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  • Post last modified:January 16, 2021

Newborn baby appearance is far from the sweet look you will see in any commercial, especially if born vaginally. To be honest, newborns do look a bit odd. In this article, we sort out the reasons, from head to toes!

newborn baby appearance

Below we’ll walk you through the most common issues regarding newborn baby appearance from head to toe. If you also want to learn about your newborn baby’s development, milestones, and how to stimulate your little baby, click here.

Newborn Baby Appearance From Head To Toe

A Molded Head

Unless you had a caesarean, the skull of your newborn baby will probably be affected by what is called molding. The bones in his or her skull have been compressed or overlapped when they were forced through the vaginal canal, something that can give your baby’s head a squashed or elongated look.

You may also notice some bruising due to the delivery.

Both of these phenomena will usually disappear over the course of the first few days, although in my experience the head shape can stay funny for a few weeks.

Compressed Facial Features

Image Courtesy: Standford School Of Medicine

When studying the face of your newborn baby, you might be looking at a flattened ear, a squashed nose or even a crooked jaw. Not very pretty, but don’t worry, all of this is temporary.

Compressed facial features are a result of positioning in the uterus and are entirely normal.

You will also find that there may be a certain puffiness due to the presence of fluid accumulation, something else that will disappear in a few days. Eyelid edemas, as shown in the picture, are common among newborn infants, and resolve. within a few days.

Our youngest son, who was in a great hurry to enter the world, had such a large bruise over one of his eyes, that he couldn’t even open it during the first few days. Completely normal.

Newborn Skin Conditions

A newborn’s skin, which can be mottled or even blue due to the temperature drop can be especially alarming to new parents. Mostly the mottling is due to the pressure from the journey through the vaginal canal, and will go away. You might also see that your baby has some scratches or contusions, but like the rest, it will heal up in the first week or two.

Your newborn baby’s feet will often be blue, because the baby’s circulation is not all that effective yet, meaning the feet will be cold. (Especially as socks fall off all the time, as you will notice.)

Many babies get a nice tanned look during their first days of living. This is due to some degree of newborn jaundice. While a common condition, always let a pediatrician evaluate your baby if the skin tone starts becoming yellow.

In most cases, feeding the baby frequently and making sure the baby gets lots of daylight will be enough as prevention and treatment, but in some case the newborn jaundice becomes more severe and the baby will need supervision and treatment in hospital, including for example phototherapy (“sunbathing” under blue lights) or blood exchange transfusion.

After a few weeks, it is normal for the baby to shed skin – the skin will become very dry, making many new parents worried. However, this is a period when the baby’s skin learns to adapt to the outer environment and the best thing you can do is to leave the skin alone. If you find some very dry spots, you can massage them gently with breast milk. For more baby skin and hair care tips, click here.

Newborn baby skin can also be affected by several other conditions of which the most common are:

  • Baby Acne: A skin condition affecting many babies during their second month of life. Usually, doing nothing is the best treatment and the acne will clear on its own.
  • Diaper rash: Red irritated skin in the diaper area is something most babies will suffer from at some point. Caused by for example moist, soiled diapers or sensitivity the chemicals in the diapers. Find ways to prevent and treat diaper rash here.
  • Cradle Cap: This affects at least 40% of all babies and usually disappears at some point during the baby’s first 12 to 18 months. Cradle cap is yellow and greasy and you’ll most likely find it on your baby’s scull, forehead, eyebrows or behind the ears. The condition doesn’t need to be treated, but there are several effective home remedies that you can try if you don’t fancy the look it gives your baby. Learn more about cradle cap remedies hee.
  • Milia: A condition producing small white bumps on your newborn baby’s face, often for example on the nose. Don’t try to get rid of them. The bumps are caused be the retention of old skin. Some 50% of all newborn babies get milia to some extent and the condition usually resolves within a month or so.

Newborn Baby Hair

lanugo in newborn
Image Courtesy: Standford School Of Medicine

Some newborns come into the world with a fine coat of hair called lanugo covering their back, shoulders and neck. While this hair is usually shed in the uterus, it can occasionally be seen on premature babies.

Don’t worry; your new baby is not a werewolf! The lanugo will usually shed within a few days if not a few hours.

Other babies have a lot of head hair that will either continue to grow or fall off completely. In any case most babies get a bald spot at the back of their heads when a few months old.


Barrel-Chested Belly

Don’t worry if it seems that your baby’s stomach are appears to be quite full, as though he or she has eaten something quite large. This slightly barrel-chested look is normal, as is the site of your newborn’s skin pushing between the striations of muscle tissue on the chest. This goes away within a few months, and should not be alarming in terms of your baby’s health.Your baby’s umbilical cord stump will dry up and fall off within 10 to 20 days. For tips on how to care about the umbilical cord stump, click here.

Cramped Arms and legs

Some new parents are concerned about the fact that their baby’s limbs are cramped and a bit bowed. This is simply a result of being confined in the womb, as are their clenched fingers and toes. Before you know it, this stage will be a memory!

Also, newborn baby’s arm movements can make you start wondering if something is wrong with your baby. The arms flay out without control and may even start shaking almost as if the baby has a mild seizure. My midwife called it the “newborn movements” and told me they disappear quickly. They did, especially the shaking.

If your baby seems disturbed by his flaying arms you can try swaddling him. (To learn how to swaddle a baby, find instructions here.)

Chest with Breast Lumps

It is not a concern if you notice that your baby, male or female, has disk-shaped lumps on their chest that resemble breasts and may even lactate. This is just a by-product of living in their mother’s uterus and being exposed to estrogen for an extended period of time.

Swollen Genetalia

Most babies have enlarged or swollen genitals when they are born, and this is due to a combination of birth trauma and the high levels of estrogen that they have been exposed to. Newborn girls might experience a mini-period of mucous and blood during their first few weeks, which the doctors will tell you is perfectly normal.

Baby boys will also display some penile and scrotal enlargement, which tends to go down fairly quickly, but if it persists for more than 3 months, you might want to check it up with a doctor.

That was about it! As I’m sure you understand now, if you got this far, newborn baby appearance is NOT all cute… They are small mirices, for sure, but pretty… nah! But… within weeks, they are much prettier! <3

More About Your Newborn Baby

So how about your baby? What did he or she look like? I’d love to hear all about your newborn baby’s appearance!

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