A Compendium of the Strangest Newborn-Baby Content on TikTok

Anonymous young woman taking care of her baby while working at home with smartphone
Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photo: KARRASTOCK/Getty Images

At the end of October, I gave birth to my first baby. This event wholly changed my life and also, perhaps even more radically, my social-media feeds. Before, I would thumb through Instagram and TikTok to see videos of celebrities walking into coffee shops and sped-up footage of influencers cleaning their white, carpeted apartments on Sundays. Now all I see is: insane baby content.

I guess because I have been passively asking my algorithms to provide it. It started the first time I looked at my phone after giving birth in the hospital and, after desperately searching “newborn pacifier bad?”, my For You Page was one video after another of moms who had also just given birth in the hospital doing their skincare routines in the bathroom. What? I did not relate to this at all, and yet I kept watching. My feeds have since been filled exclusively with content from newborn mom influencers. I want to quit watching them, but when all you are doing is “baby” 24/7, it is very tempting to see how others in your situation are also doing “baby,” even if they seem unnaturally preoccupied with face serums.

Now that my daughter is almost out of the newborn stage, I am planning to delete my accounts and start afresh. It’s the only way to get out of this content mine I have wandered into unawares. But before I do, I thought I should document how I have been melting my brain during middle of the night feeds for the last four months. (Help!) Below, a taxonomy of BabyTok.

The all-nighters

One of the most inescapable trends on newborn TikTok is the all-nighter: a timestamped, compilation video of parents (usually moms) caring for their babies from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. As you might guess, these babies are not doing much sleeping. Maybe because they are colicky, or maybe because their parents have a ring light trained on their bassinets all night — who can say?


Unpopular opinion: the 4 month sleep regression is harder than the newborn stage #moms #parents #baby #babies #postpartum

♬ original sound - Krystiana

One mommy influencer with 5.4 million followers on TikTok, @krystianatiana, has posted dozens of these kinds of videos. I’ve watched her wordlessly pat her screaming son to sleep over and over again, her heavy eyelash extensions drooping as she rocks him in a cream-colored boucle glider chair. She is so patient it scares me a little — if my baby was that colicky I’d be calling my mom and then maybe 911. And she is not the only mom doing this. An influencer named Rini Frey, who has over 400,000 followers on Instagram and posts under the handle @ownitbabe, has been religiously documenting her baby’s “four-month sleep regression” in several videos on the platform. What will these children think when they are old enough to understand that their moms posted their every cry in service of promoting their Amazon storefronts?

I guess the moms must be sleeping at some point, because the videos are very well edited.

The sleep experts selling something

What does it mean to be a pediatric sleep expert? Is there a degree for that? I have no idea, but I have watched somewhere in the neighborhood of 8 million videos from pediatric sleep experts all claiming to know exactly what schedule will prompt my baby to sleep 12 hours through the night instead of what she is doing now, which is … not that. All of them have “programs” and “plans” linked in their bios that, naturally, cost money.

I almost bought a package from @takingcarababies (2.6 million Instagram followers) in a fit of pique on Black Friday, and then I found out three years too late that she is a Trump supporter. Ah well. My husband and I did try her “hack” of running water over the top of your fussy baby’s head and it kind of worked once.

The “everything sucks” moms

Meet the regular “relatable” moms who post about how they don’t put their babies on a schedule. They contact nap; they supplement with formula; they keep their little ones in footie pajamas all day because it’s just easier, dammit. They talk about how hard everything is constantly. I like them (because they don’t make me feel bad about not having my baby in a perfect routine), but they also depress me (because they don’t seem to be having any fun whatsoever). Here’s @wilderbeginnings, a doula with 108,000 followers on Instagram, talking about how she has not sleep trained her four-month-old even though she isn’t sleeping very well and she’s tired but that’s okay actually, mama.

And here’s @karrie_locher, a pediatric nurse and mom of five with 752,000 followers on Instagram, posting a similar “realistic” update about her three-month-old: “We nurse to sleep (and love to do it),” she writes. “We don’t have a ‘schedule,’ bassinet naps are a crapshoot … she doesn’t go down ‘drowsy but awake.’” (All of these things are somewhat controversial in the newborn mom world, which dictates that babies fall asleep on their own in their cribs at regular intervals.)

I think these kinds of videos are supposed to make me feel seen and heard but mostly they stress me out.

The dads

Most newborn-baby content is created by moms. As such, a few dads making the same kind of content have managed to go viral simply by virtue of the fact that they are not moms. This guy is in my feed constantly talking about little hacks he’s developed to care for his daughter, who is incidentally very cute:

I bet being a dad is a lot of fun.

The enormous-kitchen-island people

Perhaps this is the algorithm’s way of telling me to leave New York City: I get so many videos of moms going about their days around the biggest kitchen islands I have ever seen in my life. Whether they are making bottles in the Baby Brezza, cutting up bananas and arranging them on a silicone baby plate, or making their own iced lattes with three different kinds of flavored syrup, they are doing it around a slab of granite the size of my living room.

I find these videos to be the most grounding of the bunch and I will miss them when I drop my phone down a sewer grate tomorrow.

A Compendium of the Strangest Newborn-Baby Content on TikTok