Every parent dreams of holding a perfect, beautiful newborn in their arms after giving birth, just like in the movies. However, most parents don’t realize that the babies that are used to play newborns in television and movies, are often a couple months old! Babies come in all different shapes and sizes, with many different variations in appearance.
Many parents are alarmed by their baby’s coloring. They may seem to be dark red, blue, purple, or even yellow immediately following birth. These colors may change as the baby is given time, or better oxygenation. In the case of a yellow-colored baby, the baby may have jaundice and require treatment before reaching a normal color.
A great deal of babies who are born vaginally experience moulding, or shaping of the head. Many parents say their baby was born with a “cone head.” This is due to the moveable bones in the baby’s head shifting as the baby made its way through the birth canal.
Vernix is a white, waxy substance that may feel similar to a soft cheese. Vernix is the substance that protects the baby’s skin while in utero. Some babies are born with quite a bit of vernix covering their bodies while others barely have any. This substance is not dangerous and is usually absorbed into the skin. It does not need to be removed.
Lanugo is a soft downy hair that covers the baby’s body. This hair helps insulate the baby’s body and protect them from losing heat. This hair is more commonly seen in babies who are born prematurely and is less common in babies born at later gestations.
Milia is often found on the baby’s nose, chin and forehead. Milia resembles white pimples, and are caused by the baby’s oil glands. Milia, if left alone, usually resolves itself and disappears.
Stork bites are small red patches found on the baby’s body. According to old stories, these places are where the stork picked the baby up, but are really a large concentration of immature blood vessels. These patches may be more visible when the baby is upset and crying.
Over 80% of dark skinned babies will have what are known as Mongolian spots. These spots are usually black and purple, and are a result of pigmentation. These spots typically disappear within the first year of life.
Although the name sounds serious, erythema toxicum is a harmless rash that usually occurs within the first few days of birth. It closely resembles flea bites and may spread up the back and chest. It does not need treatment and will resolve itself within a few days.
Many babies experience what is known as “baby acne.” This acne is usually found on the baby’s face and is the result of hormones from the mother’s body. These zits should be left alone and should not be popped in order to prevent infection.
Swelling of the Breasts
Many newborns breasts may appear swollen and may even produce a clear or white liquid known as “witch’s milk”. This is due to hormones from the mother and usually goes away within a few weeks. The baby’s nipples and breasts should be left alone and not squeezed.
Swelling of the Genitals
Due to the hormones present in the baby from it’s mother at birth, many newborns have swollen genitals. The genitals will decrease in size as time goes by and take on a more normal looking appearance.
“Newborn Appearance.” Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford LPCH: Northern California Children’s Hospital. Web. 03 Oct. 2010.
“Looking at Your Newborn: What’s Normal.” KidsHealth – the Web’s Most Visited Site about Children’s Health. Web. 03 Oct. 2010.
“Discovery Health “Appearance of a Newborn”” Discovery Health “Health Guides” Web. 03 Oct. 2010.