14 surprising things about newborns

If you’re expecting your first baby, it’s hard to imagine just what your unique newborn will be like. You already know how adorable babies are. You might have read up on the practicalities of raising a baby, and you’re possibly prepared with all the necessary baby items.

But, there are things about newborns that will blow you away. We want to give you a heads up, so we asked our community of Newborn Baby mums what surprised them most about newborns. From their responses, we put together this list of 14 remarkable things so nothing will come as too much of a shock when the time comes for you to meet your baby.

14 surprising things about newborns

1. Babies don’t know instinctively how to latch

You would think that babies are born knowing what to do, but breastfeeding is a learning process for both mum and bub. Read Breastfeeding is natural but it can be difficult too

2. No one really warns you about cluster feeding

This is when bub wants to feed again at the end of a feed, and it can go on for hours. It can be unexpected and exhausting so prepare for it by learning more here: Cluster feeding – What’s it all about?

3. Newborns make strange little movements

The Moro reflex, otherwise known as the startle reflex, plus their jerky, twitching movements can seem unusual, but as their nervous system matures, you’ll see less of this behaviour. Swaddling your baby can help to reduce the startle reflex.

4. Every baby has their own unique smell

Present the instant a baby is born, a newborn’s smell varies from baby to baby. It lasts for a few weeks, but will gradually fade. The theory is that the baby’s vernix is the source of the smell. Read about newborn skin and what’s normal.

5. They sleep during the day and wake up at night

It’s biologically normal for a newborn to be sleepy during the day, and more awake at night in the early weeks and even the first few months until their circadian rhythm is established. Read our Ultimate sleep guide for newborns.

6. Newborns are sometimes noisy sleepers

It’s not unusual to have a bub who grunts and squirms a lot in their sleep. If you’re concerned, read Newborn grunting while sleeping at night and see your GP.

7. Babies can have body hair and lose the head hair they’re born with

Newborns can be covered in fine body hair called lanugo, but it’s temporary and will fall out. The same goes with their head hair – it will fall out at about 4 months and new hair will grow in its place!

8. Whilst completely dependent, they’re not as fragile as you’d think

Some parents feel nervous to begin with when they move, dress, or bathe them, but newborns are actually quite strong and resilient. However, one thing to pay careful attention to is the soft spot on their head, which is often another surprising thing about newborns.

9. Their poo is like nothing you’ve ever seen before

You will never have Googled poo more in your life. From projectile poo, thick tar-like black poo called meconium, and nappy explosions, prepare for it all (and all the extra loads of washing) by reading Baby poo: What is normal?

10. Their farts will astound you (and sometimes startle themselves)!

The sounds that will come from such a little body will certainly take you by surprise and entertain you.

11. How much you can love and understand someone who can’t verbally communicate

Isn’t that incredible how you can form such a bond and communicate with one another without needing any words. Cuddles go a long way, and you will be surprised at how many hours you will spend just gazing at them in awe.

12. Newborns don’t have tears when they cry

They don’t produce real tears until about 3 weeks of age, but mums often make up for those tears during that time thanks to hormones and the rollercoaster of emotions.

13. Babies usually prefer to be constantly held

For some ‘velcro’ newborns, you’ll struggle to put them down without it distressing them. This is normal and healthy. Humans are carry mammals, which means that newborns are hardwired to be close to their caregivers. If anyone tells you that holding your baby is a bad habit, please read Creating bad habits for baby: The myths that are harming new mums.

14. How fast they change and grow

The changes in them are so rapid – even from one day to the next you’ll swear they look different. There are periods when they grow out of their clothes before your eyes, and you’ll have moved to a new stage of development. Here’s a reminder of how fast time goes – savour your newborn.