Your new baby comes bundled with a whole lot of surprises.
But we’re not talking about the wonderful surprise of awesome new baby love, or that new baby smell (wayyyyy better than “new car smell” any day).
We mean the surprises that no one talks about. The new baby behaviors that get parents scratching their heads in a mix of exhaustion, confusion, and wonder.
Because, well, they were just that: unexpected.
Relax. These things are temporary – and though they’re tough now, they’ll pass in the blink of an eye.
And here at EcoCentric Mom, we want to help you out. Each of the 6 unexpected new baby behaviors and events on our list comes with an actionable “Super Mommy tip” to help you get through those really tough moments.
So you can sail on through anything that baby will throw your way. (Even trapped gas!)
Now, let’s jump right in!
1. New baby burping nerves
Whether bottle-fed or nursing, you were told you have to burp your baby regularly. But HOW exactly? Newborns are tiny, gentle things, and just the mere thought of burping just looks (and feels) impossible, far too rough-seeming for your little one’s delicate constitution.
But it’s absolutely vital that you burp them…because trapped gas is far, FAR worse than any round of nervous-new-parent burping (see #2 below).
Over the shoulder is the easiest way to do it.
Place their chest on your shoulder, and hold your baby in place with one arm while you massage their back (in circles – works a treat) gently with the other.
Super Mommy tip: Swaddle or wrap your baby before burping. The cloth will stop them wiggling randomly – making it easier to cradle their heads and necks while lifting them into a burping position.
2. The trapped gas cry-athon
The bane of new parents everywhere, trapped gas is one of the hardest things to get through with a new baby.
When our stomachs hurt, we can drink mint tea, go for a walk, or take charcoal supplements.
Babies? They cry.
And it’s so much harder to get trapped gas out of a baby when they’re all tensed up and crying.
So aside from making sure you burp baby after every feeding, try these methods to get the gas out (and your sanity back) –
- Lying them on their back and massaging their stomach gently in counter-clockwise circles, OR
- Swaddling them, holding them in an upright position and doing squats (the up-down movement always settles them quickly – plus its great for toning your legs!)
Super Mommy tip: I’ve used Gripe Water with each of my 4 babies and it’s always helped! Give it to your baby by mixing it with water, organic formula, or pumped milk – or by using a glass dropper or medicinal syringe. When giving it to your baby, just remember to aim the dropper or syringe for the inside of their cheek, not the back of their throat – because they can spit it up right back at you!
3. Catnaps (or lack thereof)
Lions – and really, most cats – sleep for something like 20 hours a day.
Your baby does too…only sometimes those 20-odd hours are broken up into hundreds of 20-min catnaps.
Everyone tells you to “rest while baby’s resting.” But no one tells you what to do when your new baby doesn’t let you sleep!
My first child slept a lot…but only in 30-45 minute blocks. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep either – day OR night.
When I rocked up to my first post-partum check-up, pale and bleary-eyed, I wearily told the nurse: “She doesn’t sleep long. And she cries. A lot.”
She took one look at my daughter and said, “Honey, she’s exhausted.”
Grabbing a burp cloth, she covered her stroller seat and literally in seconds my baby was out like a light.
Turns out, my baby was suffering from sensory overload. It’s a very common problem in newborns. Too much noise, light, and movement were preventing my daughter from sleeping a full sleep cycle.
Try to make sure wherever baby falls asleep, the room is (mostly) dark and more or less quiet. At home it’s easy – just place them in their crib, shut the shade or dim the light and close the door. But if you’re out? Put a blanket or burp cloth (at least temporarily) over their stroller to help them disengage from their busy environment and relax enough to fall asleep when they’re tired.
Super Mommy tip: If your baby is struggling to fall – or stay – asleep, try rocking them gently in their stroller or patting their mattress if they’re lying in their crib. If baby fusses a short while after falling asleep, don’t pick him or her up right away. More often than not, they’ll fall back asleep by themselves. Picking them up too often can actually backfire and wake them up more!
4. Developmental blues
You’ve ridden out the first few rough weeks, and life with your new baby is settling down. They’re sleeping more. You’re sleeping more. That Mt. Everest of dirty laundry is finally getting tackled.
Then suddenly – BOOM.
Baby starts crying at random. Wants to be held all the time. Starts waking up more at night (again).
And it happens just when you thought things were leveling out. It’s super frustrating.
It happens to many moms – though many shrug it off as gas, colic, teething, or weird baby stuff.
But at around 6-8 weeks, 3-4 months, and 6 months, you’ll notice a rapid change in your baby’s behavior (sometimes overnight).
The cause? Your new baby is going through a massive developmental change. They’re learning to smile, to babble, to roll over, sit up, or even swallow food. And that’s absolutely HUGE.
So no wonder they’re cranky and restless: their brains are busy fixing new neural pathways, and their emotions/hormones are all over the place.
Take a deep breath – THIS WILL PASS. It might take 2-3 days or even a week, but soon your baby will be back to normal. (But with a super-cool new trick to show you )
Super Mommy tip: These times are tough but they blow over quickly. Do what works for you to make life easier for yourself in the meantime. Walk them in the stroller if they’re struggling to fall asleep without fear of creating a ‘bad habit’. Make PB&J sandwiches for dinner if they refuse to be put down. Whatever it takes to reduce the pressure.
5. Cluster feeds
Coinciding with the developmental blues at #4 are the cluster feeds. More common in nursed – rather than bottle-fed – babies, cluster feeds are the equivalent of being an on-demand barista for a tiny, caffeine-addicted customer.
They have two purposes – (1.) so baby can help increase your milk supply to meet their growing need, and (2.) to help baby settle through growth spurts.
But nursing as frequently as 1 or 2 times per hour is tiring and makes your back and shoulders ache. Not to mention, it gives you no time (or free hands) to make yourself a green smoothie.
Super Mommy tip: Try to make each feeding session as relaxing as possible. Our fave tip is to nurse lying down. This way, you get to rest while baby goes about his business. Just make sure you put a barrier on the far side of the bed (behind baby’s back, but not in danger of covering baby’s face) – a hard pillow is excellent for this).
6. Make-believe teething
Around the 4-month mark, babies are usually excited, alert, and interactive.
They smile (isn’t it wonderful?!), they babble, and they even sleep better.
But then they start chewing every darn thing in sight.
Your fingers. A pen. A spoon. Anything they can get their hands on goes straight into their mouth. And we’re talking about serious chewing. When my son started doing it, my husband thought he was going to chew his finger to the bone.
Some might think excitedly that their first teeth are coming through. However, this rarely happens so early in your baby’s development.
What’s really going on is a learning exercise. Baby is learning about their world and the different materials (soft, hard) and textures (rough, smooth) in it, by feeling them with their mouth.
So while a few of your personal items might get unexpectedly covered in baby spit (especially your car keys – what’s up with that?), but it’s totally normal.
Super Mommy tip: Stuff can be dirty, so designate a couple of toys or items as your baby’s special chewing toys. Keep them handy for when he or she gets the urge to chew – this will make sure baby’s mouth stays free of wandering germs and dirt. Plus, a baby bandana stops baby drool from going everywhere!
What do you think of our list of unexpected new baby behaviors? Would you add anything to it? Or do you have any Super Mommy tips of your own to share?
Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
A freelance copywriter and content strategist, Eden is also a crunchy, eco-mom to 4 healthy kids (under the age of 6!). When not busy writing, she loves getting her hands dirty by making her own yogurt, mixing homemade laundry detergent, or chasing her kids in the garden with a Super Soaker.