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parents panel

'How often should newborns blink?': 16 parents share their strangest late-night Google searches

How many breaths should my baby take in a minute? What is ‘the plug’?

WHEN IT COMES to being pregnant, or parenting a newborn, everyone’s just figuring things out as they go. That’s why it can be so helpful to hear how other people are getting through the mess of it all, from the first nappy change to the countless sleepless nights.

Our Newborn and Baby Parents Panel is made up of parents and parents-to-be, all raising little ones aged up to 24 months.


This week, we asked parents to share the weirdest baby-related thing they’ve looked up online, and the answers will likely crack you up. 

How often do babies blink? We have googled a lot of baby-related things in the wee hours since he was born three months ago, but I think the strangest to date was “how often do babies blink”?  While watching my son stare wide-eyed at me. I laugh thinking of it now, but in the moment it was a genuine scare worrying that he didn’t have the blinking reflex! 

- Kristi Paris

How many breaths should my baby take in a minute? I remember one night, lying awake watching my new baby breathing. You know the real deep belly breathing which I now know is normal? I googled how many breaths per minute should a new baby take, and then I opened the stopwatch on my phone and timed her breathing. One of numerous middle of the night freak outs I have had since becoming a mammy. 

- Claire Kodjo

What should my baby’s poo look like? In one particularly memorable episode of Am I Parenting Right? – and after a few relatives passed comment on my baby’s nappy -myself and my husband googled “what should my baby’s poo look like?” Not only that- we went to Google Images to get visual explanations! Picture us, both on our sofa, Googling and comparing results, and indexing against our daughter’s nappy contents! 

- Kathryn Walsh

Why does my baby sound like a farm animal? With my first baby I Googled everything! He used to grunt and snort and make the weirdest noises in his sleep – or he’d also intermittently lift his legs up in the air in his sleeping bag and slam them down on the mattress like a whale’s tail, which was terrifying at 3am.

- Valerie Murray

shutterstock_1403545763 Shutterstock / chomplearn Shutterstock / chomplearn / chomplearn

Is it wrong to sleep when my baby is awake? I can remember Googling this when my baby was a few days old. She would spend most of the night wide awake, so I was wrecked! Thankfully, she started sleeping through at eight weeks and I started to feel relatively normal again…

- Amy Molyneaux

How bad should a cough be before going to the doctor? My GP is fond of prescribing antibiotics or steroids for anything so most of my googling was trying along the lines of ‘how bad should a baby’s cough be to go to doctor” or rash or temperature or nappies, etc, to avoid going over small things and pickling the baby with too many drugs! 

- Siobhan Mehigan 

Can my newborn sleep with a dummy in his mouth? When my son was a few days old, there was one night in particular that he wouldn’t settle after his feed, I remember me and my husband having a conversation about was it okay to give a newborn a dummy. As first time parents, we didn’t have a clue, I remember googling whether we could let the baby sleep with it in his mouth. When we think back on it now, we still laugh about it.

- Julie Ann Walsh 

Should my umbilical stub smell? I can remember Googling “is it normal for an umbilical cord stub to smell when healing?” because no one warns you about that one! The health nurse giggled when I asked her later (not believing the 2am “it’s normal to some degree” Google results) and said everyone asks the same thing.

- Jess Mushanski

What is ‘the plug’? That’s one I remember from pre-childbirth. Post-childbirth, it was ‘My 5 month old is trying to stand, is this safe?’ The latter turned out to be scarier!

- Alex Quinn

What’s this weird line down my baby’s belly? The strangest thing I googled was unintentional. I ended up down a virtual rabbit hole and found out about a condition called Harlequin Colour Change, where newborns get a distinctive line down the centre of their body, one side going red, the other goes pale, it’s something to do with blood vessels still developing. I thought it strange, but stranger still when a few days later I noticed my little guy’s skin doing exactly that but mildly. Would I have noticed it had I not stumbled across it? Probably not. Strange to witness though.

- Martha Mernagh

How do I cure a newborn’s hiccups? I can definitely remember my husband googling how to prevent/cure hiccups at about 3am when our little girl was about two weeks old. She had been hiccuping for an hour at this stage. To be told to just give her some boob/bottle, and not to worry too much, it was more distressing for us than her! She still gets them and it still bothers me more than her!

- Niamh Roche

Cough or asthma? My Google search history reads like the what’s what of coughs. “Up all night coughing, fine by day, can I justify a doctor’s visit just because no one can get any sleep?” If I look for long enough, I usually find a mention of asthma and head off to ease my mind/waste the poor doctor’s time.

- Aisling Drake

What does a normal newborn head look like? With our second son, I got it into my head that his fontanelle was sunken, or pulsing “too much”, so I spent ages googling “normal fontanelle” and “sunken fontanelle”. With our first, I spent a lot of time Googling rashes. Looking at the results, I remember feeling that we were so lucky and blessed that neither of our children were suffering with horrendous rashes, or clearly very ill with sunken fontanelles. It really makes you appreciate how lucky you are to have such healthy children and have access to healthcare.

- Olly Keegan

How do I disguise a bum groove in the couch? My baby cluster fed on and off for the first couple of months, so I spent a lot of time (day and night) feeding while sitting in same spot on the sofa. After checking my Google history and reading through all the standard searches of ‘is this/that normal’, or ‘why do my baby and I always cry at the same time’, the weirdest is probably ‘how to disguise an ass groove in a couch’. Looking back, it was such a lovely time feeding and cuddling, but at the time I was so worried I’d never leave that spot again!

- Mairead McHugh 

Is my unborn baby hiccuping too much? For me, the Googling started when I was pregnant with questions like that. But when my son arrived it continued: ‘What should a newborn’s poo should look like?’ ‘How big should a newborn’s soft spot be?’ ‘How often should a newborn pee?’. I do remember when he was a couple of weeks old looking up ‘How often should you change a newborn’s clothes?’ because he had gone a couple of hours in the same (still clean!) sleep suit. It was so silly looking back now!

- Paula Lynch

Is it normal if a baby acts like he is skydiving? I remember Googling this one on the maternity ward around 3am. In the early days my son used to have these jerky movements where one minute he’d be lying still and the next all arms and legs would shoot out straight just like a skydiver mid-jump! I eventually found out that it’s a natural reflex action like when we as adults have that falling feeling when we go to go sleep. Of course Google also threw up results of it being an early sign of epilepsy or of a major neurological problem! He’s a very happy and healthy 15-month-old now.

- Brianan Nolan

More: 8 readers share the parenting hacks they’ve learned from their own mums and dads

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