If you were to ask my husband on the day my daughter was born, he would have told you that she wasn't the adorable baby I saw. To him, she was an eight-pound bundle of medical emergencies. From the look of her, he swore she had two different forms of skin cancer, and if we ever gazed at her for too long, he'd find something devastating to point out: "Why are her legs curved like that?" "Her eyes — they're crossed again!"
Thankfully, all of those horrific things he discovered about our baby turned out to be, well, normal baby stuff . . . as weird as some of it is.
To calm your nerves, here are most of the strange but perfectly safe physical attributes of your newborn baby.
1. Bowed legs
Imagine you were squished in someone's uterus for nine months — you might look a little bow-legged too. Curved legs are entirely normal for most babies, and they'll straighten over time, particularly once they've been walking for a good nine months.
2. Little white bumps
It's not quite baby acne, but it's noticeable to any parent who goes in for a kiss of those adorable baby cheeks. Those tiny white or yellow pearly bumps are called milia, and they are most often found on the nose, chin, and cheeks. There's nothing you need to do if you spot it — it'll go away on its own in just a few weeks.
That's right: the same thing that you got in your teens also afflicts newborns. It can be present at birth, but if it's not, don't be surprised if red pimples surrounded by reddish skin pop up after a couple of weeks. There's little you should do, but certainly make sure that your baby isn't sweaty, and clean spit-up or drool when you see it. Just wash — don't scrub — your baby's face at bathtime with a mild soap, and steer clear of oily lotions or acne medications.
4. Body hair
Whether your baby's got a full head of hair or is completely bald, there's a good chance she (yes, it's possible in both boys and girls!) has some body hair. It can be found on the shoulders, down the arms, along the back, and even cropping up on the ears. Affectionately known as peach fuzz, the medical term for it is lanugo, and it's there to regulate the baby's body temperature in the womb. Whatever you do, don't break out a razor: it'll shed soon enough.
5. Cuts and scrapes
You've barely had this baby five minutes, and already there's cuts, scrapes, and scratches all over her precious little face. Babies' nails can grow pretty long in the womb, and because they haven't quite gotten control of those arms, hands, and fingers, they likely involuntarily nicked themselves before even making their debut. Just grab the baby nail clippers and give your newborn her very first manicure.
6. Incessant sneezing
Enough already! If you find yourself saying "bless you!" several times an hour, just let it slide . . . at least for the first few months. Babies do this so often because they still have some amniotic fluid to work out and because they aren't used to the minuscule particles in our air that enter their nasal passages now that they're out of the womb.
Wow, that baby aged fast! Kidding. Smaller and premature babies often show more wrinkly skin than full-term babies, but most all infants show some slight wrinkles in their hands and feet, and that's expected. Just allow your baby to grow into her skin – it won't be long!
8. Baby boobs
If you get the sense your baby has a solid A or B cup, don't worry. The pregnancy hormones your baby is exposed to actually trigger the development of breast tissue, but once those hormones wear off, so will the puffiness of their chest.
9. Swollen genitals
Speaking of puffiness, it's not just a baby's breasts that might look a bit engorged due to hormone exposure. The genitalia of both boys and girls will likely look swollen, so don't freak out if things seem a bit disproportionate down there.
10. Cone-shaped heads
Following a normal vaginal birth, the baby's head is elongated and looks like, well, a member of the Coneheads. Fear not: it's just what happens in order to fit through the birth canal, and the shape will change quickly, sometimes in two days or less.
Cradle cap seems like a sweet term for a newborn hat, but it's really to do with the dry, flaky scalp often seen in infants. At its worst, it appears as crusting white or yellow scales on a baby's head, but it is all harmless and clears up within the first six months. You don't need to do anything, but if it's bothersome, you can try gentle shampoo massages more frequently.
12. Crossed eyes
Stay calm if your baby looks cross-eyed. A newborn's eyes don't always move in perfect unison, either. That off-kilter gaze is simply due to the fact that, like the rest of them, they are uncoordinated and need practice flexing those muscles.
13. Red splotches
Often seen on the forehead and around the scalp, these red splotches on the skin might seem alarming, but they're not. In fact, they're called "stork bites" and are oftentimes temporary birth marks. For some, they are dark red or purplish, and for others, they only show themselves when the baby's flush from crying. Likely, they'll go away within the first year.
14. Strange breathing
Especially when they're sleeping, you might notice that your baby makes strange noises and that the speed of breaths goes from fast, quick bursts to barely noticeable ones. You might feel the urge to jostle your baby to wake up to make sure he's still alive, but try to rest easy. This is known as the periodic breathing of infancy, and it takes time for your newborn to learn to regulate his breathing pattern.