12 Terrifying (But Totally Normal) Things About Your Newborn Baby

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Don’t get me wrong: every baby is miraculous, beautiful, and perfect.

But there are a few small things that, um, may raise eyebrows. If you are an expecting mom, go ahead and make a mental note of the things listed below (the internet can be a scary, scary place!), and if you are a new mom, you can now take a deep breath: your baby is completely fine! Because most newborns…

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Why, you ask? If you’re breastfeeding, it may be because your milk hasn’t come in yet and your baby is not drinking a whole lot. Give it a few days but keep an eye on it. Liam went 3-4 days without peeing (or very little) and the minute we left our first pediatrician visit, he peed like 4 or 5 times! Don’t stress it. (Explosive poops? Yup. also normal.)

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These bumps are called “milia”. They’re harmless and very common — about 40 to 50 percent of newborns get them (usually on the upper cheeks, nose, or chin.) Liam had one under both eyes and I was so concerned about them. Silly, really, because they went away on their own within the first three months.

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This may seem concerning at first and you may wonder why your perfect little baby has a yellowy, flaky scalp. This may go away on its own, but there are many ways to get rid of it quickly. We used both of these products by Mustela and within a week it was gone: Stelaker and Foam Shampoo.

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In newborn babies, a degree of jaundice is normal. It most commonly occurs because their livers are not mature enough to remove bilirubin from the blood, but it may also be caused by a number of other medical conditions. If it persists past the first few days, it may be because you are breastfeeding (called Breast Milk Jaundice.) Liam had slightly yellow eyes for the first couple of weeks — our pediatrician said jaundice is only a concern if the white of the eyes are “banana-yellow”, which wasn’t our case.

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It’s normal for babies’ eyes to be crossed in the early months of life and straighten out by the end of the first year.

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Following a vaginal birth, a baby’s head is fairly elongated and cone-shaped. This usually changes within 48 hours. 

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This can be terrifying to a new mom: Why does my perfect little baby have a hairy back?! It’s actually totally normal. Lanugo is fine hair that grows all over your baby’s body in the final stage of pregnancy. Most babies lose all of their lanugo by the time they are only a few weeks old, but some can take longer.

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Stork bites (scientific name: nevus simplex) are a common type of birthmark found in newborns and are often temporary. Strawberry hemangiomas are small, closely packed blood vessels. They may be absent at birth, and develop at several weeks. They grow rapidly, remain a fixed size, and then subside by the time a child is 5-10 years old.Some pediatricians may recommend treatment for hemangiomas located under the eyes or around the nose simply because they may interfere with vision. Liam was actually born with two small ones on his side and a very small one under his bottom lip.

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This is how they clear their nasal and respiratory passages of congestion and airborne particles.

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A baby’s nasal passages are narrow in the newborn stage, leading the mucus that gets trapped in there to create some added sound effects. Your baby may also be gassy and make “pushing” noises. All babies have immature digestive systems, but some of them suffer more from gas than others. Gerber colic drops helped a lot with Liam.

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Babies are born with extra fluid in their bodies. The extra dose of maternal hormones that babies get just before birth may also contribute to swelling of their genitals. Baby boys may also have extra fluid in a sac around one or both testicles. This is called a hydrocele and usually goes away by the end of the first year, if not in the first few months of life.

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 Babies have an immature nervous system and their movements are even more uncoordinated during sleep than when they’re awake! You may notice that these seizure-like spasms usually happen as your baby drifts off to sleep.


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Johanna Riehm teaches in the department of Communication and Media at Manhattanville College and in the department of English at Mercy College. She teaches courses in the history of communication, public speaking, and social media, as well as creative and technical writing workshops. Johanna’s work has been featured in Graffiti Literary Magazine, The Write Place at the Write Time, The Bangalore Review, Cactus Heart Press, and the LaMothe Review. She is working on her first longer work, a creative nonfiction novel called We Carved Our Names in Tamarind Trees.

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