Slide show: What a newborn really looks like
Your newborn's eyes
Wonder what your newborn will look like? Here's a peek at some real newborns so that you'll know what to expect.
During childbirth, pressure on the face might leave your newborn's eyelids temporarily puffy or swollen. His or her legs and feet might look bowed or bent — thanks to the cramped quarters of the uterus. Expect the curves to straighten on their own as your baby grows and becomes mobile.
Your newborn's head
During childbirth, pressure from the tight birth canal might cause your baby's skull bones to shift and overlap. This can result in an elongated or cone-shaped skull at birth — particularly if you had a long labor or a vacuum was used during delivery. You can expect your newborn to have a more rounded head within a few days. Babies born buttocks or feet first or by C-section are more likely to have round heads at birth.
Your newborn's umbilical cord
The stump of a newborn's umbilical cord is usually yellowish green at birth. As the stump dries out and eventually falls off — usually within two weeks after birth — it'll change to brown to black. In the meantime, keep the stump clean and dry. Expose the stump to air to help dry out the base, and stick to sponge baths while the area is healing. There's no need to swab the stump with rubbing alcohol.
Your newborn's skin
You might notice white bumps on your newborn's face that look like tiny pimples. These harmless spots, known as milia, typically disappear on their own within a few weeks.
The top layer of a newborn's skin flakes off shortly after birth. You might notice dry, peeling skin for the first few weeks. Your newborn's skin might also be covered by fine, downy hair at birth — known as lanugo — especially on the back and shoulders. Lanugo is most common in premature babies. It typically wears off within several weeks.
Your newborn's breasts and genitals
Before birth, the mother's hormones pass through the baby's system. This can lead to swollen breasts at birth — for both boys and girls. Swelling can last up to several weeks.
Newborn girls might have a harmless vaginal discharge for several days as well.
Some newborn boys develop a fluid-filled sac surrounding a testicle that results in swelling of the scrotum, the loose, skin-covered bag underneath the penis. This condition, known as a hydrocele, usually disappears on its own within a year.
You might notice reddish or pink patches at the back of your newborn's neck, on the eyelids, forehead or between your newborn's eyes. These marks — sometimes nicknamed stork bites or angel kisses — tend to get brighter during crying. Some marks disappear in a few months, while others fade over a few years or persist. Marks at the back of the neck usually last longer than marks on the face.
Darker skinned babies are sometimes born with a flat, bluish-green mark on the buttocks or lower back. This type of mark typically fades during early childhood.
You'll notice two soft areas at the top of your baby's head where the skull bones haven't yet grown together. These spots, called fontanels, accommodate a baby's rapidly growing brain. You might notice these spots pulsating when your baby cries or strains.
Soft spots are covered by a thick fibrous layer. They're safe to touch and typically close within two years, when the skull bones fuse together.
Last Updated Mar 24, 2020