If mom is not a redhead herself but is fortunate enough to have a baby with ginger hair, there are some things she needs to know. Being a redhead is both fabulous and frightful in equal measure, and there are things they experience as they grow-up that are unique to their hair color.
As you have the privilege of steering a fiery haired baby on their journey into adulthood, I have taken the liberty of putting together some hints and tips to help you support your budding person bloom into the fabulous, feisty flower they are destined to be.
1. Because of, you know, the internet, I’d like to start off with two disclaimers;I am a redhead. I was the only one in my family and almost the only one at my school. I have loved and loathed my hair in equal measure, and now I am an adult (so I’m told) I enjoy being the odd one out. Also, two of my children are redheads, and I couldn’t be happier about it.
2. There is much debate in some circles about whether or not you should use the word ginger to describe or label a redhead. Personally, I don’t mind this name, so I am using it here.
15The Hospital Staff Will Love You
Your first ride on the rocking redhead train will probably happen if you have your baby in the hospital or a birthing center. Many redheads start out with very little or no hair at all, and in the beginning, that first fluffy drift can be more of a blonde than red.
However, if you are a redhead yourself, the staff will all be checking out your baby's head to see if they have also been blessed with a red halo and if your baby is clearly a redhead, watch out.
Nurses from other wards and other floors will poke their heads around the door to check in on “the baby with the beautiful red hair.” I’d swear, when our youngest daughter was born with her vivid ginger fluff top, there were compliments from the doctors and nurses all day every day.
14People Will Ask You These Questions
First of all, if you are not a redhead, and you take your ginger kiddo out and about everyone thinks it is perfectly acceptable to come up to you, coo over the baby and then ask “Is it your child?” which is really annoying because a brown haired mom with a blonde baby wouldn’t be asked the same question.
The other question is “Where did he/she get the red hair from?” What always amazes me is that I get asked this question too. While standing there with a head full of red hair. I suppose it just goes to show that moms become invisible when they push strollers with newborns.
In fact, when my father-in-law first saw our youngest daughter he took to waxing lyrical that she had inherited her hair from my husband's great aunt. My husband pointed out that perhaps it was from me, you know being her mom and all.
13You Should Buy Shares In A Sunscreen Company
The receptor gene MC1R is responsible for producing the brown skin pigment melanin; redheads have a variant of this gene which does not produce melanin.
As most people know, we gingers are delicately skinned little flowers, and we burn easily. What most people don’t realize is just how fast and just how severely we tend to burn.
When you have a redheaded baby, you need to be extra careful to protect them from the sun. As well as coating them from head to foot in the highest sun protection factor you can find; keep as much skin as possible covered, always make sure they are wearing a hat and stay in the shade as much as you can. If you are out in the sun, try to limit your baby's exposure time as much as possible and remember, it doesn’t have to be super hot for a baby's skin to burn.
I know this doesn’t sound like much fun, but neither is a baby with sunburn.
12We Get The Worst Skin Cancer - More Often
Most people are aware of the connection between sun exposure and skin cancer, but there are some different kinds of skin cancer and redheads are more likely to develop the most dangerous kind - melanoma. Melanoma is the least common but the most deadly form of skin cancer and is responsible for 75% of all skin cancer deaths.
This cancer can develop many years after the initial sun exposure that caused the damage to the cells, so by sticking with the sun exposure advice in the section about sunburn you are also protecting your child from the possibility of severe health problems in the future. Also, by having less sun exposure over a lifetime, redheads are less likely to end up looking like wrinkled leather handbags than our dowdy haired friend. So you see, everything has a silver lining.
11Color Me Fantastic
This is a contentious one. There was a time when every redhead was told how glorious they looked in dark green because it really sets off their hair. This lead to several generations of us growing up with closets that looked like an abstract painting of a forest and an almost phobic reaction to anything of the red, yellow, or orange range in clothes.
Then, suddenly it was OK for a redhead to wear a bright orange dress or a tee shirt so pink it would cause your eyes to bleed. Gingers everywhere rose up as one and embraced the full rainbow, and it was truly hideous. It turns out that the reason for the redheads looking good in green stereotype is that redheads look good in green.
So wrap your baby in shades of green and make the most of that fabulous coloring
10Temper Temper Little Ginger
Another redheaded stereotype is that we all have fiery tempers. Actually, we do not, and if anyone says different they are in trouble, and I will hunt them down.
Actually, most of the redheads I know are very placid, even-tempered types until they finally lose their temper and then, watch out. Nobody loses their temper in quite the same way as a redhead. The exploding temper of a redhead should be classed as a special kind of storm and given names like hurricanes and typhoons are.
You will notice this quite quickly as you get to know your little red topped bundle of joy. Redheaded babies tend to be reasonably content until they want something and then, they want it right now. Also, beware of games with your ginger tot. We have trouble facing up to the fact we are not the greatest in the world at everything, and you will probably have to give your ginger little one plenty of lessons in how to share, how to take turns and how to lose gracefully.
9Wrapped In Sensitive Skin
As well as being prone to sunburn of hideous proportions, most redheads have at least relatively sensitive skin. Most of us start out using unscented products for our babies but as they grow older this tends to fall by the wayside, especially because doing multiple loads of washing in different detergents gets old real quick.
With your little ginger, you will probably have to take more care and as your baby grows you will have to keep a close eye on their tender skin. As an adult(ish) woman, this can be frustrating because sometimes it can severely limit what you can buy and trying new things - only to wake up the next morning looking like a swollen lumpy raspberry. It sucks. Do your kid a favor and help them figure out what sets their skin off at an early age when you are buying the products.
8An Insect Buffet
As if having to buy copious quantities of sunscreen and a pharmacy full of chamomile products to calm down the skin isn’t quite enough, bugs love redheads, and we react terribly. I have lost count of the number of times we have been in the garden during the day and discovered when the evening arrives my husband has been briefly nibbled at by a bug and our youngest daughter and I are covered from head to toe in quickly swelling bites that itch like hell.
The thing about this is that with little ones, a small bite can get scratched and infected very quickly, becoming cellulitis or worse. So in the same way you keep them protected from the sun, make sure you keep insects at bay too and wipe up any sticky spots quickly because that's a sure-fire bug alert.
7A Real Bruiser
A regular conversation in a household with a redhead will go something like this:
“Where did you get that bruise from?”
“What do you mean what bruise? That huge one one the back of your arm.”
“Oh, I hadn’t noticed. I dunno. I must have banged it somewhere.”
“How could you hit your arm hard enough to do that and not notice?”
“I’m a redhead. A butterfly could have farted in the direction of my arm, and the force of the air would be enough to make me bruise.”
To start with you will worry all of the time when your little one seems to be covered in black, blue, yellow and green marks all the time. Then other people looking will bother you. Then you will learn to say things like “She got those bruises playing; I only beat her where it doesn’t show” and smile sweetly.
6Redheads Feel Pain Differently
Us redheads have been scientifically proven to feel pain differently to the way other mere mortals do. This is especially true when the pain is due to the cold or heat.
Experiments have taken place using capsaicin, the active substance in chili, injecting it under the skin.
Professor Lars Arendt-Nielsen of the Center for Sensory-Motor Interaction at Aalborg University, who conducted the experiments said:"Our tests showed that redheads are less sensitive to this particular type of pain. They react less to pressure close to the injected area, or to a pinprick. They seem to be a bit better protected, and that is a really interesting finding."
The takeaway for you? Your redheaded baby is less likely to be upset by immunizations because we’re tougher around needles.
Your little one is also more liable to touch hotter items than other kids so be extra careful around hot plates, cups, and other items.
5Redheads Need More Anesthetic
Although the story that surgeons are reluctant to carry out surgery on redheads because they bleed more is said to be untrue, it has been proven that we do need more anesthetic than other people.
This is because red hair is caused by a mutation in a gene labeled MCR1 and this gene is part of a group that affects pain and sensation. As a consequence, local anesthetics, like novocaine can be less efficient, and redheads need approximately 20% more general anesthetic than the rest of the population.
This is most important if you have a child that needs dental work or a local anesthetic for stitches or another medical procedure. If your child is wriggling and saying they are not numb but the doctor insists they must be, listen to your child and request extra anesthetic and more frequent top ups.
4More Sensitive To Changes In Temperature
Just to mix things up a bit, in addition to feeling less pain caused by hot and cold, us flame-haired types are more susceptible to variations in the ambient temperature. As the air starts to cool, your ginger baby will feel the cold way before you do. Likewise, as the temperature heats up, your little one will probably feel discomfort before you even notice the mercury crawling up the thermometer.
This extra sensitivity isn’t going to be a huge issue when taking care of your little one. Most of us spend the majority of the first year worrying if we have overdressed or underdressed our babies. However, it is a good thing to be aware of because if your tiny ginger dumpling is fussing and you have tried everything else, check the temperature. If it isn’t on the way up or down, then double check your little one is at a comfortable temperature.
3Shopping Takes Forever With A Redheaded Child
Do you remember what it was like on those first few trips out with your newborn? Everyone is stopping to take a peak. Complete strangers asking if they can have a look and asking you all about your little one?
That is what it is like on nearly every trip outside when you have a child with red hair. Two of our daughters are redheads and even now, going out with the youngest, who is nine, people stop to tell us what beautiful hair she has. The conversation usually goes like this:
“Oh, what beautiful hair you have.”
“I bet you get told that all of the time don’t you?”
“Yes, but I don’t mind.”
“Plenty of grown-ups would love to have that hair color.”
“Yes, everyone tells me that”
Then our daughter tactfully extracts herself and leaves mom or dad talking about her hair with a complete stranger.
2Bullying Can Become A Way Of Life At School
As soon as you set foot on the playground, as a redhead, you stand out as different and become the focus for what some people would call teasing and those of us on the receiving end would call incessant bullying.
Not only does your red hair suddenly become the focus of everyone's torment but your pale skin and your freckles single you out too. Depending on where you live in the world, expect your child to hear:
- "Can I play dot-to-dot on your face?"
- "Did you sunbath under a tea strainer?"
- Carrot top, Firetop, Bloodnut, Matchstick, Copperknob, Duracell, Daywalker, Ginga, Gine, Freckle Face, Gingernut, Gingervitis, Rusty, Ging-er, Orangutang, Tang-ar, and more
Nobody should have to “just put up with it” or “stop being silly” if their feelings are hurt by name calling, and that goes for the “light hearted teasing” most redheads have to put up with at school.
1You Discover Some People Have No Filter
It is important to raise your redhead to be proud of their rare locks and not to be ashamed of how they look. The teenage years can be awful, especially as the taunts turn from basic ones into many of a more, er, personal nature. This carries on into the adult years where for some reason people think it is ok to make obnoxious comments or ask personal questions based on your hair color. It takes a strong, confident person to let them all roll like water off a duck's back so make sure your child goes out into the world as the confident warrior they deserve to be.
Some common ones are:
- "I've never slept with a redhead before."
- "Can you go out in the sun?"
- "You must be crazy in bed."
- "Does the carpet match the drapes?"
- "Is that your natural hair color?"
- "You must be a Weasley."
Sources: <span style="font-weight: 400;"> ScienceNordic.com, The British Medical Journal, Harvard Medical School, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov</span>
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