When does a baby’s skin color stop changing? How does the color evolve, and what determines the final skin color? And how do we handle peoples’ views of our children’s looks?
Let’s discuss these important questions here.
This post started as a question from a worried mom about why her baby’s skin color is getting darker and what to do about it.
Worrying about your child’s skin color can seem wrong in the 21st century, but it is a very real issue for parents in some cultures. Passing judgment will not help. Talking about it will. :-)
I’ve answered the mom here, and many people have commented. Feel free to join in!
Let’s empower each other to focus on the inner and outer beauty of our children no matter the color of their skin!
My baby is 4 months old. She had a fair complexion at birth, but within 2 months, my baby’s complexion got darker. When does baby skin color stop changing? Why has my baby’s skin color changed so much, and can I do anything to make her fair again?
(Giridih, Jharkhand, India)
How Babys Skin Color Develops and Changes
What a beautiful baby girl you have! Congratulations!
Regarding her skin color, it is completely normal that your baby’s complexion is becoming darker with age. Most babies are relatively fair when newborn, but depending on race and genes, the baby’s skin then changes during the first year to its real color. So there is no need to worry at all!
Since you are from India, I would guess you are affected by the idea that fair skin is better than dark skin. The best you can do is try to ignore these old traditions, as your baby’s skin color says absolutely nothing about the qualities of your daughter. Our children need us to love them just the way they are, not wishing for them to be something else.
Also, there isn’t much you can do about it. I know there are old recommendations to massage babies with milk powder, for example, to make the skin fair, but that doesn’t help at all; these recommendations are all pure myths.
Keeping your daughter out of direct sunlight is good, of course, not the least for protecting her from being burnt.
Let’s take a look at how baby skin color changes, why, and what can be considered normal and abnormal skin colors for babies.
Newborn Baby Skin Color
Common Newborn Baby Skin Color Variations
Reddish-purple at Birth
Regardless of race, most babies are reddish-purple at birth. Their hands and feet may appear bluish (acrocyanotic), which is normal immediately after birth. This is due to blood and oxygen in the body going to the core and more important organs first, which are the brain, heart, lungs, and kidneys, rather than the extremities.
This normally resolves within his first 4 hours of life.
Yellowish due to physiologic jaundice
In a few days, you may notice your baby turning yellowish. This is called physiologic jaundice. This is caused by an increase in bilirubin (from the normal breakdown of red blood cells within a neonate’s body) in the bloodstream. This increase will cause yellowish color that is more noticeable in a baby’s eyes (sclera).
This usually starts in the face and spreads out to the trunk and the limbs. The bilirubin is processed by the liver and excreted via feces or urine. Sunlight exposure usually helps break down and decrease bilirubin in the body.
This yellowish color will resolve on its own within 14 to 28 days (maximum number of days). Anything more than that is not normal, especially when it is accompanied by signs of inability to gain weight and poor suckling/feeding.
You should call your doctor immediately if you notice changes like these in your baby or if the yellow discoloration persists.
Newborn babies may also exhibit a blue or purple-colored patch of skin in their lower back or buttocks. This is called congenital dermal melanocytosis, more commonly known as Mongolian spots. This is due to a concentration of hyperpigmented cells. This usually resolves within the first 4 years of life.
African American babies and Native American, Asian, Hispanic, and African descent babies are often born with a Mongolian spot.
A dark or bright red raised bump may appear on a baby’s head or other body parts in the first 2 months of life. These are called hemangiomas. Hemangiomas are formed by a concentration of immature tiny blood vessels, usually forming a strawberry-shaped bump (strawberry hemangiomas).
These are more common in premature babies and girls. They may grow in size but will usually fade on their own and completely disappear by age 9.
A flat, colored (pink, red, or dark-colored) birthmark may appear on the baby’s neck or face. This is called the port-wine stain. This is caused by a concentration of dilated capillaries. They do not fade or disappear over time.
Abnormal skin discoloration in newborns
This is the bluish or purplish discoloration occurring around the face, mouth, or body. Cyanosis is an indicator that there is not enough oxygen circulation around the body. This may be caused by lung failure, infection, or heart condition. This warrants an urgent trip to the hospital.
Mottling occurs as bluish-purplish blotchy skin discoloration, usually indicative of an infection, poor blood circulation, or a heart condition. This is common in ill babies and premature babies. You should call your doctor immediately when you notice this.
These red bumps can grow over time. Surgical treatment is required when they start to bleed or obstruct an organ.
Pallor means pale skin. This can occur due to anemia, albinism, a chronic disease of the kidney, lungs, or heart, and other diseases that may interfere with melanin production.
Polycythemia is a rare blood disorder that presents as red skin on the face. This is caused by too many red blood cells produced by the bone marrow.
When Does Baby Skin Color Stop Changing?
Over the coming six months or more, the baby’s true skin color will develop, which is entirely controlled by genes, and not something we can control at all.
A baby’s skin should fully settle by 20 months of age.
What Determines a Baby’s Skin Color?
A baby’s skin color is a polygenic trait. This means that it depends on more than 1 gene. A baby receives half of the genetic makeup from each of his parents. His physical features come from the dominant genes of both his parents. This combination will ultimately determine the baby’s skin color.
This is one of the charming parts of having children! They are their unique person, for us as parents to love and support them just as they are!
The picture above shows that even twins can have different skin colors! It is very uncommon, but it does happen. The most common explanation for this would be that they are NOT identical twins, i.e., they share as many genes as any siblings would.
But how about monozygotic, that is, identical twins? Identical twins are always the same sex, share identical blood groups and genetic makeup, and always look very much like each other – to the extent that it can be difficult for people to tell them apart. However, there are actually documented cases of identical twins with different skin colors, and the explanation may be due to some genetic changes in one of these genes that control skin color after the twins separate in the womb – so-called somatic mutation, according to Dr. Claire Steves from the Department of Twin Research. (See reference below)
Anyway, the takeaway is that you never know for sure what skin color your baby will have. It depends on several different genes from the biological parents. There is also nothing that can be done to affect what skin color your child will have.
What NOT to do
Since your baby’s skin color is determined by genes, there is no way to change or predetermine it. If you hear recommendations for the use of fairness creams, talcum powder, or different types of homemade creams, you can be sure that a.) they won’t work, and b.) they may hurt your baby’s skin and lead to skin irritation.
What to Do
As I said at the beginning of this post, the best you can do is to embrace your baby’s appearance just the way she is and stand on her side to fight the skin color prejudice that still, sadly, exists worldwide.
To empower yourself to fight old values regarding skin color, I recommend the book Living Color: The Biological and Social Meaning of Skin Color. It does not specifically deal with skin color values in India but on a broader level.
Also, watch this video that explains how a baby’s skin color changes from newborn complexion to its final skin color in a clear way, as well as what effect different efforts to change the skin color will have.
Also, don’t forget the sunscreen!
Update: This question has received a lot of comments; join in below! :-)
This Post Has 49 Comments
Hi Paula ,
I am a first time mom of 1 month old baby boy .I understand everything like how we should just love our baby regardless of his /her skin colour .
I am pale and my husband is wheatish .
I find my son dark on days ,wheatish on days .
But deep down I wanted him to be like me .Whenever somebody says he looks nothing like you but his dad .I become upset .I can’t stop thinking about his skin colour and looks .
I can’t sleep ,eat .
Postpartum depression is really hitting hard .What should I do to overcome this ?
I am doing injustice with my child .Not loving him the way I have planned ,thought of just because of his skin colour .How fair is that ? Any help would be appreciated
Congratulations on your baby! I am so sorry to hear that you feel depressed. Postpartum depression can happen to anyone and has nothing to do with your child’s appearance. However, feeling depressed can trigger all sorts of negative thoughts and emotions. My top advice is that you turn to your doctor or midwife to get prompt help with your depression. Even though being a new mom is overwhelming for most, real depression should be taken seriously. Don’t wait!
Not feeling any overwhelming love at first sight of your new baby is completely normal. Love doesn’t just happen, it grows. I read somewhere that it takes about six months for a baby to become a given part of a family. After that, it is hard to even imagine how life was before this new person existed. But until then, everything is new. After just one month, you are both (or all three!) still adapting to life outside the womb. Your body is healing, hormones are all over the place, your baby is also slowing just adapting, and not very communicative yet. You might be completely sleep deprived, breasts are hurting, there’s a lot of worrying and not much fun. “Is this what it’s like to have a baby!?”. Well, don’t worry, it is NOT. It is what it’s like to have a new baby. It passes. In just a month or two, things will have started to feel much more normal, and you have started to grow a bond with your little son. :-)
Regarding your thoughts about your son’s skin color. I think you are brave to admit them. As you write, you know very well that they are unreasonable. Most likely, you can just write them off as negative thoughts related to your baby blues. You can also challenge them: So, your son doesn’t have the exact skin color you would have wished. So, what..? Take time to study his appearance – his little nose, mouth, eyes, hands, feet. He is all a “product” of you and your husband. Focus on looking at him with lots of love no matter how “perfect” any of his features are. He’s your baby! Alive and developing. Being just one month old, he might still look a bit funny, (Newborn Baby Appearance and Why They Look So Funny!) but his looks will change dramatically during the next few months.
So, again, get help for your depression. Now! On top of that, relax. Love and bonding grows over time. Focus on cuddling, keeping your baby close, making contact, playing, and just enjoying him! (Awesome 1-Month-Old Baby Development Milestones, Games & Toys). He needs you!
One leg is complete bluish and rest of the body is very fair in juSt born baby boy? Will I explain what is the problem
What is wrong with you all? Skin color is not important in life. The fact that you are lucky enough to be able to have healthy children of any color is amazing. Surely you know if you are light and your partner is dark that or vice versa there is a 50/50 chance your child will be dark. Take your little miracles, give them a big hug and get over yourselves. You are the ones with the problem, not the baby as they have no preconceived ideas of what beauty is until society fills their head with rubbish.
There is nothing wrong with your kids whether they have fair or dark completion thank God at least you are able to have kids, there are many people who want to be able to have kids but can’t, so be thankful and stop hating yourselves. Beauty is inside not outside. My husband looks like a model and I am not “great looking” and people always ask how come he choose you? My husband says I care about your brain, not your looks… so try to spend the time in making your kids inside beautiful not their outside. Break the Taboos!! FOR GOD’S SAKE WAKE UP and STOP SELF HATRED!
My baby boy 3 months was too fair when born.bv gradually his only face color is getting dark. I’m fair but my hubby is dark… What can I do to stop it?
hi, I’m Leela. when my baby born she is fair but her ears were dark. whoever c her told she will become dark. now she is 6mnths old her face is fair but her body is dark why is it?
Good day, I contains,my baby getting darker it’s,just I need to know if it’s,normal for him to have his thighs,change darlings,of his,legs and tummy in patches… his dad is dark I just have never experienced this before that is,why I ask. He is not 4 months old.
I am not really sure I understand what you mean – does your baby have isolated patches that are darker? He is not dry or has eczema in these areas? It can certainly happen that skin color is a bit different between for example face and legs, or that the feet are bluish when newborn. But patches sounds different. Have you shown it to a doctor or health nurse?
Sorry for not really being able to help! Let me know what you find out!
Hello my 2 years 4 months baby girl has had eczema since birth,took her to GP’s and they said it was atopic dermatitis,problem it has started to cause skin discolaration ,she is naturally Light but has huge patches and her skin has dark patches on her arms,legs and butt yet the rest of her body is light light and she is forever scratching her body,even when I don’t see eczema despite the countless medicationa i got from doctors,my question ,can this be reversed and she have no patches of these dark skin,will she outgrow it naturally or should I start taking her to a specialist.
It isn’t strange that her skin gets a darker color where she has some sort of eczema. I definitely think you should take her to a specialist to sort out the reasons for eczema and itchy skin. Has she been tested for any food allergies, for example? Do you remember when this all started? Cow’s milk allergy, for example, is a common reason for eczema in babies, toddlers, and young children.
I hope your daughter get the help she needs. Don’t give up! And plese let us know your progress.
Hello doctor, I am from Punjab and my name is Nisha. My baby is just 10mnth old. When she was born she is so fair and beautiful but now she is so dark in color. My color is fair but my husband is also dark in color. So doctor pls tell me some homemade tips then I make my baby color again fair and beautiful.
I know very well how fair skin is perceived much more beautiful than dark in India. But since skin color is inherited, there really is nothing to do about it!
Instead of mourning your daughter’s color, make up your mind to be her fighter – she is just as beautiful as any fair child!
This is the 21st century and no child anywhere should be judged by skin color, in my opinion. So stand up for her and yourself and accept and love her just the way she is, even if it is against the common views where you live.
I am a “VERY PALE” white woman… who had a biracial child with a “VERY DARK” black man.
My child came out “VERY PALE” white… as in… light pink… with dark blue eyes… and literally… The joy a mother feels for her child was stripped away and replaced with total fear and confusion when my baby wasn’t even 10 hours old… all because her father wanted a paternity test… he literally left, and sent me a text message as soon as he got in the car saying that if she didn’t change soon he’d need a paternity test because he didn’t think she looked like him. In his defense, she looked purely Caucasian. Anyways, it hurt my feelings so badly that she didn’t resemble her father in skin tone… that I literally spent a full week crying because this blessing that I received… this healthy and amazingly beautiful baby girl I had… WASNT DARK ENOUGH… I never cared about her pigment… I could see him in all of her features… this gorgeous little girl looked just like him.. I spent the first 10 hours of her life thinking how crazy it was that I had a baby with the man I loved so much… but her skin tone was so drastically different from HIS and so close to MINE that he automatically assumed I must have been with someone else… I literally damn near lost my mind and thought maybe I was taken by aliens and experimented on or something (bad joke but I really said this while bawling my eyes out in confusion and disbelief)…
Because of this reason… as a first time mother… I had a lot of questions about biracial children, pigmentation, genetics and the way they work… I could personally care less about her appearance… I just didn’t know it was possible to have white children. I, (being undereducated in what it truly meant to be biracial) assumed all mixed children were a perfect blend of each parent… and expected her to be darker than me and lighter than him… I thought my family was going to fall apart due to my daughters skin tone…
I literally spent weeks praying for her melanin to come in like RIGHT NOW because I was being judged so ruthlessly like my child wasn’t his… and I just wanted her to be undeniably his to everyone…
The fact that I let my guy and his family throw me into postpartum depression, in my most vulnerable moment as a mother.. dealing with hormones I didn’t have control over… all because the color of my child’s skin tone… it really made me feel like the worst mother in the world.. literally I didn’t know how to forgive myself for crying over her LACK of melanin early on…
It really bothers me that so many women are over here complaining about their child’s complexion with absolutely no valid reasoning… other than being prejudice against light and dark skin tones… a fair skinned child is just as beautiful as a dark skinned child. Children with melanin are BEAUTIFUL and you guys should be absolutely ashamed of yourself… How selfish are some of you? Trying to stop them from gaining their melanin instead of embracing their natural beauty…
I really hope some of you women take into consideration how it makes a child, YOUR CHILD feel… to be judged for such an ignorant reason… and how offensive and stressful it is on the other parent or people who love and accept them genuinely… I was hurt, because I felt like my child wasn’t being accepted and it ruined or tarnished some of my most valuable memories.
This kind of stuff really bothers me… how sad guys…
Paula, thank you for the kind and compassionate way you answer worried mothers. You are a blessing and a great role model for providing supportive knowledgable answers. Thank you!
Thanks a lot, Brittany, for your kind words! :-)
My baby boy is 5 weeks old. When he was born he was white but now he is black. His father is white but my color is not.
It’s really sad that dark complexions in a baby can make the parents sad. Every child is created just beautifully, in every shade and color, and should be celebrated and loved just the way they are.
We shouldn’t burden our children with OUR issues and these old traditions of beauty which are colonialist and completely shallow.
Children are a blessing and are ALL beautiful! Make sure you love them and celebrate them just the way they ARE, not mourn who you wish they were.
My baby is very dark like charcoal, while I have very light skin. But the dad is charcoal too, I feel like crying.
Hi!! I had a baby girl born 24 weeks 1 pound 5 ounces. She had a lot of complications and is currently in the hospital after 4 months. She had jaundice but that was taken care of early in life. Her body has darkened but her face is still lite. Some days she looks light and some days she looks olive. When is her complexion going to set in and why her complexion still changing?
I am sorry to hear that your girl was born so early, but it is fantastic that she survived and is making progress.
Regarding her complexion; Still being almost premature or at least has just now reached the age when she should have been born, she is probably still very small and skinny. During the months to come, she will put on weight and then probably start to appear more in line with her true skin color.
But regardless of her color – she is a fantastic fighter and a small miracle. So try not to worry about her appearance at all, instead cherish every moment with your little darling.
My daughter was almost born in week 25, but with medical help and bed rest for three months she was just a little bit early when she was born. But I did learn some about the risks and problems of born so early.
Take care of yourself and your little girl. Soon enough she will be a chubby, giggling little baby girl.
My baby is dark when he is born. Will he gain color after a few weeks? I and my husband is fair.
Hi! My baby was born with a very fair skin tone. She has just completed her 6th month and now I noticed that her skin is turning a bit dark in colour, except for the face which is still bright. I was worried that she might have some undiagnosed condition. But I’m glad that it’s pretty normal. More than her skin tone, her health is more important to me.
It is because of parents like these, the white race is snobbish and egoistic even in the 21st century. These parents (especially Indians) should get some life and thank almighty atleast 100 times a day for blessing them with a child first and then for a healthy child. Not surprised so many Indians commenting here, they are unusual people with such double standards. They are amazingly thankless and always dissatisfied with life. May God bless them with some sanity.
my daughter is 3 month old and have reddish brown hair color…she was fair when born but gradually her skin is getting dark…what could be the reason for that????
Is it building of melanin causing it??? will it also change the hair color
As an Afro Caribbean woman I honestly feel like you’re feeding these women’s foolishness by even continuing to answer so many questions after having already fully explained in your initial responses. These women are ridiculous. If you are BLACK or dark skinned….why on earth would you be sad or shocked if your child gets a dark complexion? So backward. And yes I am judging. Silly.
Hi, me and my husband are fair but my little one turned really dark. He was born at 35 weeks and really red. Even scalp was also deep red. Third day redness was gone but after few days he turned really dark now he is 13 weeks old but on his face some light spots are there but cheeks are dark, nose under the skin is also dark that means skin above the upper lip. But body hands and legs are really dark. Anyone experienced this problem. What color he would get? Any suggestions?
Hi, same problem here, me and my husband are fair my son turned very dark whole body looks very dark don’t know the reason. Everyone started asking why he looks so dark. Now he is 3 months old but no change. When did she started getting lighter i mean in which month?
me and my husband both fair but my son is body is darker and face is fair now he is 3 and half month. i am worry about it.his ear half lighter.even body some areas lighter should i worry
It is quite natural that the body color varies a little bit over the body. It just shows more if someone is darker. Unless he seems to have some skin condition, making it dry, raw, with very definded color differences in certain areas or something else, I wouldn’t worry. I hope your son is just fine!
This is anusha. My baby was born pink. At 10th day she became black and slowly she gained her color again in few months. But her legs are very black than her whole body. She is now 20 months. Also her legs are little dry than her whole body. Is there any skin issues or nothing to worry about. I’m not bothered what color is she. I love her a lot. But scared whether it would be a skin problem.
Hi Anusha! So sorry for the late reply, I somehow missed your question. If your daughter still has very dry legs, try a lotion or organic oil. If the skin is dry it can certainly appear to have a slightly different color than the rest of her body. If you are very concerned, show it to a doctor! But I have never heard about a worrying skin condition that would just be concentrated to the legs. Good luck!
Hi Paula, me and my husband are fair but my little boy is 13 weeks old and he turned very dark color. What is the reason. His hands and legs looks very dark. Will he change that color please advise.
It takes a while before a baby’s “true” skin color appears. I wouldn’t worry or do anything if I were you. Even several kinds of birth marks disappear or fade over time. The only reasonable to be concerned would be if you believe that your baby is ill in some way – then talk to a dockor. If it is just a worry of a beauy flaw – let it go! Best, Paula
Nobody in India hates their skin tone
The males all marry their females anyways
Talk about the amounts of plastic surgery and almost deadly diets that westerners do even for minor issues.
Hi doc, my baby is 7 weeks old and when she born her skin was fair but my husband said because I’m breastfeeding her she taking my color. I’m not fair but husband is fair skin .is breast milk can change my baby’s color ?
I can’t believe
A person’s skin color comes from his or her DNA. Nothing else. The only thing your breastmilk will do to your baby, is to make her healthy. Don’t worry about your daugher’s skin color, just enjoy her and think of her as perfect just the way she is.
I have three children all for my husband. The first two boys are light in complexion but my daughter is darker. I expected her to be as light as they are. What could be the cause for her being darker?
Seriously what is WRONG with you people? Go take care of your kids and stop asking dumb vain questions. There are so many women out there who wish they could be blessed with one child much less three!!!
Skin color is all about genes. A large number of genes contribute to skin color in a number of different ways which results in a complicated process influencing a child’s skin color. If your baby has a darker skin color than any of you, then he or she most likely got color from your parents or grandparents or even generations before that.
Due to this, it is entirely possible, but unusual that even white parents give birth to a dark baby and vice versa. I think that is quite exciting! Enjoy parenthood and your baby and don’t worry about her color.
This is a good question. I know this is a common belief and a lot of parents say that it’s been true for their children. But quite a few state the opposite too. I have searched high and low to find any kind of research to back it up. I’ve found nothing though. This doesn’t mean that it is wrong, but to honest, I can’t say. Anyone else having thoughts on this? How about YOUR child?
Well, I hope and think you are wrong, Evet! There are so many children with parents of different origins, there are adopted children, foster care, all sorts of reasons why a child may not look exactly like one or both of their parents.
My experience is that children are often more open-minded than adults. They ask, you answer and then they get on with their life.
Of course the child may get questions or comments, but if the parents are open and cool about it from the start, chances are much higher that this will never be a problem at all.
You are delusional. I was teased mercilessly as a child for my nose. Other kids I knew had it much worse. The 6 fingered boy was eventually removed from school. Kids are horrible to those who are different. It’s inborn tribal mentality.
Thanks Paula for such sharing great advises with everyone,
My 3 month old daughter has little dark legs but her face color is fair.
Anything we should try to make body complexion same over face and legs.
My baby is also soo dark, i want a immediate solution yo get fair
Give the child to someone who will love and cherish her, dark skin and all. You’re unfit. Your focus is completely wrong. Coming here to ask this outrageous question. It’s sad to think you will treat this child poorly because of a skin colour that YOU and her father have her, through genetics. Some of you Should not have kids.
Girl. I’m feelin’ the same way. IDK what is wrong with the women who are sayin, “My baby was real light, or light brown skin, or brown skin medium light caramel brown and now is dark skin after a few weeks or months. WOW. smh. My mother is cocoa dark brown. Not dark skin. My father? Real light skin P.R.male. still married, and i came out and stayed real light skin. with thick black lovely hair coarse THICK hair, love my blackness black people and lighter black and hispanic. dark skin hispanic blk brother. We love for inside beauty.
My niece is now real light, at 1 minute old, she came out REAL WHITE TO FAIR SKIN and was then DARK skin only at 8 weeks, and then by pre-k, kindergarten in 2005 she was light skin,
to light medium-brown skin halle perfect shade or janet jackson brown . she changed, and she is now permanent teen years brown skin and healthy most important. just love the child and if not? Give it up.
For real ….
for GOD’s sake, give her to some 1 who will adopt her love her and raise her happily, the same way you ALL would want to be raised wit’ most important LOVE NURTURE GUIDANCE, in a lovely safe drama free happy home. LIDDY i agree chica.adios.
doctor, my son age 3 and half month. his body is deferance color. me and my husband both fair but my sone face is fair bout body is darker. ear below lighter up is darker.even his body same places lighter than other should i worry about it.why my baby is become dark skin as me and my hasband has lighter skin.i am thing about it too much.