You may always wonder what a normal baby should look like. And what seems odd to us sometimes are actually newborn babies’ normal characteristics.
Before you become parents, you might have a picture in mind of what a newborn baby looks like. You may imagine a cherub-like baby with soft and tender skin, bumpy cheeks, and a sweet smile. However, when your baby is first born, they don’t look like that much.
Freshly delivered newborns have the normal characteristics of being covered in good and other fun stuff. Their skin may look blotchy and rashy-red, and their hands and fingers might have a tinge of the colour blue.
It is very much understandable that parents would be frightened by the sight of their newborns. But, most of these icky and unsettling newborn features are totally normal. Yes. N-o-r-m-a-l.
It may be helpful to know what to expect so you may not be alarmed if what your baby would look like after birth. So mums and dads, let us review what the normal characteristics of newborns are.
Normal Characteristics of a Newborn
Whether you are a new parent or a veteran, you might be concerned and curious about why your baby looks like that. Many of the (physical) conditions that we will be talking about here are common and normal characteristics of a newborn.
These conditions will diminish or change as soon as your baby develops and grows. But to make sure if a feature is really normal, you may need the help of a paediatrician.
The newborn’s characteristics that you need to take note of are in the list below.
Newborn characteristics of skin:
- At birth, the skin of a normal newborn has purplish-red colour. Then, within minutes, the skin turns pink. We can frequently see that the skin and feet are blue during the early hours of your baby’s life.
- Jaundice to some degree is normal for newborn babies in their first week of life. Usually, this is due to the immaturity of their livers and is not a health condition for your baby.
Newborn characteristics of the head:
- Moulding may refer to the long, narrow, cone-shaped head that is caused by the passage through a tight birth canal. If the OB-gynaecologist sed a vacuum to deliver your baby, you might notice more moulding and/or bruising. Your baby’s head will return to its normal shape in a few days.
- You may also notice a “soft spot” found in the top front part of the head.
- The head closes with a bone when your baby is between 12 and 18 months old.
Characteristics of the newborn’s eyes:
- The newborn baby’s eyes are puffy because of the pressure on the face during delivery.
- The production of “crossed-eyes” and jerky, uneven movements, are normal. Your baby’s muscle control of their eye movement is still in development.
Newborn characteristics of the nose:
Your baby’s nose could have been misshapen during the birth process. It may be flattened or pushed to one side. It will go normal after 1 week of age.
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Characteristics of newborn’s reproductive organs:
- Swollen breasts are noticeable during the first week of life in many boy and girl babies.
- Your baby’s genital may be swollen, too.
- Erections usually occur in a newborn baby boy, which means the bladder is full and nerves are normal.
Newborn characteristics of feet:
Your baby’s feet might be turned in any direction inside the cramped quarters of the uterus or womb.
Characteristics of newborn’s hair:
In some cases, you may find lanugo in your baby after birth. Lanugo is the fine downy hair that is noticeable on your baby’s back and shoulders. It is more common to happen in premature babies.
The use of the APGAR scale to assess the characteristics of a newborn
To use the APGAR scale, a doctor gives a score for each sign at one minute and five minutes after birth. If there are problems with the baby, an additional score is given at 10 minutes.
In cesarean delivered babies, a baby is additionally assessed 15 minutes after the delivery.
A means activity movement of the muscles, P stand for a pulse, G means grimace (response to care), second A stands for the appearance of the skin, and R means respiration/breathing.
||Activity (muscle tone)
||Arms and legs flexed
||Below 100 bpm
||Above 100 bpm
||Sneeze, cough, pulls away
||Appearance (skin color)
||Blue-gray, pale all over
||Normal, except for extremities
||Normal over the entire body
- A baby with a score of 7 to 10 is considered normal.
- 4 to 7 points may require some resuscitative measures.
- A baby with APGAR of 3 and below requires immediate resuscitation.
You may request or demand your doctor to get your baby’s APGAR, just to make sure. Either way, your doctor or OB-gynaecologist shall give it away to prevent any complications, and to ensure your baby is alive and normal.
When Does Baby’s Skin Colour Stop Changing?
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Researchers accounted that a baby’s skin became lighter and less red between 2 to 2o months old. Additionally, a baby’s skin was found to increase yellow pigment until they reach 20 months old.
However, this study was performed on small sample size, and the racial and ethnic orientations of the babies in the research are unclear. Various ethnic skin tones may change differently, becoming either darker or lighter over time.
Newborn babies can have different skin colours when they are born. Your baby’s skin color might change over time and should settle fully at around 20 months old.
Due to a natural occurrence of genetics, your baby may look more like one of the parents than the other, or may not look like either.
Certain skin colours are typical and common for a newborn baby. But there are various complications or health conditions that can result in a baby’s particular skin colour. If this is alarming, you should contact your baby’s doctor immediately.
When Do Babies’ Looks Change From the Past Normal Characteristics
Arguably, your baby changes more in the first year of their life than during their 12-month period of life. If ever you are concerned with how your baby looks, wait for a while. You may expect some dramatic changes in a relatively short period of time.
Notice that babies gain lots of weight during the first year of life. Weight typically doubles during their 5 to 6 months, then triples by 1 year of age. This rapid weight gain will significantly affect your baby’s appearance, filling out their frame and becoming adorably chubby.
Other alterations come even more quickly. Bruising on your baby’s face from cramped womb position should fade within days after birth. Their unusual head shape and their head lumps may also begin to settle and look normal after a few days of life.
Lanugo also doesn’t take long to fall off. A few weeks into your baby’s life, this fine, fuzzy hair at their back and shoulders should begin to be replaced with normal body hair or vellus. Meanwhile, the hair on their head will start to grow, too.
Eye colour, too, may take some time to fully develop. According to experts, you might see eye colour changes, especially in grey or blue-eyed babies (depending on culture and race), starting at around 6 months of age, and can take a couple of years to get to their final colour.
So mums and dads, even if you find your newborn baby without a cute face, better review the normal characteristics of a newborn baby. These features are normal, but if you mind and find something odder than what is normal, better consult your baby’s doctor immediately.