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Your Newborn’s Appearance


Full-term babies usually weigh between 5 and 10 pounds at birth and are between 18 and 22 inches long.

Head shape

During labor and delivery, the baby’s head may become long and cone-shaped to fit through the birth canal. This is called “molding.” Molding is normal, and your baby’s head should become round in a few days. You may notice a small scab on the baby’s head from an internal monitor. This heals in a few days.


Infants usually have grayish-blue or grayish-brown eyes at birth. An infant’s true eye color may evolve over several months. Tear ducts are small at birth. Tears are usually not produced in noticeable amounts with crying until the baby is one to two months of age. The eyelids may be swollen from pressure during delivery. A normal newborn’s eyes may cross once in a while during the first few weeks of life.

Soft spots

Your baby has soft spots (fontanels) on the front and back of the head formed by the gap between the bones of the skull. Both fontanels are covered by a tough membrane and can’t be damaged by shampooing, brushing or gently touching your baby’s head. It is normal to see it moving up and down as your baby feeds or cries. It should not look sunken or bulging at other times.

Skin coating

Your baby may have a grayish-white, cheese-like coating – called “vernix” – on his or her skin at birth. Vernix protects the skin before birth and is most apparent in baby’s skin folds. Vernix may not all wash off with the first bath, but will be reabsorbed through the skin. It is not necessary to remove it.

Skin peeling

Most babies’ skin peels after birth because they have been in fluid for many months. This generalized peeling is completely normal and requires no treatment. Oils or lotions are not necessary and may irritate or clog baby’s skin.

Hands and feet

It’s common for the baby’s hands and feet to be a blue-gray color in the first few days of life because the baby’s circulatory system is not yet efficient at getting blood to these distant parts. It is most noticeable when baby is cold. This is normal and requires no treatment or special care.


Some babies develop a blotchy, red rash within 24 to 48 hours after birth. This is harmless and disappears without treatment in a few days. If any rash is weeping (has drainage), bring it to the attention of your pediatrician. Please ask the nurses or your pediatrician about any rash your infant has.

Pink patches

Some babies have patches of pink on the nose, eyelids and neck, commonly called “stork bites.” Usually they fade slowly and disappear by two years of age.

White spots on face

White pimple-like spots, called “milia,” on your baby’s nose, chin and cheeks are due to clogged oil glands. These are normal and will disappear in one to two weeks.

Mongolian spots

Dark bluish-gray patches on the back and buttocks are called “Mongolian spots,” and fade gradually during the first or second year of life.

Body hair

You may notice that your baby is quite hairy on the shoulders, ears and back. This will gradually fall off.

Swollen breasts on baby

The breasts of both boys and girls may be swollen for the first three to five days after birth. This is common in newborns due to the passing of the mother’s hormones before birth. If redness or tenderness accompanies, please bring this to the attention of your pediatrician or nurse.

Genital swelling

It is common to see swelling of genitals in newborns after birth. There may also be a small amount of blood and white mucous discharge from the vagina. This is due to hormones the mother passed the baby before birth.


During pregnancy, your baby needs more red blood cells to carry oxygen than he or she needs after birth. The red blood cells that are no longer needed break down. A substance released by this process is call bilirubin.

Bilirubin sometimes builds up in the baby’s blood and causes the skin to appear yellow or tan, and the whites of the eyes to be yellow. Jaundice is the name for yellow color. Jaundice is very treatable and rarely serious.

Most jaundice caused by this normal adjustment following birth requires no treatment. It is called “physiological jaundice.” This jaundice reaches its peak in three to five days after birth and then begins to disappear. Babies excrete bilirubin naturally in their stool. Your pediatrician may suggest feeding your baby more frequently. There is no need to place your baby near a sunny window. Even short exposure to sunlight can cause injury and burn baby’s skin.

Certain infants are at increased risk for jaundice. These include infants whose blood type is different than their mother’s, premature babies, and infants who become sick with infections shortly after birth.

If the bilirubin level is too high (measured by a blood test), a special light treatment called phototherapy may be needed to help your baby’s body get rid of the bilirubin.