Babies are easy to love. As the little bundle of joy grows up and begins to explore the world around them, you may feel lucky that they came into their lives and constantly marvel at how beautiful you are.
During your newborn's first few months, however, you may panic more than a few times. Surely it can't be normal how often your baby holds their breath, right? Why are they so hairy all over, and why is their skin peeling like crazy? You may worry every abnormality is a red flag and that your infant can't be normal.
Being a watchful parent is admirable, but don't send your baby to the emergency room with every false alarm. This article contains a few newborn oddities that may make your heart beat a little bit faster, but don't worry: for the most part, these are all totally harmless.
15 The Newborn Is Secretly An (Evil?) Mastermind
You know that moment when your baby's breastfeeding and all of the sudden they just zone out and concentrate with the strangest, most thoughtful expression? Or when your baby seemingly notices their hands for the first time and studies them for hours? What in the world is going through their head? As it turns out, a lot.
Beginning at conception, your baby's brain (along with the rest of their body) will grow at an exponentially fast rate. Your newborn's cerebellum will triple in size during their first year, and their hippocampus (the part of the brain that helps make memories) grows significantly from month three onward.
By the time that your baby's a year old, they can differentiate one language from another, discriminate between various facial expressions, and their minds are well-prepared to start learning to talk. Once they're five years old, their brain will have already grown to 60% of its adult size. So ask yourself: is your baby cute and innocent or a conniving genius?
14 Some Newborns Are Born Covered In Hair
If your baby's born pre-mature or a little underweight, they may resemble werewolves. The soft, fine hair covering some newborn's bodies is called lanugo. Generally, it covers the face, back, shoulders, and ears. Depending on the infant, sometimes lanugo can fall off after the first couple of weeks or your baby may be a tad hairy for a few months.
What's behind languo? No, your baby's not hairy because the full moon is out. Languo keeps your baby warm when they have little body fat. As your baby grows (and they will grow a lot through their first year), the languo should fall off in time.
13 Newborns Cry Without Tears
Crocodile tears or underdeveloped tear ducts? In this case, blame the latter. Baby tear ducts are still forming after birth. For the first few weeks to two months, they may not shed tears when they cry. Don't worry, you're baby's not trying to pull a fast one on you. They really are upset, they just can't tear up yet.
If your baby's more than a few months old and they still haven't started the waterworks, consider consulting a doctor. Some newborns' tear ducts are clogged, meaning that they can shed tears but they won't drain. These clogged ducts can result in a yellowish discharge, which a doctor can treat through eye drops and cleaning out any buildup.
On a more serious note, crying without tears can be a sign of dehydration in older infants. When coupled with vomiting or diarrhea, make sure your baby's drinking a lot of fluids and call a doctor if they have a dry mouth or fever.
12 For the First Few Days, The Baby Pretty Much Poops Tar
When it comes to newborn poop, there is no positive side. Your baby may poop as often as after every meal (which, for infants, is every 2-3 hours) and for the first few days, your baby's feces will resemble greenish-black, sticky tar.
Newborn stools are called meconium and, for the first day or so, they are made of mucus, amniotic fluid, skin cells, and other waste. Lucky for you, meconium doesn't stink nearly as bad as it looks. You may not even notice your baby has made a bowel movement until you check their diaper.
Once your baby is around 3-4 days old, their poop will become a lighter green as they digest breast milk or formula. This is a good sign, as it means your baby's intestines are functioning well. As your newborn grows older, their poop may range in any color from mustard yellow to a more brownish, pasty color. It never, however, gets any less revolting.
11 Newborn Skin Peels Like Crazy
Let's add snake shedding its skin to the "list of scary things your newborn may resemble during the first few months." Within a few days after leaving the hospital, your baby's skin may peel a little on the face, hands, or soles of the feet.
Newborn babies are born covered in fluids such as amniotic fluid, blood, and vernix. Vernix protects the baby's skin from irritants. After your baby is all cleaned up and ready to leave the hospital, they no longer have that skin protection.
This causes your baby's skin to flake or even peel depending on how overdue or premature your baby was. Premature babies peel less because they were born with more vernix on their skin than babies born at 40 weeks or more. No matter when your baby was delivered, don't worry if their skin looks a little scaly at first. Within a few weeks, this should clear up.
10 Baby Boobs
Maybe you're baby's a little chubby, or maybe they have a bad case of baby boobs. Babies in the womb absorb their mother's hormones along with nutrients they need to live. After they're born, regardless of whether your baby's a girl or a boy, they will still have some estrogen in their systems.
This estrogen may cause some newborns' chests to become a little swollen for the first couple of months. Additionally, some babies may lactate depending on the estrogen left in their body. Luckily, this diminishes with time, and your baby's chest should return to normal with time. Unless, of course, they are actually just chubby.
9 Did You Give Birth To A Newborn Or An Alien?
With that cone head, it's hard to tell. Let's be honest: newborn babies are not always the cute little bundles of joy that you want them to be. Sometimes, they are just plain weird looking. Don't worry if this makes it hard for you to bond with your baby at first: when you were imagining your baby, you may have thought they'd look more like you and your partner than E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
They'll look like you, in time. After a while, they'll start looking less blotchy and gain a more normal, even complexion. Their cone head will diminish and, unless they really are from out of this world, start looking more head-shaped. Until then, just love it as all ugly babies are loved: in the way only a mother can.
8 They Keep Trying to Scratch Their Faces Off
If your baby incessantly scratches their face, they're normal and they're not doing it on purpose. Newborns have very limited motor skills, and they don't have as much control over their hands as they will in a few months. As long as your baby's not clawing at their face, the scratches should heal quickly and without infection.
When your baby's scratching their face, however, you may need to worry as this can cause serious damage. Babies can scratch their corneas if their blink reflex doesn't function in time. While unlikely to leave permanent harm to your child's eyes, you still may need to take them to a doctor if the wound becomes infected and it may temporarily hurt their sight.
To prevent any scratches, parents may take two options. Some prefer to put mittens on their baby's hands. This is especially beneficial when your baby is sleeping so they don't hurt their face in their sleep. Others clip their child's nails so they can still use their hands to explore.
7 Newborn Breathing Can Be Abnormal When Asleep
Nothing is scarier than when your baby's breath hitches or suddenly slows. In most cases, you don't have to hold your own breath if this happens. Babies often experience short pauses in their breathing while asleep, sometimes as long as 5-10 seconds.
Doctors recommend to take note if your newborn holds their breath for more than 10-15 seconds. These pauses may be a sign of sleep apnea or something more serious. Call your physician right away if your baby coughs or gasps for air after a long pause, or their face has a bluish tint.
6 Those Weird, White Bumps All Over Their Faces
Oh, great: what do you do when your newborn's has more acne than you did as a teenager? These tiny dots covering her nose and cheeks are called milia, and they're both harmless and common. Usually, milia pops up on your baby's face a few days after birth. Within a few weeks, they should disappear on their own within two to three weeks.
Milia is caused by dead skin trapped in your baby's pores. Similar to acne, once the surface is rubbed off, the milia will disappear without any creams or ointments needed. Let the milia disappear on its own: rubbing or washing your baby's face can irritate their skin.
5 They Make Bizarre Facial Expressions
Babies can make strange facial expressions at times. One moment, they may look calm and placid, the next their eyes may bulge out as they giggle uncontrollably. Then, without warning, they may go silent and solemn as if they had never smiled in their life.
These strange faces may be from a variety of causes, and only one of those is emotional. Like the rest of their body, their nervous system is immature and may cause spasms or facial twitches. Their facial muscles are weak and easily tweaked by body stimulation. Or, as any mother knows, they may just have a little gas.
Perhaps the most worrisome face you newborn can make is when they go cross-eyed. Luckily, it won't stick that way. Babies are just getting the hang of how to use their eyes, and for the first four months, their eyes may cross a little. If their eyes are crossed most of the time and it continues beyond four months, ask your doctor if there may be an underlying concern.
4 They Sleep With Their Eyes Open
Weird? Yes. Okay? Also, yes. Your baby may sleep with their eyes open due what doctors call "nocturnal lagophthalmos." Just as nobody knows why humans need sleep, researchers are unsure why exactly babies may sleep with their eyes open. What we mainly can confirm is that they do and that it's not abnormal so much as it is creepy.
Some think it may have to do with sleep cycles. Babies mainly sleep with open eyes during REM sleep, which is more active and usually when dreaming begins. About fifty percent of a baby's sleep is in REM, which means that they may spend a lot of time with their eyes open but not alert.
Some also speculate that sleeping with your eyes open may be hereditary. When you're getting ready for bed, see if your partner also sleeps with their eyes wide open. If it's not them, it may be you.
3 Newborn Feet Can Be Purple
If your baby's looking a little blue around the feet, this is no cause for alarm. Sometimes baby feet turn discolored due to the cold. Make sure to cover their piggies up during the fall and winter. Once they're warmed up, they should regain color.
Occasional blue or purplish feet is not a red flag. Persistently purple or blue skin, however, may be a sign of breathing difficulties. If your baby gasps for air often or appears to have trouble breathing, their heart or lungs may not be operating well. In this case, seek medical attention immediately.
2 Their Soft Spot Pulses
Is your baby's soft spot... pulsating? In some cases, it might. Sometimes, your baby's soft spot may appear to pulse. This is quite normal and reflects your baby's heartbeat. A pulsing soft spot means that your baby is getting enough blood flow and that their heart is working fine.
Another concern new mothers may have about their baby's soft spot is if it appears sunken. Most of the time, this is seen in healthy babies and is nothing to worry about. In some cases, though, this may reflect dehydration. Look out for other signs of dehydration and consult your doctor if the symptoms persist.
1 Newborns Are Basically Tiny, Resource-Sucking Vampires
Think about it. Your baby sucks so much out of you. Newborns steal your time and affection almost completely so that you may not even have enough time to sleep. They have taken nutrients and other resources from you since their moment of conception, and they will continue to do for quite a long time (in some cases, through their teenage years). In fact, judging by their erratic sleep pattern, they may even be nocturnal.
Yet we love them anyways. Although newborns can be a little terrifying, from how weird they look to how nervous they make us, they're worthwhile all the same. Once they begin to smile and their head becomes a little more normally shaped, you remember why you love them in the first place. Your baby is still your own, and you'll love them scary or sweet.