From Soft Spot to Curled Toes
The bones of baby's skull are not yet fused together, and unless you have had a cesarean delivery your baby's head may look a bit, well, pointy. This cone-headed appearance is the result of pressure in the birth canal and will round out within a few days after birth. There are four small areas on your baby's head where the skull bones have not yet joined; these are called
Baby's soft spot is called a fontanelle. She has a total of four, but only the anterior and posterior are easily located.
A normal fontanelle is slightly curved in and soft yet firm to the touch. A deeply sunken soft spot can indicate dehydration, and a fontanelle that bulges could be a sign of increased pressure in the brain from fluid buildup or hemorrhage. Both warrant an immediate call to your pediatrician. Keep in mind that crying can make the fontanelle appear swollen.
The eye color your baby has at birth may change later in infancy or childhood. This is due to the ongoing production of the hormone melanin.
Your newborn's soft-as-butter skin may have some imperfections at first. Post-term babies are more likely to have some peeling, while preterm babies can still be sporting a substantial amount of lanugo and vernix. Although the vernix is fairly well rubbed off by the time you bring baby home, you may continue to find it in his creases and crevices until his first real bath. The lanugo will rub itself off over the next few weeks.
Baby may also be wearing one or more birthmarks on his birthday suit. Red marks on the eyelids, forehead, and at the very back of the nape of the neck usually fade and disappear over time and are called
Dark blue to blue-green spots on the buttocks or lower back are known as Mongolian spots. They are most common in African American, Native American, and Asian newborns and fade over time. If your baby is born with what is known as a
Little whiteheads called
Your baby, boy or girl, may have swollen breasts that actually leak milk. This milk, known in folk medicine as “witch's milk,” is the product of your pregnancy hormones at work on your newborn. Avoid massaging the area since this can trigger an abscess. The breasts will return to normal size within a few days.
The Umbilical Cord
Baby's umbilical cord stump looks just like it sounds — a dark, dried-up protrusion. Since it is basically dead tissue, it is black in color. You'll be instructed to clean it regularly, usually with alcohol swabs, and keep it dry to prevent breakage and bleeding. Keep an eye out for signs of infection, such as pus or inflammation. Within two weeks or so the stump will fall off, and your baby's perfect little bellybutton will be revealed.
Before your partner congratulates himself too heartily on his well-endowed son, you might want to break the news that this is probably just a passing phenomenon. Newborn boys and girls are often born with swollen genitals, again due to the effects of your pregnancy hormones working on them. Girls can even have a bit of mucus discharge, possibly blood-tinged, from their vaginas.
Fingernails and Toenails
Baby's tiny curled fingers and toes usually emerge in need of a manicure. Growing for several months in the womb, they are typically long and ragged. The thought of trimming such tiny appendages might fill you with dread, but it's not as hard as you think. Just make sure you have the right tools (infant-sized clippers) and try to trim while baby is sleeping (if you'd like to avoid wrestling with a moving target). If you still can't seem to cut the nails, bring your clippers with you at your two-week pediatrician appointment and ask for pointers.