Some are cute, some pretty amazing, while others… a little surprising (or even disturbing?) to many first-time parents. It is amazing how the new little human you’ve just given birth to (or is about to come to Earth-side), can be so different from us big humans. So here’s a list of 14 things that you may think are a little unusual, but are actually totally normal for newborn babies!
Five large pieces of bones are glued together by a fibrous material called sutures. This allows the skull to move just enough, so that they can be passed through your vaginal canal at birth. You may notice that your baby’s head is in a funny shape if instruments were used during the delivery process. They will usually return to a normal shape a few months after.
You may also notice that your new baby has two soft patches— one on the top of their head, and another towards the back of their head. These are called fontanelles. These are covered by tough membranes that protect the still developing brain of your baby. The posterior (back) fontanelle usually closes in the first few months of their life whereas the front fontanelle remains soft until about 18 months up until the baby’s second birthday.
In their first month, newborns can only see as far as 30cm— that is, the nipples and maybe your face, if you lean close enough. Their world at this time, is in greyscale. The first real colour they will see is red, and by about 5 months old, they would be able to see all colours.
This is not just reserved for the mums (yes, unfortunately it’s a hormonal thing for the mums, so realistically, no product is going to help your shedding, but they may make your hair look fuller), but also your baby too. Every single hair that you baby was born with, will shed completely in the following months to come.
Having always imagined ‘baby skin’ to be smooth and flawless, it may come a shock that not only are many newborns born with red wrinkly skin, they sometimes also have a lot of skin ‘problems’. Baby acne comes in the form of red or white bumps, and usually go away on its own without treatment.
Body hair? Fur?
It may come as a shock if your newborn baby has a full fuzz across their shoulders, arms, back, and sometimes even feet. This is known as lanugo— the first hairs that have been made by their body to protect and keep the baby warm inside the womb. These hairs will usually shed within the first month of the life.
Your newborn’s neck is too weak to support their head at this moment. However, usually by the 2nd month, they would have enough strength to pop their head up from time to time. Make sure to give them plenty of tummy time to help further strengthen their neck muscles!
The umbilical cord will dry out, and it can take anywhere between 3 days to sometimes three weeks before the stump falls off. While it’s completely safe to bath the baby, it may be easier to do sponge baths.
Once the stump dries up, as tempting as it may be, resist from pulling it off. Let it fall on its own. Once it’s fallen off, keeping it exposed to air to help it dry out. It is normal to have a little bleeding where the stump has fallen. However do contact your doctor if there are pus oozing out.
The normal temperature for a newborn can be slightly higher than adults at around 37 degrees celsius. This is because of increased metabolism (it’s brand new!), and the sweat glands have not developed completely.
There may be some blueish-grey marks on the bum or lower back area (which may look like they have been bruised). It is completely harmless. They are called Mongolian Spots, and most would have disappeared by the baby has their first birthday.
A couple of weeks after their new life, you may notice some patches of scaly skin on their head, eyebrows, or sometimes the armpits, groin and ears.
This is called Cradle Cap, they do not itch and it does not bother your baby. Many times, these will go away on its own with time. But if it really bothers you, rubbing some baby oil (or olive oil), leave it in for a few hours before gently brushing it off with a baby hair brush with baby shampoo.
Arms & Legs
Most of their arms will naturally fall in a W shape, whereas their legs in an M shape. Many newborns would also find comfort in sleeping in this position whereas others prefer a tight swaddle.
Fingers & Hands
All babies are born with a natural grasping reflex. That is, when you put a finger in the hand of a newborn, they will hold your finger so tight, that it may actually hurt! This mostly lasts until they are about 5-6 months old.
Girls and her 'period'
Some baby girls may have a small amount of blood or discharge from her vagina a few days following their birth. This is completely normal as she would have been exposed to some of your hormones inside the womb. This goes the same for sometimes slightly enlarged breasts for girls, and boys!
Boys getting 'hard'
It’s not just a big boy things. Tiny baby boys gets it too, although they don’t actually ejaculate anything until at least a decade later, when they hit puberty. The reason for the baby erection is unknown, but many times it could be because their bladder is full (so make the nappy change quick!), or just that the air is hitting it.
DID YOU KNOW?
Up to 75% babies prefer turning their heads to the right side when lying on their back. It may be related to a gene, similar to how most people are right-handed, while much less are left-handed. This bias can last for a few months after birth.