For many new moms and dads, babies can be straight-up strange, from their peeling little heads down to their herky-jerky little legs. Here, a look at the top six weird and wacky baby-isms, which are actually quite common, says Dr Susan Zona O’Byrne, a New York-based pediatrician who sees more than 100 newborns a year.
1) YOUR ‘TEENAGE’ BABY
According to Dr Zona-O’Byrne, 50 percent of newborns display signs of baby acne — red bumps or blotches of pimples on their cheeks — one month after birth. “Parents call and think it’s an allergy, but it’s actually related to maternal hormones.” Use a moisturizing lotion like Aquafor on the skin one to two times a day, she advises. It can take up to four to six months for baby acne to subside, but don’t worry — your precious one’s skin will be smooth and clear before you know it.
2) SUNBURNED HAIRLINE
Not quite. Oftentimes, babies that present with acne are also plagued by a peeling scalp as well, says Dr Zona O’Byrne — yet another strange side effect caused by the passing of maternal hormones during birth. (Many docs believe that these Mommy hormones set the baby’s oil-producing glands into overdrive.) Commonly known as “cradle cap,” this dandruff-like condition, which can also cause thick, scaly brown flakes around the scalp, is harmless. “Rub baby oil to loosen flakes up and then wash it out, once a day,” she says, “or use Nizoral, an over-the-counter anti-dandruff shampoo, once or twice a week.”
3) NO DAD DIDN’T MESS UP THE UMBILICAL CORD
Before you blame Dad for baby’s swollen belly button or bulge near your little one’s navel, recognize that it is most likely an umbilical hernia, not uncommon in babies — especially premature babies. “The belly button will bulge out when the baby cries, then reduce, or go back in,” says Dr O’Byrne. Over time, it will slowly close. “If it persists over the age of 6, surgery may be necessary, but in most cases, it gets smaller and reduces on its own.”
4) BABY BOOBS?
For many new parents — dads, especially — a baby boy with boobs is quite distressing. Even weirder may be if your baby’s “breasts” actually produce milk! This is a very short-lived side effect, and is simply caused by maternal hormones.Enlarged breasts or lumps under the nipple areas affect approximately 30-40 percent of babies — girls and boys — are considered normal up to age two, however, “only a small percentage (5 percent) persists over the age of 1.”
5) CROSSED EYES
Don’t worry — your baby’s eyes aren’t going to stay that way. “At birth, babies have difficulty focusing and the muscles in their eyes aren’t fully developed,” explains Dr O’Byrne. Cross-eyes can persist up to four months, she adds. In some cases, your baby’s eyes aren’t truly crossed — it’s just his wee little face size with proportionally large eyes that make it look that way for awhile.
6) HERKY-JERKY BABY SPASMS?
Some parents get nervous when their newborn baby jerks in her sleep. You may think you have a baby that startles easy, but it’s actually their Moro reflex kicking in — also called the startle reflex — which causes the baby to react to sudden movement (real or perceived) by throwing his or her arms out with hands open. This is all normal — and desired from a neurological perspective — for babies, and may last until they’re about six months old.