Newborns are known to be one of life's most precious gifts. Google 'newborn' and adorable photos of little yawns and sleeping beauties fill the screen. In real life though, when you've got a full-frontal view of a bran new baby, you might be surprised by the weirdness you see. On top of being covered in goo, newborns enter the world with strange traits like shrivelled skin and hairy bodies.
They say all mothers are blinded by love, but when many first-time-mamas meet their bundles of joy, they are left wondering who the strange looking creature is in their arms. When I had my boy, I was a little worried about a couple of traits, but everything was fine and my little weirdo soon grew into the cutest baby in the world (as most babies do).
It turns out many newborn conditions are caused by hormonal effects. When women are pregnant they produce a lot of estrogen (the same hormone which helps their boobs turn into watermelons). In the womb, babies are surrounded by their mother’s hormones which can affect them in strange ways.
If you’re planning to pop out a baby anytime soon, it’s a good idea to get familiar with the following strange, but common realities. Always follow your gut first and if you notice something strange, have a health professional check it out. Most of the time though, you’ll be reassured that everything is a-ok.
Here are 15 Weird Things About Newborns That You Shouldn’t Freak Out About.
15Baby Girl Has Her Period
When you have a daughter, you get to put teaching the joys of menstruating on the back burner for at least 10-15 years. But when you give birth to a little girl, you might be shocked to find her dripping blood out of her girly parts. Luckily, it's not actually her period showing up a decade too soon. A little blood is harmless and is caused by exposure to hormones in the mother’s womb.
One study showed that out of 350 newborn girls, over 25% had vaginal bleeding on a micro level, and bleeding was noticeably visible is 3.3% of baby girls. For baby girls who were visibly having a “period,” the blood appeared in their first week of life, with a peak on day five.
Seeing blood coming out of your newborn's vagina is understandably scary, but in most of cases, your little princess will be blood free after a week… until aunty flo visits her later in life.
14Baby Boy Has An Stiffy
Having a baby boy is an exciting time for everyone in the family, including the baby – and he's aren't afraid to show it. Jokes aside, boys can have erections as early as day one. But guess what? It’s completely normal.
I have a one year old and I have yet to witness his boy parts go hard, but I can imagine freaking out a little when it happens for the first time (and every time after that). For now, he's discovered that there is something between his legs to play with in the bathtub.
There’s no real reason why so many infants and toddlers have erections, but when it happens, it's actually a good sign that their nervous system is working properly. Unless an erection sticks around for a prolonged period, there’s nothing to worry about. At the end of the day, whether your little boy has erections or likes to play with his penis, there really isn’t a cause for concern. In the end, boys will be boys – from the day they are born.
13Baby Has Swollen Boobs
Moms aren’t the only ones who deal with mumbo jumbo boobs. About 70% of newborns are born with some form of enlarged breasts. This happens because of their exposure to the same hormones that cause their mama's boobs to swell up.
Along with swollen breasts, it's also common to find lumps under a newborns’ nipples. Enlarged breasts and little lumps are usually visible right away, but sometimes they grow larger in the days following birth. Within the following couple of days and weeks, everything should shrink down and flatten out - unless you've got a scrumptious michelin baby on your hands, in which case cute baby boobies might stick around until baby fat is lost.
When it comes to babies with boobies, there isn't much to worry about unless you notice any possible signs of infection - for example, redness or pain by touch, combined with a fever. In which case, you should bring your baby to a doc asap.
12Baby's Nipples Are Leaking
If swollen breasts aren’t weird enough, it’s also common for milk to come out of a newborns’ nipples. This happens in approximately 5 to 20% of newborns (girls and boys). Again, this is due to exposure to the same hormones that cause a mother to produce milk. In fact, the milk that discharges from a newborns’ nipples closely resembles a mother's milk.
This is often referred to as witch’s milk - a term created because of an old folktale about goblins and witches feeding on the baby's milk (which is the scariest thing I've ever heard in my life).
My baby was free of any nipple discharge, but since I only recently learned about this, I would of freaking out if I saw liquid emerging from his nipples. So it’s worth noting that this strange condition is actually pretty common.
If you notice your baby’s nipples leaking, it's a good idea to avoid touching the area until the milk production stops on it's own.
11Baby's Hairy All Over
When you're pregnant, it's normal to spend countless hours wondering what your baby will look like. You may wonder if they will be born bald or with a full head of luscious hair. When envisioning your baby, body hair isn't usually something that comes to mind.
As weird as it sounds, many newborns are born covered in body hair. Sometimes it’s barely noticeable. It could resemble a fuzzy peach and only shows up in some parts of the body. My son for example was born with hairy ears. In other cases though, people might be left wondering if the baby is half-human, half-monkey.
The body hair that covers a newborn is called lanugo and the more prematurely they are born, the more likely they are to have it. Whether you’ve got a little monkey on your hands or not, it’s reassuring to note that any body hair should shed within the few couple of weeks following birth.
10Baby's Covered In Vernix
When you first meet your little one, there’s a good chance their skin will be covered in a cheesy-like layer. It might seem a little weird, but it’s called vernix and it’s there to protect them.
Babies are known to have super sensitive skin, so when they’re spending their developing days swimming in the womb, the thick, waxy layer protects their skin. It’s also a natural moisturizer and acts as a lube so the baby could slip out with minimal effort from the mother (obviously the minimal effort part was a joke).
Preemies have a lot more vernix, but late babies often already lost their protective layer in the womb prior to delivery. Regardless of how much vernix is wrapping your baby’s skin, it’s nothing to worry about. You might be tempted to wash it off right away, but it’s best to leave it on for at least a day before baby’s first bath.
9Baby's Got Zits
Like aunty flo, acne isn’t something you think you’ll have to deal with until your little one hits puberty, but acne is actually very common on babies. The most common regions for little pimples to appear are on a baby's cheeks, nose and forehead. You can’t really prevent baby acne, but the good news is, it’s almost always temporary and goes away without any treatment.
Baby acne can come and go, but it most commonly makes an appearance within the first two to four weeks of life and almost always clears up within a couple of months at most.
Chances are baby acne bothers you more than it bothers your baby. Besides looking less glam for photo shoots, the acne isn’t causing any harm to your baby. If your little one is covered in itty bitty zits, keep their face clean with water and gently pat dry, but avoid using lotions or oil unless instructed by a health professional.
8Baby's Genitals Are Swollen
When you think about what your baby will look like, swollen genitals probably doesn’t come to mind. If you're expecting a girl, be prepared to be struck by swollen labia and if you're expecting a boy, watch out for swollen scrotum.
Along with hormone exposure, newborns carry extra fluid in their bodies. Just like it causes puffy eyes, the extra fluid causes their genitals to swell up like a puffer fish. Most of the fluid is just water and within a few days, their bodies will naturally drain it out.
When I held my little boy for the first time I couldn’t help but notice his over sized scrotum on his tiny body. Within a couple of days though, everything got a little more proportional. My friend was also a little shocked when she met her naked baby girl, so if you’re about to pop, heads up on the swollen genitals.
7Baby's Staring While Sleeping
For many reasons (like adorable-ness and being able to finally catch your breath), there’s nothing more precious than watching your baby sleep… unless of course they are sleeping with their eyes open, in which case it’s freaky AF.
Besides the fact that your baby might look like they came straight out of a horror movie, sleeping with their eyes open is completely normal.
The fancy medical term for sleeping with eyes open is called nocturnal lagophthalmos and it’s especially common during the newborn stage.
The good news is, when your baby looks possessed you can gently use your fingers to close their eyelids shut - or just leave them be. My son has never slept with his eyes open, but my dog does all the time and I would be too scared to shut them closed for him.
If your find your baby is always staring you down while they sleep, it’s a good idea to talk to a doctor about it, but generally speaking, it’s harmless.
6Baby's Got Diaper Rash
Everyone’s heard of diaper rash, but when you find your child with a red bum for the first time, your heart might shatter in millions of pieces. Diaper rash is very common and can show up anywhere the diaper touches from bums to thighs and all around the genitals. Besides its bright red color, it’s also uncomfortable for little ones. The good news is, it’s usually easily treatable at home.
The main cause of diaper rash is moisture aka your baby is left wet for too long. I learned this the hard way when I didn’t take my son’s wet swimming diaper off while pool side chilling – poor little bum was tomato red and filled with spots.
To prevent diaper rash, change your baby’s diaper more often, and make sure the diaper region is dry before putting on a new diaper (it’s a good idea to pat dry with a dry washcloth after using wipes). When it’s red, use a diaper rash cream and it should go away within a couple of days.
5Baby's Got Cradle Cap
If your baby’s head is filled with not-so-cute flaky scales, it’s probably cradle cap… and it’s pretty common in infants. Cradle cap isn’t something parents want to see on their baby’s head, but unlike eczema, it isn’t usually itchy. So even though it might look bad, it shouldn't be causing your little one discomfort. It’s also not contagious, so you don’t need to worry about it spreading to the whole fam.
The fancy medical term for cradle cap is infantile seborrheic dermatitis… but let’s just stick with words we can pronounce. No one really knows why babies get cradle cap, but like most things on this list, one cause might be the exposure to the mother’s hormones before the baby is born. The hormones can cause an excess production of oils leading to this weird, yet common condition.
Even though cradle cap is usually harmless, it’s a good idea to visit a doc if the dry patches show up anywhere else on your baby’s body.
4Baby’s Making Jerky Movements
The world is a scary place for newborns. They’re used to sleeping all day in a dark and cozy womb, so when they’re born, it’s normal for them to get startled easily with bright lights and enhanced sounds. A newborn’s startle reflex can be alarming for a new parent to witness, but sudden jitters and jerky movements are totally normal. You'll usually catch newborns making these sudden movements when they hear loud noises or wake up suddenly. It can also happen randomly.
In his early days, my son was the king of jerky movements. Sleeping or not, every time he heard a new sound, he’d suddenly raise his arms and do a little shake. Once the nurse reassured me that it was normal, I thought it was the cutest thing ever.
With every week that goes by, the random jerky movements will decrease. If you are concerned that your baby is having seizure-like symptoms, immediately seek help, but regular jerky movements are a natural part of development.
3Baby's A Pooping Machine
We know that everyone poops, but when it comes to frequency, everyone is different. Some people poop twice a day and some people only hit the bowl three times a week. The same is true for babies, but one thing that might be surprising is how often newborns poop.
Everyone knows that all newborns do is sleep, eat and poop, but in the first few weeks of life, it may seem like pooping takes the lead. Newborns can poop before, during or after every feed (and any time in between). That’s why the newborn stage is also the period when you’ll be changing the most diapers. A word of advice – when your newborn poops, wait a little longer before rushing to the changing table, because often round two is just around the corner.
As baby’s grow, their bowels will get into a routine and their pooping patterns will likely become less frequent and more predictable. If you’re expecting a baby soon, get ready for a poppy ride.
2Baby's Screaming Bloody Murder
When you’re a new mom, there are a million things to worry about. One thing you don’t need to stress about is sleeping through your baby’s cries. Never underestimate the sounds that come out of a newborn baby.
Everyone knows that newborns cry, but when you’re living the newborn stage, it can be extremely frustrating when your dear child won’t shut up. Even once you’ve fed, changed and attended to their every needs, newborns often scream bloody murder until you’re ready to pull your hair out.
It’s important to remind yourself that the crying stage is normal – it’s their only way to communicate. Put your baby down until you are calm enough to catch a breath and then hold them (preferably skin-to-skin) and gently rock them until they calm down. With time, you’ll get to know your baby’s cries and you’ll learn what works best, but it’s good idea to jump into motherhood knowing that your baby will scream at the top of their lungs... and it's normal.
1Baby's Missing Tears
We know that newborns cry a lot, but if you find yourself wondering where your baby’s tears are, you can be comforted in knowing that newborns don’t shed tears at first.
Newborns only produce enough tears to keep their eyes moist for protection, but not enough to start the water works. You should expect to see your baby’s first real tears around one to three months after birth – and when you do, you’ll get probably get mixed emotions (happy to see their first tear mixed with sad to see them cry with tears).
Most babies will continue to cry without tears sometimes, but when they are really upset, you’ll see tears rolling down their face. If your baby seems to always have watery eyes and has tears even when they aren’t crying, they might have a blocked tear duct. Check it out with a doc, but if that’s the case it usually clears up on its own.
Whether it’s swollen genitals, a hairy body or tearless cries, there are so many weird things about newborns that are actually completely normal. So enjoy your little one with all the weirdness they come with and rest assured that everything will fall into place.
Sources: medlineplus.gov, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, babycenter.com, parents.com, healthychildren.org, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, pubmed/973490 / mayoclinic.org, newkidscenter.com, aboutkidshealth.ca
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