By all outward appearances, babies seem pretty transparent. They fuss when they're uncomfortable, sleep when they're tired and, well, that's about it, especially when they're newborns.
In reality, babies are much more complicated than they seem. Here are ten of the most surprising things I learned about babies while raising three of my own.
Babies Have Super Strength. Babies may not seem strong, but they pack a surprising wallop. If me and my near-shattered nose can offer one piece of advice, it's this -- stay away from a baby's legs. Get too close to a kicking baby and he WILL beat you up. Take my word for it.
Babies are Master Manipulators. I thought my kids would remain innocent for some time, but they all quickly learned how to laugh and cry (usually in the middle of the night) when they wanted attention. Who knew babies could be so cute and manipulative at the same time?
Babies Have More Bones Than Adults, But No Kneecaps. I once read in a parenting book that babies have more bones than adults. And yet, they initially have no bony kneecaps, which probably explains how my kids were able to contort themselves into impossible positions and even eat their own feet. Yum!
Babies Have Sophisticated Hearing. I didn't expect babies to be truly sensitive to the world around them so quickly, but all my kids were able to pinpoint sounds soon after birth and even react to my voice. Yes, babies have bionic ears.
Babies Can't Regulate Their Body Temperature. It seems like such a basic thing, but I learned fast that babies can't regulate their body temperature and often require an extra layer of clothing no matter what the weather is like outside. More laundry? Oh yeah.
Babies Sleep a Tremendous Amount. Bleary-eyed parents often complain about lack of sleep, but, for what it's worth, my kids slept A LOT as babies, up to 16-17 hours a day. Problem is, they usually did so in naps of 2-4 hours at a time. When they were around six months of age, they were all finally capable of sleeping through the night, but there was no chance of catching up on my massive sleep debt by then.
Babies Have Incredible Eyesight. By the time my kids were three-months-old, they were able to distinguish between different faces. They would react positively when my wife and I held them, for example, and yell their heads off when others attempted it. Sorry, Nana, it's nothing personal.
Babies Can't Cry. It blew my mind when I first saw one of my kids go on a crying jag without tears. Our pediatrician told us that babies don't have fully-formed tear ducts when born, which was an interesting factoid, but didn't offer much solace from the screaming.
Babies Have a Well-Developed Sense of Taste. To my surprise, my kids became picky eaters soon after birth and instantly showed a preference for sweet foods and a disdain -- if their grimaces were any indication -- for things that were sour and bitter.
Babies Practically Have Mental Powers. I once soundly banged my toe against a piece of furniture while playing with one of my children. My kid, who was barely one-year-old at the time, couldn't really understand what was happening, but his mood instantly changed to match mine. Of course, he was probably just reading my facial expression and body language, but it almost seemed like a psychic power to me. Get out of my head, baby.
Donald S. Deane is the proud papa of three little boys who provide endless amounts of joy and sleep deprivation. He has held a variety of jobs, including college English teacher, newspaper reporter/editor, internet project manager, dishwasher and dogcatcher. Don has written for AOL TV, Moviefone, TheFW, ScreenCrush, GuySpeed, and Arcade Sushi, among others.
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.