Your baby is almost here and you’re most likely wondering if she will look like you or your partner but do you really know what to expect when it comes to a newborn’s appearance?
WORDS ANGEL DREWGUS
If you’re just days away from welcoming your newborn, you might be imagining a pink, chubby-cheeked bub but that is often far from the truth.
Why do Newborns Look Funny?
They don’t! However, some people may find that newborns have funny shaped heads at birth. This is due to the pressure on the head while the baby is being squeezed out of the birth canal and is termed molding. This usually resolves in a few days, explains Dr Christelle Tan, registrar, Department of Neonatal & Developmental Medicine, SGH.
A newborn’s skin colour may carry a tinge of yellow in the first few days of life due to jaundice which is a common occurrence. As long as the jaundice is monitored and within safe levels, it usually goes away after a week.
Some babies have bluish-green patches over their buttocks or legs.
These are called Mongolian spots. They are normal and will disappear with time.
Finally, in the first few days of life, some babies may have rashes called erythema toxicum. They look like red blotches. Some parents may get alarmed by it but there is nothing to worry about, advises Dr Tan, as they will go away in a few days.
What’s My Baby’s Height and Weight?
Your baby’s height, weight and head size are often charted during regular check-ups. The centile chart used is obtained from local data on the variation in sizes of healthy babies. In general, anywhere between the tenth centile and ninetieth centile is considered to be normal. Of course, there are healthy babies who lie outside of these ranges and often all that is required is more frequent monitoring.
Babies within the normal range of length and weight are less likely to have any major clinical problems. A drop in the centiles can be an early indicator of underlying medical conditions which may require further evaluation. This is why monitoring the growth of your child is very important, explains Dr Tan.
Dry Skin – is that Normal?
Most newborns have sensitive skin and hence it may appear dry. Some babies born later than their expected due date can look like they have dry and scaly skin. This is normal.
While you should bathe your baby once or twice a day, if you find
that your child has dry skin, avoid frequent baths and avoid
using hot water but just use warm water.
Ensure the cleanser you use is mild, fragrance free and soap free, making it suitable for sensitive skin. If you still find your baby’s skin to be dry, apply baby oil or lotion after her bath or up to two to three times a day, says Dr Tan.
Your Newborn’s Umbilical Stump
As uncomfortable as it may look, it isn’t. Routine care of the umbilical stump is all that is required. Cleaning the stump and the surrounding skin daily with warm water and drying it with a clean towel thereafter is usually all that is required. Try to avoid alcohol or any topical agent that can cause the skin to be very dry.
No additional care is needed unless there are other signs of infection like redness or swelling around the umbilical stump. If you notice the skin around the stump turning red, or if there is discharge coming from the umbilical stump, do seek medical advice.
In general, most infants would have their umbilical stump fall off by the second week of life.