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New Moms: What Are Normal Baby Behaviors?

May 18, 2017 12:00 PM with Dr. Molly Antoniolli

New moms have something to learn every day, and even more sources of information to learn from. Every baby develops differently, and it’s not always easy to tell what behaviors are normal and when you need to seek help. Need some advice? Join Dr. Molly Antoniolli, NorthShore Pediatrician, for an online chat on baby behaviors. She will share her expertise and answer your questions about topics like sleeping and eating habits, movement, socializing and verbalizing.

Colie (Moderator) - 12:00 PM:
Our baby behaviors chat is not open. You can submit your questions at any time during this chat.

Dr. Molly Antoniolli (NorthShore) - 12:01 PM:
Hi, I am Dr. Molly, one of the pediatrician's at NorthShore. Happy to start answering your questions!

  Alison (Evanston, IL) - 12:01 PM:
My newborn likes to roll on his side when he sleeps. Is this a problem? Do you have any recommendations for keeping him on his back?
Molly Antoniolli (NorthShore)
Hi Alison, Great question! Always start your newborn out on his back on a hard flat mattress/surface for sleep with nothing extra in the crib/bassinet. If he rolls onto his side on his own, that is fine!! Do not worry or risk waking him by putting him on his back. And do not put anything in the crib/bassinet to prevent him from rolling. When he is a few months old and starts fully rolling over, again put him down on his back but even if he rolls onto his belly himself, that is ok! Once he is making significant signs he is rolling, I would make sure his arms are not swaddled. Hope this helps!

  Nidhi (Skokie, IL) - 12:05 PM:
My baby is 8 months old. She still doesn't crawl on her knees. Though she sits and stands (with us holding her up). Should I be worried? Would one of those walkers help, where I put baby in the center with wheels?
Molly Antoniolli (NorthShore)
Hi Nidhi! Good question! As far as gross motor skills at 8 months, babies should be sitting up relatively well on their own (without support), rolling both ways, and bearing some weight on their legs. It sounds like she is doing all of these things! Crawling is not an "official milestone" and some babies skip it all together. Walkers are actually not recommended as we often see falls down stairs, or burns because babies get at things they are not supposed to. Additionally, some studies suggest that babies who use walkers often walk a bit later. So I would skip the walker for now. Sounds like your baby is developing normally, and your pediatrician should also review her development at her 9 month check up!

  Smruti (Gurnee,IL) - 12:12 PM:
My 6 month old wants me to hold him all the time. Is it normal?
Molly Antoniolli (NorthShore)
Hi Smruti! Some babies like to be held more than others and as long as he or she is otherwise developing/growing normally, it is not a concern. I would make an effort to do floor activities with your baby so that he or she can work on gross motor skills- sitting, rolling, bearing weight, head control, etc. As long as he or she is working on those skills, I would not worry too much about holding your baby too often! Sometimes baby carriers/wraps can be very useful for this reason. If you are worried about your baby's development or your baby is constantly fussy, I would check in with your pediatrician, but if all else is going well, try to enjoy the snuggles (although I know it can be exhausting!!). Hope that helps!

  Molly (Oak Law, IL) - 12:18 PM:
My baby girl is starting to teeth, and its lead to a lot of biting of myself and her older siblings. Is this normal? What can I do to make sure she doesn’t think this is okay?
Molly Antoniolli (NorthShore)
Hi Molly! This is completely normal! Your sweet girl has new teeth and is trying to test them out :) Additionally, babies in general like to put everything in their mouth. Although it is not abnormal, it is okay to give her a firm "no" and pull her away if needed. I then would replace the bitten body part with a teething toy. At this age she will not understand a "time out" or significant punishment, but redirecting her attention should be more effective. If you make a huge deal about the biting, she may be more apt to do it again to get that attention (negative attention is still attention!). I also found that putting a wet wash cloth in the freezer and then giving it to my girls was soothing for any teething pain. the orajels and teething tablets are not recommended. Hope this helps and good luck!

  Smruti (Gurnee,IL) - 12:25 PM:
I make baby food at home for my 6 mth old baby. Does he need any other vitamin or iron supplements as store bought is fortified?
Molly Antoniolli (NorthShore)
Good for you for making your own baby food! That is great! If you are exclusively breastfeeding/giving breast milk, breast milk is low in iron and vitamin D. Breast fed babies should be on a vitamin D supplement as long as he is exclusively getting breast milk (D-vi sol or Carlsons vitamin D baby drops are examples of over the counter vitamin D supplements). He may also need additional iron if you are not making baby food that has a high iron content. The rice cereal/oatmeal bought in the store are fortified with iron and is a good source of iron. You can double check with your ped if he needs additional iron. If he is getting a significant amount of formula, that in itself is fortified with iron and vitamin D and so the baby food you are making yourself and the formula should be giving him everything he needs!

  Heather (Arlington Heights, IL) - 12:35 PM:
My little one is approaching a year old and loves sucking his thumb. He’s my first, and I’ve heard so many different arguments about whether or not it’s okay for him to do this. Should I try to get him to stop at a certain age?
Molly Antoniolli (NorthShore)
Hi Heather! Thumb sucking is hard because you can't exactly take his thumb away ;) This is his comfort/soothing mechanism and that is ok!! Do not stress about this. The only time it might cause concern is if it affects the shape of his mouth or teeth, or goes on beyond five years of age (because it then will affect his teeth). To help stop the habit, different techniques work for different children. Some kids will respond to rewards (yours is too young for that), or sometimes remidning kids that thumb sucking is only for bedtime in an attempt to limit the amount of time they do it works. Often times it happens when kids become more self conscious and do not want other kids to know they suck their thumb. Check in with your ped and dentist (when he gets one) about it at well visits, but it is not something I worry too much about :)

  Ginger (Waukegan, IL) - 12:44 PM:
My son is 8 months old and he only wants me. My husband love to hold him to help and bond with him, but as soon as my son is out of my arms he starts crying. How long does this phase last?
Molly Antoniolli (NorthShore)
Hi Ginger. Thanks for the question! This is tough for all involved! You could probably use a break and would like to hand him over to Dad at times, and Dad's feelings may be hurt that your son only wants you! Reassure Dad that this is normal. This phase is different for every child and sometimes they will switch which parent they prefer. I would try to allow Dad to have some special time with your son alone (either they leave the house or you do), because as long as you are in the vicinity, it will be hard to separate him from you. It should get better if they are able to spend quality alone time together. Good luck!!

  Christie (Antioch, IL) - 12:50 PM:
I have a big family, and I am nervous about beginning to introduce my daughter to large groups of people since she seems to get antsier around strangers. What can I do to help socialize her?
Molly Antoniolli (NorthShore)
Hi Christie! "Stranger anxiety" is totally normal for infants and typically peaks around 9 months but can certainly start earlier (4-5 months) and last longer. I would try to start in smaller groups/gatherings and see how it goes. Remind your family/friends that it is normal for babies to get nervous around new people so that their feelings are not hurt if she refuses to go to them. You can also spend time with her at the park where there are groups of people and just let her observe. The more you spend time with family/groups, the more comfortable she will get. Good luck!

  Carrie (Joliet, IL) - 12:57 PM:
How long should I let my baby cry at 3 months? I have some friends who tell me to let them cry it out and others tell me to wait only a minute.
Molly Antoniolli (NorthShore)
Hi Carrie! Sleep training is a much debated question and often a lot of different factors play into the best method of sleep training. I would try to put your baby down sleepy but awake - try not to let her/him fall asleep with the bottle/breast or with rocking. It is okay to let them fuss for a few minutes. At 3 months he/she still may need to eat 1 time overnight, and so I would not let them "cry it out" per se. If they wake up overnight, I would give it a few minutes before going to them. If they are really upset, I would try to soothe them without necessarily picking them up and do not turn the lights on/make lots of noise. I typically talk to families about more formal sleep training or crying it out at 4 months at the earliest as long as baby is growing well. Hope this helps!

Colie (Moderator) - 1:05 PM:
This will be the end of our chat. Thank you for your questions. For more information, advice, or are just in need of some extra support, join Dr. Antoniolli's New Mom Support Group.

Dr. Molly Antoniolli (NorthShore) - 1:07 PM:
Thank you for participating and for all the great questions!! If you have concerns, you are never wrong to call your ped or you can come to my mom's group to ask questions/get support! I hope this was helpful!

This chat has ended.

Thank you very much for your participation.