Here’s the truth: once you deliver them and get your first look at your bundle of joy, you will realize your newborn isn't the Gerber-like cuteness you were expecting. His skin is wrinkly, he looks grumpy, and he doesn't have (yet!) those plump cheeks. As pediatrician Dr. Gwenn O'Keeffe puts it matter-of-factly, “They basically look like aliens.”
Okay, we don't know if we would go that far to describe a newborn, but we get her point. Newborns have physical features that can surprise and baffle new parents.
A newborn may have an oddly-shaped head.
A baby tends to have an oblong-shaped head, and this is okay. “During childbirth, pressure from the tight birth canal might cause your baby's skull bones to shift and overlap. This can result in an elongated or cone-shaped skull at birth — particularly if you had a long labor or a vacuum was used during delivery,” according to Mayo Clinic. Your baby’s head will become more rounded (or shaped “normally) in a few days.
Worried? As part of the well-baby routine checkup, your child’s pediatrician will examine his head at every clinic visit and will tell you if anything’s amiss. There are conditions that result in an abnormally shaped head as well, like craniosynostosis where a child's skull bones fuse together prematurely; this requires medical attention to treat. If you have any concerns regarding your baby, don’t hesitate to check with a doctor.
Your baby is only few days old, but he already has dry, peeling skin and “pimples”
Baby skin is typically shown in commercials as soft, smooth, and silky. But, it is not always the case that your newborn’s skin is, well, perfect.
There is no need to overly worry about the dry and peeling. “Peeling skin is a normal newborn process and requires no treatment,” says HealthyChildren, a site run by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The peeling is caused by the skin’s sudden exposure to the air now that vernix, the substance that protects the baby from amniotic fluid, is not covering your newborn.
Second, expect there to be tiny bumps on his skin. “These harmless spots, known as milia, typically disappear on their own within a few weeks,” says Mayo Clinic. The bumps will not leave scars.
Your newborn is...hairy.
“As you examine your baby’s shoulders and back, you also may notice some fine hair, called 'lanugo.' This hair is produced toward the end of pregnancy; however, it’s usually shed before birth or soon thereafter,” says Mayo Clinic.
You may also find lanugo on your baby’s face, ears, and butt. Premature babies are more likely to be born with it too. These will all shed in a few weeks, explains VeryWell.
Don't panic about those soft spots on your baby’s head.
“You'll notice two soft areas at the top of your baby's head where the skull bones haven't yet grown together,” says Mayo Clinic. Called fontanels, these are so the baby's brain has room to grow. When your newborn cries, you might see the soft spots swell or pulsate.
Don’t worry about accidentally brushing against the soft spots (stop thinking it's his brain!). “Soft spots are covered by a thick fibrous layer. They're safe to touch and typically close within two years when the skull bones fuse together,” explains Mayo Clinic.
Whoa, swollen genitals and breasts on my newborn!
Babies may be born with swollen genitals— both boys and girls. “Your baby is born with extra fluid in her body. This collects in your baby's genitals, causing swollen labia in girls or a swollen scrotum in boys,” according to BabyCenter. “Your baby girl's vagina may also be swollen from receiving your hormones while in the uterus.” The swelling should go down after a few days when your baby starts to lose all that excess fluid.
It’s the same case with newborn boobs. The same hormones that stimulate and make mom’s breasts swell also do the same on the baby while in the womb.
We know we can't stop you from Googling these physical features. Any of these can come up and say it's a symptom of a medical condition. Ease your mind by making you regularly bring your baby to his pediatrician.