8 Basics About Your Newborn Baby's Body

For the past 9 months, you’ve been getting ready for your baby’s arrival. And during that time the excitement has continued to build. But now that you’re bringing home your bundle of joy, you may feel a little anxious, too. How will you ever remember everything? What should you expect in those first few weeks? Even the most-prepared parents may be surprised by a few things that are completely normal in newborns.

These common spots and stains may be present at birth and are usually harmless. Many eventually disappear on their own: 

  • Stork bite (nevus flammeus.) This is seen on the forehead or on the back of the neck, or both. This mark almost always disappears as the child grows.
  • Mongolian spot (congenital dermal melanocytosis). This is a birthmark that may look like a bruise. It appears over the lower back and upper buttocks on darker pigmented babies. This spot frequently disappears by age 5 or 6.
  • Mole (congenital nevus). Moles don’t disappear and may grow larger over time.
  • Port wine stain. This is a red to purple mark that may appear anywhere on the body, but often on the face. This mark tends to grow larger over time.

It’s not uncommon to see a tiny bit of blood in your daughter’s diaper for the first couple of weeks. This tiny bit of vaginal bleeding happens when the baby adjusts to the lack of mother’s hormones once she’s out of the womb.

Mom’s hormones may cause baby’s breast tissue to grow slightly in both girls and boys. These lumps may last for a few months, but should then go away.  

Cord color

You’ve probably been told that your baby’s umbilical cord stump will fall off on its own. But, it will turn yellow and then brown or black first.

Odd movements

Newborns’ bodies are ruled by reflexes. So, your baby won’t be able to control most movements very well for the first few months. His or her chin, arms or legs may seem shaky, especially when crying. 

Other skin problems

Rashes and other skin conditions are common in newborns. Here's a look at several:

  • Acne. Newborn acne or pimples can break out on the baby's face, usually around 2 to 3 weeks old. The cause is unknown, but it seems to be associated with maternal hormones that pass from the placenta to the baby during pregnancy. The acne may worsen by 1 month old but generally goes away without treatment. It may be helpful to gently wash the baby's face once a day with a mild soap to keep milk residue off the skin.
  • Cradle cap. Cradle cap looks like scaly white or yellow patches on the scalp. These patches are usually gone in a few months. In severe cases, the rash can spread onto the body, causing greasy red bumps. Removing the flakes from the scalp with a soft brush during bath time can help prevent it from worsening. 
  • Erythema toxicum. This is a reddish-colored rash with small yellowish-white raised bumps in the center. It may be seen on the face, trunk, legs and arms. The rash may appear within the first couple of days after birth and last for about a week. It typically disappears without any treatment.
  • MiliaThese tiny white bumps can appear on your baby's face. They will go away in a few weeks.
Rapid breathing

Healthy newborns average 40 breaths a minute. Adults take 12 to 18 breaths a minute. An infant’s breathing may pause for up to 10 seconds. Then, the baby starts breathing again.
Soft spots

The 2 soft areas on your baby’s head are known as fontanelles. They will be there until the bones in the skull fuse together. When your child cries, they may bulge. The soft spots may pulse along with the baby’s heartbeat.
If you feel your child is ill or if something just doesn’t seem right, call your healthcare provider.

Expert care for the tiniest patients

The dedicated specialists of Mason Pediatrics are committed to providing comprehensive care for children of all ages. With more than 15 years of experience in providing primary care and well-child care, as well as extensive resources and the latest in treatment options, your child will receive customized care to fulfill their unique health needs. 


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