Skip to main content

5 bizarre baby behaviors that are actually totally normal

Bringing home your first baby is a wonderful time. But joy and love aren’t the only feelings new parents have when it comes to getting to know their newborn. Babies, though soft, snuggly, and sweet-smelling beings, can be confusing and stressful little creatures sometimes, especially if you’ve never had one before! In between the diaper changes, nighttime feedings, and recovery from childbirth, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and stressed out, especially when your baby is doing things you never expected them to do.

Don’t worry, though. Many of those bizarre jerks and movements, the strange quirks of behavior no one covered in your parenting class or prenatal appointments are totally normal and nothing to worry about. Here are a few of the strange and wonderful things newborns do that may seem odd but are actually normal. Of course, you should never hesitate to mention any concerns to your pediatrician.

Parents smiling while holding newborn
Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

1. Crossing their eyes

When babies are new, they’re still learning how to control all their parts, eyes included! If your bundle of joy seems to go cross-eyed frequently, it’s most likely nothing to worry about. They’re just learning how their eyes work. Similarly, when young babies sleep, sometimes their eyelids don’t close all the way or at all, and you may see their eyes moving rapidly back and forth. This is what we look like when we’re in the REM phase of sleep. It’s perfectly normal and you likely wouldn’t even notice it if your little angel’s eyes were closed.

2. Jerky movements

One of the most common questions new parents have is regarding their baby’s jerky, sudden limb movements. If your baby is constantly kicking their legs and moving their arms or making jerky movements, it’s totally normal.

Called the Moro reflex or startle reflex, it’s characterized by a sudden movement of arms or legs in response to stimuli, like a door closing or a dog barking. It can be unsettling for new parents when their newborn’s arms or legs suddenly go rigid, but it’s a normal reflex that typically disappears by about 2 months of age. If you think your baby’s Moro reflex is severe or otherwise concerning, don’t hesitate to take a video to show your pediatrician.

3. Gagging

As your little one ages and starts solid food, you might notice gagging when they eat. It can be a scary sight, and many parents assume their baby is choking. Gagging when starting solids is a typical developmental quirk and happens as a baby learns to manipulate food with their tongue. The motion brings food forward into the front of their mouth and helps them learn to chew.

In a younger baby, gagging might be a sign that the flow of milk or formula entering their mouth is too fast. If your little one gags on the bottle or breast, consider changing bottle nipple size or expressing your milk after letdown occurs. Gagging can also be a sign of acid reflux in infants, so if your baby continues to gag after you’ve addressed any flow issues, you should mention this to your pediatrician.

4. Smiling

While it’s adorable to see a smile on your baby’s face, the fact is until they’re about 4 months old, babies don’t actually smile. That little grin you see peeking out of the swaddle probably means your newborn has gas. It’s not uncommon for infants to form a smile when they’re trying to relieve some pressure, but don’t worry, they’ll start smiling at you in earnest very soon.

Newborn smiling while asleep
Natalia Hirshfeld

5. Constantly dropping things

When babies are new, if they drop a toy, they assume it’s gone forever and may be surprised when you hand it back to them. That’s because they haven’t yet developed the concept of object permanence — the idea that just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it stops existing. At around 6 months, object permanence begins to develop. Little ones commonly begin dropping or throwing anything they can get their hands on just to see it return like magic when you hand it back to them.

Don’t worry, there’s likely nothing wrong with their hands or grip, but if they continue dropping things after around 15 months old, or if they seem to be dropping things frequently but unintentionally, it might be worth mentioning to your pediatrician.

All in all, babies can be mysterious and sometimes scary creatures to new parents. Luckily, most of the bizarre things they do are 100% normal developmental quirks that will pass with time.

Editors' Recommendations

Kristi Pahr
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Kristi is a professional writer and mother of two. When she's not writing or playing chauffeur to her kids, she enjoys…
The most popular baby girl nicknames that are so cute and unique they might surprise you
Baby girl nicknames that just might stick around for years
Surprised baby girl

You probably spent a lot of time choosing the perfect name for your baby girl. After all, it's an important decision. Using nicknames is a popular thing to do. So, you may not end up calling your daughter by her given name. If a sweet nickname evolves and sticks as she grows up, her given name may only come up when you're trying hard to get her attention. We all know that as a precious little baby, you're bound to try out some of the many cute nicknames parents use on their new bundles of joy. These baby girl nicknames are sweet, funny, and unique, and could be fun to use if you haven't caught yourself using them already.
Not sure what nickname is perfect for your little one? We've compiled over 150 nicknames perfect for baby girls, and while some you might expect something like Sweetie Pie or Honey Bun, some are unexpected and may make you giggle, like Doodlebug and Banana Muffin. Some baby girl nicknames are based on personality. Others are based on appearances, and some are based on ... well, nothing at all. This list may inspire you with what precious nickname to call your own little girl.

Nicknames based on names
The term nickname actually has a pretty long history. Its origins date back to the 14th century. The first baby girl nicknames were ones based on the name people chose for their daughter. For example, Maggie, Midge, and Peggy are nicknames for Margaret. The name Elizabeth has quite a few nicknames attached to it, such as Lizzie, Beth, Liza, Betty, Betsy, and even Libby. So, if you're looking for a cute nickname for your daughter, you may want to start with her name. Here are some baby girl nicknames derived from given names.

Read more
When do babies start talking? Should you be concerned if yours isn’t?
Learn why baby babbling is music to a parent's ears
Father talking to his infant child

Baby's first year is such an exciting time. As new parents, we are amazed at all those milestones, like rolling over and baby's first smile. One milestone many parents anxiously await is baby's first words. Will it be "mama" or "dada?" The more important question, though, may be, "When do babies start talking?"

A baby' speech development actually begins at birth. The sounds they hear, including their parents, talking is a vital step in speech development. So, when should your baby be saying those exciting first words, and should you be worried if yours isn't talking yet?
When do babies start talking?
As with all of those memorable milestones, when a baby begins to talk falls within a range. Most babies will say that treasured first word somewhere between 12 and 18 months. Once that first word comes out, it won't be long before baby is putting small words together like "up ma."

Read more
Can these methods really help predict your baby’s gender? Get the scoop here
Find out if these baby gender predictors are accurate
A couple holding a gender reveal balloon

Having a baby is one of the most exciting times in a person's life and one that involves making a lot of decisions. Before you even get pregnant, you may have already decided if you're going to find out the sex of your baby or let it be a surprise. Some people want to know in advance so they can plan accordingly, while others are happy to wait until the baby arrives to find out if they are having a boy or a girl.
Regardless of how you feel about the subject of baby gender predictors, people are going to share their opinions on whether you're having a boy or a girl, and the reasons for those opinions! So can those old wives' tales and different methods of gender predicting really help tell you your baby's sex? Maybe, or maybe not! Let's explore the different ways to determine a baby's gender.

When it comes to determining the sex of your unborn baby, the ultrasound is the gold standard. Throughout any person's pregnancy, they will undergo a series of ultrasounds to ensure the baby is growing accordingly, and an ultrasound technician can typically determine the baby's sex during an anatomy scan anywhere between 18 and 22 weeks of pregnancy.

Read more