From cradle cap to periodic breathing, many new parents tend to worry about their baby’s well-being. Learn about completely normal newborn occurrences that will have you breathing a sigh of relief knowing it’s all to be expected.
WORDS ANNA FERNANDEZ
You've made it through your pregnancy and the gruelling birth, and you thought you knew all there was to know about your little one, but you’re quickly realising how easily they can surprise you. They sneeze when they’re not sick, hiccup non-stop, breathe unevenly and do a pretty good impression of Darth Vader asleep. Here are some typical newborn quirks that are usually nothing to worry about – so don’t!
1. Cradle Cap
If your baby's scalp and hair flake off, it's probably cradle cap. It usually appears in the first few months and clears up by the time they’re one. Even though it's quite a gross scene, it’s very normal and doesn’t bother your baby.
Some experts believe that the extra hormones a baby receives
from the mother towards the end of the pregnancy overstimulate
their oil-producing (seborrheic) glands, causing cradle cap. All you need
to do is comb your baby's hair with a soft brush, or gently massage
your baby's scalp to lift up some of the scales.
Your newborn’s sneezing is usually the cause of excess amniotic fluid and mucus in your baby’s respiratory system and not an impending illness. And since she's too young to blow her nose, the only way she can expel irritants is to sneeze. So you shouldn’t worry, unless the sneezing is accompanied by a fever or if she’s having difficulty eating.
3. Watery Eyes
If you notice your baby tearing from one or both eyes, it’s probably a clogged tear duct. A yellowish mucus may also accumulate at the corners of her eyes. You can simply wipe it away with a wet sterile cotton ball.
Also, don’t panic if your newborn hasn’t cried actual tears yet.
Tear production doesn’t usually happen until the third week.
The main reason why babies hiccup is because they’re constantly swallowing air. Hiccups are seldom harmful but can sometimes be unsettling for an infant. Overfeeding is a common cause of hiccups so you might want to try slowing down feedings; if you’re breastfeeding, stop and burp your baby as you switch from one breast to the other. You should also ensure her lips form a tight seal around your areola, not just the nipple, and keep her at a 30- to a 45-degree angle as she feeds.
5. Squishy Head
The soft spots on your baby’s head are known as fontanelles, and they’re responsible for making it easier for them to pass through the birth canal. The posterior fontanelle closes around eight weeks after birth while the anterior fontanelle doesn’t fully close until your baby is between a year and 18 months old. Although an open anterior fontanelle after 18 months is still within the range of normal, it’s nevertheless advisable for your paediatrician to ensure it is closing normally.