Basics About Your Newborn Baby’s Body
For the past 9 months, you’ve been getting ready for your baby’s arrival. But now
that you’re bringing home your bundle of joy, you may feel a little anxious. How will
you ever remember everything you learned about what to expect in those first few weeks?
Even the best-prepared parents may be surprised by a few things that are quite normal
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 often disappears by age 5 or
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.
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.
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.
Milia. These tiny white bumps can appear on your baby's face. They will go away in a few
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
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
Reducing the risk for SIDS and sleep-related deaths
Follow these tips to reduce the risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and sleep-related
deaths from birth to age 1:
Get prenatal care. Routine prenatal care is important for reducing the risk for SIDS.
Breastfeed your baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breastmilk
only for at least 6 months. And the group recommends that you keep breastfeeding for
a year or longer if you can.
Make sure your baby is immunized. A baby who is fully immunized is at lower risk for
Babies should be placed on their back for sleep or naps. Babies should put down for
all sleep on their back until age 1. This can reduce the risk for SIDS, aspiration,
and choking. Babies should not be placed on their side or belly for sleep or naps.
Babies should be given supervised time on their bellies to help develop strong belly
and neck muscles. This will also help minimize flattening of the head that can happen
when babies spend so much time on their backs.
Babies diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux (GERD or heartburn) may need the head
of their crib raised. Always talk with your baby's healthcare provider before doing
Offer babies a pacifier for sleeping or naps, if they aren’t breastfed. If breastfeeding,
delay introducing pacifier until breastfeeding has been firmly established.
Use a firm mattress covered by a tightly fitted sheet to prevent gaps between the
mattress and the sides of a crib, a play yard, or a bassinet. This can reduce the
risk for entrapment, suffocation, and SIDS.
Share your room instead of your bed with your baby. Putting your baby in bed with
you raises the risk for strangulation, suffocation, entrapment, and SIDS. Bed sharing
is not recommended for twins or other higher multiples. Babies should sleep in the
same room as their parents, close to their parent's bed, but in a separate bed or
crib appropriate for infants. This sleeping arrangement is recommended ideally for
the baby's first year, but should at least be maintained for the first 6 months.
Don't use infant seats, car seats, strollers, carriers, and swings for routine sleep
and daily naps. These may lead to blocking of an infant’s airway or suffocation.
Don't place infants on a couch or armchair for sleep. Sleeping on a couch or armchair
puts the infant at much higher risk of death, including SIDS.
Don’t use illegal drugs, drink alcohol, or smoke during pregnancy or after birth.
Keep your baby away from others who are smoking and areas where others smoke.
Don't overdress or cover babies face or head. This will prevent them from getting
overheated, reducing the risks for SIDS.
Don't use loose blankets or soft objects. Don't use bumper pads, pillows, comforters, or blankets in
baby’s crib or bassinet. This helps prevent suffocation, strangulation, entrapment,
Don't use cardiorespiratory monitors and commercial devices. Don't use wedges, positioners,
or special mattresses to help decrease the risk for SIDS and sleep-related infant
deaths. These devices have not been shown to prevent SIDS. In rare cases, they have
led to the death of an infant.
Always place cribs, bassinets, and play yards in hazard-free areas. To reduce the
risk for strangulation, be sure there are no dangling cords, wires, or window coverings.