Facebook page celebrates vernix - AKA baby’s 'birthday frosting'

Some babies are born with a protective covering of vernix.
Some babies are born with a protective covering of vernix. Photo: Getty Images

Was your baby covered in vernix at birth? Facebook page Birth Without Fear is celebrating vernix – or what they call 'birthday frosting' – by sharing a photo of a baby covered in a thick layer of vernix.

The image is accompanied by a caption that reads:

"Birthday frosting! Before you go 'eew!' consider this: your baby may have been born with vernix as a protective layer from the ammonia in amniotic fluid – new research has shown that the smell of vernix can even trigger the 'love' hormone in the parent of a newborn."

Vernix is the white waxy substance many babies have on their skin at birth – their bodies produce it to protect their skin from the amniotic fluid while they are in the uterus. In most cases the skin starts to absorb the vernix in preparation for birth, but sometimes there is still a layer left on the baby when it is born.

Some commenters remained unconvinced of the beauty of the vernix, with one exclaiming that the baby looked like a chicken covered in goose fat. And some mums boasted of their babies' "squeaky clean" skin at birth.

Others could relate to the thick layer of vernix.

"I was 'ew' at first but when our bubbah girl was born, I didn't care," said one mum. "She was beautiful and sooooo cute! We didn't care if we touch it kissed it or had it on our clothes."

"Yes, lots of it too," exclaimed another. "I loved it, like it was looking after my baby before I met him. So cute."

Another, aware of vernix's moisturising properties, told her husband to put some on a severe dry patch of skin on his face. "It's never returned yet," she wrote.

But vernix isn't just useful for cosmetic purposes. A 2004 study found the properties in vernix are similar to those in breast milk, and can protect babies against infections. It stated:

"[Vernix] contains antimicrobial proteins that are active against group B streptococcus and E. coli. Delaying the bath and keeping the newborn together with his or her mother until breastfeeding is established may prevent some cases of devastating infections caused by these bacteria."