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July 24, 2018

4 Safe Newborn Behaviors to Stop Worrying About

As a new mother, there can be many uncertainties when it comes to your baby. What’s normal, what’s not, and what is something that differs from baby to baby? To help ease some of your worry here are 4 Safe (and very normal) behaviors of babies that you can stop worrying about today!

1. Chin quivering -  “My baby’s chin shakes and quivers up and down, especially before feedings and after he’s been crying.”  These are the normal primitive reflexes of an immature nervous system. You might also see jitters or trembling of your baby’s arms and legs during crying and this too, is normal in newborns. It should stop by 1 to 2 months of age.

If your baby is jittery when not crying, it could be abnormal. Try giving him something to suck on as normal trembling should stop with sucking. Call your pediatric care provider immediately if the jittering continues when your baby is calm or if rhythmic jerking movements are seen.

2. Eye fluttering – “My baby’s eyes roll back in his head especially after breastfeeding or when he’s really tired.” Be assured that these are more expected, immature nervous system responses. Normal eye rolling can develop when your infant is awake, drowsy or transitioning between sleep and wakefulness.  Your infant’s underdeveloped vision system will take time to fully mature and function properly. When your baby drifts off to sleep, you may notice slow eye rolling as he opens and closes his eyes repeatedly. Stop worrying.

If your infant’s eye rolling is related to a serious problem, he’ll generally reveal other symptoms. Call your infant’s health care provider immediately if you also witness rapid or jerky movements on one or both sides of your baby’s body, a sudden change in skin color, irregular breathing or excessive irritability with inconsolable crying.

3. Squeaking – “My baby sounds like a chorus when he is sucking at my breast.”  While breastfeeding, breathing, sucking and swallowing are your baby’s first foray into multi tasking. He needs time to coordinate all those functions into one smooth suck, swallow and breathe continuum. Keep his head higher than his trunk when positioning him at your breast and always turn him belly to belly rather than forcing him to turn his head to the side to reach your nipple.

Many babies have Laryngomalacia - It’s called a normal abnormality in newborns, as it is quite common. The tissue just above your baby’s vocal cords might be especially soft causing it to flop into the airway when your baby takes a breath. This can cause partial (and I do mean partial) blockage of the airway, leading to noisy breathing, especially when your baby is on his back. You might find that this noisy breathing tends to get even louder in the first several months after birth. As muscle strength gradually improves, the noises disappear in nearly all infants.

In more than 90% of cases, the only treatment necessary for laryngomalacia is time. If you feel that your baby is having difficulty feeding, is not gaining weight appropriately or experiences frequent moments of sputtering when swallowing, call your pediatric care provider for a prompt in-office evaluation.

4. Hiccoughs – “My baby gets the hiccoughs every day!”  You probably felt them in utero too, that rhythmic, ticking kind of feeling. Your fetus was swallowing amniotic fluid and got the hiccoughs.  Why wouldn’t it continue once your baby is drinking your milk? Overfeeding and/or swallowed air, triggering the diaphragm muscle to go into spasms are believed to be the causes of this normal occurrence.  More frequent burping during the course of your breastfeeding session, especially when your baby has been gulping a rapid flow of milk, will serve to reduce his stomach distension and decrease the frequency of his hiccoughs. Stop worrying.

Expect the hiccoughs, like flatulence (farting) to continue for the rest of your baby’s life, diminishing over time into adulthood. It is a normal part of digestion. Think back to the last time you had hiccoughs as it can still be common (and normal!) in adults.

While many newborn behaviors and occurrences can get our attention, these listed above are surely very normal and just another part of your newborns journey. So relax, don’t worry, and enjoy this stage of your newborn’s life!


Paula Zindler
RN IBCLC



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