photo by Tim Bish

It’s a new year, a new beginning and many wonderful new lives to be welcomed into this world. If you happen to be anticipating a new member of your family, here are a few things that are useful to know about your newborn baby.

Don’t be alarmed if your baby is a bit funny-looking.

After spending 40 weeks inside the warmth and comfort of a mother’s womb, the battle into the real world can leave your newborn looking a bit funny. During birth, pressure through the birth canal can leave a newborn’s eyes puffy and his or her face looking smooshed. The legs may also be bent due to the tight space in the uterus, you can expect them to straighten as your baby grows.

Don’t be afraid to touch the soft spots on your baby’s head.

There are two soft spots on the top of your baby’s head where the skull bones haven’t yet fused together. These are called fontanels, they are there to help the baby’s head pass through the birth canal, and accommodate the rapid growth of the baby’s brain. You may feel these spots pulsating when your baby cries. Don’t be alarmed about that. It is safe to touch these areas. They will disappear as the bones grow together by 18 months.

Newborn babies may have dry skin

A newborn baby’s skin will flake off shortly after birth. In the first few weeks, it’s normal for the baby to have peeling dry skin. Your newborn may also be covered by a layer of fine hair, named lanugo. This is more commonly seen in premature babies, and will wear off within a few weeks. In addition, you may notice tiny bumps on your baby’s face that look like pimples, they are harmless, known as milia, and they will also disappear in a few weeks.

The umbilical cord

The stump of a newborn’s umbilical cord is usually yellowish green at birth. Within two weeks it will dry out and fall off, and turn to brown to black. Keep the stump dry and expose it to air to help it heal. Don’t be scared if it bleeds a little. You should keep to sponge bath during this period of healing.

Newborn babies have short sleep cycles

Newborn babies sleep a lot, but they need to be fed every two to three hours so that means not enough sleep for you either. It’s good to know that by 3 months most babies can sleep in six to eight-hour long stretches, but as the case is different for each baby, the best practice will be to set a day and night schedule for your newborn. Allow your baby to sleep as much as possible during the night, and make sure to wake the baby more frequently during the day for feeding. 

Read More

Mayo Clinic, “What a newborn really look like”, available at http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/multimedia/newborn/sls-20076309?s=3, accessed on Jan 3 2017.

Parents, “10 Things to know about newborns”. available at http://www.parents.com/baby/care/newborn/10-things-to-know-about-newborns/?slideId=35607, accessed on Jan 3 2017