Let’s start with some great news- rare doesn’t have to mean anything negative or worrisome. Rare just means rare! Take that hand off the phone, take a deep breath and don’t dial up the pediatrician just yet- a lot of rare developments are more like future ice breakers for your now-child one-day adult (was that not good to bring up? Sorry, forget it, they’ll be little forever). Plus, there’s plenty of time to pester your pediatrician with calls and questions. They get today off.
These are just unique details that will make for even more interesting people down the road. And if some of the unique ways baby is developing aren’t necessarily positive, it’s great that they’re being noticed early and we’re living in the best time of medicine so it’s never been more manageable. Just a few little nuggets to keep in mind while reading about your little nugget! And if none of these traits line up with baby’s current development, that’s cool too! That just means their hidden little everyday superpowers of what makes them a special person haven’t emerged yet and we all get that much more time to guess and get ready for the awesomeness they contain.
Natal teeth (or teeth that a baby is born with) is only known to occur in about 1 in every 3,000 births. It’s generally recommended that the teeth only be removed if they’re loose, more to prevent a potential hazard than anything. Unless they interfere with feeding, you're good. Teeth don’t typically erupt until about six months of age, with all baby teeth coming in during the toddler years, so natal teeth do typically suggest an underlying medical issue that should be examined. Natal teeth look more like one or a few teeth than a whole set of pearly chompers in a baby’s little mouth.
It’s a pretty common aphorism that a baby’s development should be measured by stage and not age. Since infants are racing through so many milestones, a more accurate comparison is between infants experiencing the same stages (sitting up on their own, crawling, etc) rather than the evaluation of babies who may be born just days apart but act differently. That said, the range for a baby’s first words is pretty wide but if your little one is speaking before one year old- that’s definitely special. Congrats! Talk to your little one, imitate their noises and read to that smarty pants plenty.
A baby's eyesight is adjusting to the outside world in those first few weeks, but between six and ten weeks is when an infant will direct their gaze more intentionally, typically at a caregiver. Typically around three months, the baby will follow that caregiver’s movements. While babies can be encouraged to maintain eye contact by holding them about ten to twenty inches away from the parent’s face and not expecting any long staring contests, especially when they’re hungry or tired. That said, if after three months they’re still not holding eye contact, it may be time to meet with a specialist.
We’re not talking about complex social cues like when to ditch a party because two people want to be alone or how to react to not-so-great homemade food cooked by a roommate’s parents. The threshold for babies handling social cues is much simpler. In this case, we mean responding to people waving at them, tracking facial expressions and other basic indicators. It may not be all that obvious very early in life that a child has trouble handling social cues, and while it’s helpful to stay alert and aware, there’s something to be said for not reading too much into insignificant moments.
Heterochromia iridis is an eye condition that can have a lot of different appearances. For some, one iris may be blue and the other is brown. That’s the most noticeable form, but segmental heterochromia means that the same iris may have different colors. This can affect one or both eyes. While most cares are sporadic and don’t signify any underlying health issues, heterochromia iridis (when both eyes are totally different colors) may be a symptom of a syndrome. However, if that’s the case then there are typically other symptoms than just eye coloring. It’s worth repeating that this is the more rare explanation and different colored eyes are typically a very innocuous, pretty characteristic.
Of all the signs of a latent little genius, what an incredibly appealing one. So convenient. Sure, we all want our children to live up to their potential but when living up to that potential also means taking a huge, messy chore off our hands- that’s just gravy. It’s definitely rare but some very intelligent little ones will begin to potty train themselves by observing adults and instituting that behavior. It’s natural for an insightful, mature child to not be content with their current situation (re:diaper). That’s code for requiring slightly less bribery, if none at all, to get this obstacle out of the way. Well, congrats! Different colored eyes are cute, but this one is just great news.
This is a very clear sign of a large source of upset, even in a pre-verbal child. Not just tantrum-level upset, but clearly there’s been some kind of change in their life that’s done this. If it’s not readily obvious what the stressor has been to you as the parent (for instance, moving or the introduction of a new family member), then it’s definitely worth looking into their routine. If they’re able to, it’s also worth talking to them about it since this development isn’t just an intrinsic fact about their character- it’s a reaction to something upsetting.
And it’s just in time for the reboot of that movie, “Unbreakable”! Yup, there’s literally a superhero whose superpower is just a heightened version of a real condition. This is a gene responsible for designing and constructing the outer membrane of our cells. So a mutation of this cell leads to incredibly dense bones, sometimes even bones eight times denser than usual. This can have the cartoonish side effects of causing a person with the mutation to sink when they try to swim or never breaking a bone. Other than the difficulty screwing prosthetic bones in, there are not many negative side effects.
While an infant who doesn't respond to their name by year one isn’t definitive proof of autism, it is a “useful indicator of children who would benefit from a more thorough developmental assessment," says Aparna S. Nadig, Ph.D., of the University of California Davis MIND Institute in Sacramento. On the other hand, just because an infant responds to their name doesn’t disqualify them from developing autism later on. It’s not an open or shut case- just a rare signifier of something worth looking into with professional help. Consider it not a red flag so much as an orange flag- still proceed to the pediatrician, but take time to breathe deeply.
Synesthesia is already a flat-out interesting phenom. For those of us who haven’t already spent years obsessed with children laying out how the rainbow corresponds to their piano’s keys, here’s a layman’s explanation- synesthesia is more or less seeing sounds and hearing sights. It sounds weird, but many of us associate a number with a color- this is a far more intense version of that. Colors can trigger sounds to some people and vice versa- it’s a trait anecdotally linked to many musicians. While it’s difficult to prove in infants because of their natural co-mingling of senses, experiments have been conducted.
Just like every other milestone we’ve discussed, smiling comes at different times in different cases. Despite those adorable chubby cheeks, some babies also aren’t natural smilers. They’re busy with coordinating movements, dealing with unexplained tummy aches (unexplained to them) and might prefer fussing and crying. A non-smiley might even show pleasure in different ways- like cooing or energetically moving around. Of course, a baby is also wired to adapt to you so the more you smile, the more likely they are to. It’s good to remember that being born involves a lot of overwhelming work- a premature or once sick infant might still be simply adjusting.
As a child psychologist lays it out, “if a baby isn’t babbling normally, something may be interrupting what should be a critical chain”. This could be on your end of the verbal chain- even something as simple as not speaking enough to the infant. However, if that’s not the case then it’s more likely that something is wrong in receiving those words- whether that’s in the ears or in the brain. Developmental psychologists enthusiastically describe babbling as, “an essential precursor to speech, and as a key predictor of both cognitive and social emotional development" and as one of the few truly universal languages- the language of toddlers.
The name “Uncontrollable Hair Syndrome” is a pretty self-explanatory phrase. A rare mutation in the PADI3, TGM3, and TCHH genes leads to straight-up hair, typically light blonde or straw colored. There’s literally no cure, but it’s believed to become more manageable with age. This transcends a bad hair day- Uncontrollable Hair Syndrome results in unmanageable, slow growing hair. The great news is that this isn’t painful or dangerous, but it might be time to invest in some hats while and you and the little one adjust. Plus, the syndrome is known to randomly regress in late childhood, and studies have suggested biotin can help.
Around this age is a common time for parents to worry that their children may develop autism. The worrier and the reasonable parent within compete, both of them weighing the reassurance of a child smiling, making eye contact as an infant or playing peek-a-boo. There’s also the concern of a child not speaking after a year old, but not all deviations in behavior have to do with mental syndromes. It could also be possible that a child has grown immune to their environment, so if the household is naturally noisy then they’d tuned out a higher volume. There’s also definitely the chance of a baby being born deaf.
Hyper-intelligent children often require less sleep than their parents or same-aged counterparts and still remain exceptionally alert and engaged. That’s both great news to a parent and bad news for a sleep-deprived adult. On top of that, a mutation in the DEC 2 gene has been found to influence a body’s Circadian rhythm so that six hours of sleep goes just as far as eight. Only about five percent of our population can sustainably get by on that lack of sleep, as opposed to people who are constantly only sleeping six hours and are operating on a sleep deficiency.
Your navel is more or less a very unique scar. Sure, it looks more like the underside of a balloon’s knot, but it’s actually scar tissue from where the umbilical cord was attached, connecting fetus and a mother’s placenta when the child was still in utero. That said, a fetus who developed in the womb can still grow into a child with an almost invisible belly button. As one pediatric surgeon says, "Most parents of babies with gastroschisis don't even see the belly button, but it's there”. This is because babies with gastroschisis have some kind of hole between their abdominal wall on one side of the umbilical cord.
Crossed eyes in newborns is completely natural- the eyeballs still move independently of each other. However, this becomes less regular after three or four months. Plenty of methods can be employed with a doctor’s help to correct this- from eye patching and drops to something as serious as surgery. While newborns typically have this appearance because of extra skin covering the inner corner of the eye, they also might possess a wide-bridged nose they haven’t yet begun to grow into. Especially after a few months have passed in a child’s life, it’s important to pursue treatment so that the condition doesn’t worsen. The U.S. Optometric Association suggests any child over four months with crossed eyes have an optometrist’s evaluation.
"It is the rarest ... type in the entire world. So rare that only around 40 people are recorded to have it and there are only nine donors in the world."
Because the Rhnull type can be considered 'universal' for anyone with rare types within the Rh system, its life-saving capability is enormous. As such, it's also highly prized by doctors – although it will be given to patients only in extreme circumstances, and after very careful consideration, because it may be nigh on impossible to replace."
Most parents are concerned that their child brings far too many things to their mouth, or that they bring everything to their mouth except for food. So while the issue at hand typically has to do with a baby’s resistance to feeding if they’re not putting things to their mouth to explore them orally and some parents are just concerned because it feels wrong, some worry this has some bearing on intellectual development. It’s less concerning if the baby is using their hands to explore the same objects, but it’s also a habit that typically picks up once a child is into teething.
Largely, pediatricians stress that a baby may begin to sit up unassisted any time between four and nine months and to never rush it. That said, if your child is approaching the older end of that spectrum with seemingly little progress, doctors do recommend parents test their infants motor skills in other ways. This means making sure they can hold their head up using their neck muscles and that infants possess trunk or abdominal muscles. These can be tested by encouraging tummy time (sometimes by incorporating C-shaped pillows) to strengthen neck and arm muscles and later on, practicing sitting up with the aid of pillows.