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Why Do Newborns Make Strange Faces?

by Maria Magher, studioD

Your newborn can seem to be far beyond his zero years at times -- showing a sage and beatific expression in one moment and flashing crazy eyes with a mouth held open in a silent yell the next. Those little bundles of joy can be an adorable enigma. Those strange faces that your newborn makes are actually the result of a variety of factors, including their immature nervous system, their weak facial muscles and plain old gas.

Developing Sense of Sight

When your baby is born, his eyesight is not fully developed. Newborns can only see about 8 to 12 inches right in front of them, says HealthyChildren.org, a site from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Their weak eye muscles result in both their poor vision and some funny faces. Many babies may become cross-eyed because their muscles are not yet strong enough to hold their eyes in one place or to focus on a single object for a long period of time.

Lack of Muscle Control

Newborns don't just have poor eye muscles, they have weak muscles in their faces, as well. Their movements can easily become uncoordinated, resulting in strange and funny faces. You are most likely to see this happen when your baby is feeling sleepy. He will be more likely to stare off, allowing portions of his face to rest while other parts are engaged, such as a slack jaw while his eyes are focused on a point. Transitions between expressions will also be less coordinated, resulting in some funny faces.

Attempt to Mimic You

Babies soak up their environments, and one of the best ways they learn is by watching you. In their attempts to mimic you, they end up making some pretty funny faces. Their eyes may widen when yours do, and they may open their mouths repeatedly as you talk. They may also move their mouths to try to make the same shapes you do to make words. As a result, they may ended up sticking out their tongues, curling up their lip or contorting their faces into some strange expressions.


Babies have weak digestive systems. Even though they eat tiny amounts, they may not always be able to process it easily. Gas is the culprit for a lot of fussy behavior, as well as some funny faces. You might see a grimace, a scowl, or a sneer as your infant contorts his face in response to pain or discomfort. Some infants even get what looks like a smile when they are feeling gassy.

About the Author

Maria Magher has been working as a professional writer since 2001. She has worked as an ESL teacher, a freshman composition teacher and an education reporter, writing for regional newspapers and online publications. She has written about parenting for Pampers and other websites. She has a Master's degree in English and creative writing.

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