake long enough for a good feeding please see your pediatrician.  Excessive sleepiness may be a sign of dehydration.  A good rule of thumb is to have 6-8 wet/poopy diapers a day.  Less than that and your pediatrician should be called.

Noisy Sleep

We just discussed how newborns sleep most of the day and night away, but what most parents don’t realize is that newborns are noisy sleepers.  Baby is fed, swaddled and put into the bassinet sound asleep and walk away.  All of a sudden they hear all kinds of squeaks, grunts, groans and even cry outs.  They rush back over just to find their sleeping newborn.

Babies have active sleep phases.  During that time they are asleep, but not in a deep sleep. During this active sleep phase eyes flutter, they have irregular breathing, move and all kinds of noises are made.   At first, it can be a little unnerving, but it is completely normal!

If your baby seems to be wheezing or gasping during sleep, please consult your pediatrician immediately.

Throwing of Arms

Newborns throw their arms out frequently.  The motion is a reflex called the Moro Reflex.  It is a reflex in response to a sudden loss of support. It can be accompanied by crying, but not always.  It is a reflex that newborns have and it gradually lessens and disappears between three and four months.

Newborns throw their arms frequently.  This reflex can be triggered by laying them down, startling them, and even when sleeping.  Many parents worry that there is something wrong with their baby.  This is a normal, innate response and when it is missing is when there is cause for concern.

Many newborns awaken themselves with this reflex.  One of the best ways to prevent waking is to swaddle.  Swaddling keeps the arms secure and prevent the newborn from throwing their arms.  The security of the swaddle also allows for the caregiver to lay the newborn down without triggering the reflex.

Sneezing All the Time

Much to parent’s surprise newborns sneeze a lot! Most parent biggest concern is a cold or other illness.  Newborns sneeze for the same reason adults sneeze, to clear nasal passages. Newborns aren’t used to  all the particles and allergies in the air and are extra sensitive.  Babies also sneeze to reopen a nostril after nursing.  While nursing one nostril can become pressed against the breast and sneezing opens the nostril up.

If sneezing is accompanied by yellow or green nasal discharge or has a fever, please call your pediatrician.

Filed under: Challenges New Moms May Face, Newborns, Treatments and Your Options

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