It's funny the things babies are born knowing and what they have to learn. It's not what you'd expect. Number one and two on the list are, conveniently, #1 and #2 -- peeing and pooping. (Some of them even get a head start on these.) The ultrasound showed that Walt had a head start on sucking his thumb, although he's had some trouble adapting his technique ex utero.
There are the things that seem obvious: Nursing. Well, really, sucking & swallowing; nursing is a bit of a refinement of those concepts that can take some time and practice, as Annie and Walt will attest. Breathing and crying -- even these seemed to need a jump start in the delivery room. Walt has since taken to them like a fish to his/her bicycle.
Then, the surprises. Walt's? Precocious neck control. Delightful, unabashed smiles. A magician's understanding of misdirection.
You see, when Walt starts fussing, my go-to response (after the lullabye) is a diaper check. Invariably wet. Inevitably frustrated by his time on the changing table. So, we continue down the list... singing gives way to rocking, rocking gives way to walking, walking to bouncing, bouncing to swaddling, and just when I think I've exhausted my repertoire, I think, "Couldn't be the diaper, right?" But I check anyway... e voilà! Delightful smile, enthusiastic applause.
As for swaddling, early on we had some real success with Happiest Baby on the Block, particularly that sort of cantilevered, wiggling side-hold. We'd swaddle Walt up, cradle his head, give a long shush and a gentle wiggle, and he'd be a zen master. But the change in his demeanor was spookily abrupt -- stop shushing to catch your breath and he'd pick right back up yowling where he left off. I often wondered if the "calming reflex" was only physical; if somewhere, locked into that little swaddled body, the real Walt was still silently raging against the 1%. At any rate, he seems to have outgrown the position, but we still swaddle to counteract his startle reflex, and he likes a modified side/colic-hold before bed to settle his stomach, so I feel like it's served all of us well.