“10 Surprisingly Weird Side Effects of Being a Newborn” originally appeared on POPSUGAR Moms and was reprinted with permission.
Most moms-to-be fill their heads with visions of delivering a perfect little bundle of joy with rosy cheeks, flawless skin, and sweet wisps of hair. The reality of what a newborn looks like, however, can be quite different. It’s rare that a baby arrives with the exact appearance you’d expected, and the physical “side effects” of being born can be nothing short of alarming.
Before you welcome your babe into the world, be prepared for any one (or likely more) of these surprising attributes that your quirky little cutie is likely to be showing.
1. Crossed eyes
During the first six weeks of life, many babies cross their eyes, but it shouldn’t be a cause for alarm. If you’re still noticing the trait after six weeks, the Children’s Medical Center of Dallas recommends asking your pediatrician about it.
2. Noisy sleepers
Throw the phrase “sleep like a baby” out the window, because it’s most likely not going to be what you expect! Because of a newborn’s immature breathing-control center of the brain, normal sleep sounds can include rattling, whistling, and gurgling noises.
3. The Moro reflex
Surprised by all the limb flailing that’s happening in your new baby’s bassinet? Fear not, it’s totally normal. The Moro — or startle — reflex is part of an infant’s development that will last for the first three or four months. If your baby is frequently startling himself awake, try a tight swaddle.
4. Stork bites or angel kisses
Many babies arrive with pink or reddish patches at the nape of the neck, between the eyes, or on the eyelids. “Stork bites” or “angel kisses,” as they’re often called, are caused by capillary blood vessels close to the skin. They usually fade on their own and don’t require any sort of treatment.
5. A “fur coat”
A fine, downy hair called lanugo covers all babies’ bodies while they’re in the womb. While full-term babies generally shed the “coat” before birth, it’s not unusual for soft patches of hair to remain on the backs, shoulders, cheeks, or foreheads. It will go away on its own, but if you’re concerned, always check with your pediatrician.
6. Cradle cap
Scaly patches on a baby’s scalp are often referred to as “cradle cap.” The condition is more likely to bother you than your baby, and it usually resolves itself on its own within a few months. Gently scrubbing the scalp with a toothbrush, or washing with a mild shampoo, can help to loosen the scales.
7. Epstein pearls
These whitish/yellow cysts are found on the gums and roof of the mouth on some 80 percent of newborns. They disappear on their own within one to two weeks of birth.
8. Baby boobs
If you think your newborn (male or female) appears to have little breasts, you’re not going crazy. Babies are exposed to the same hormones that stimulate a mother’s milk glands while in the womb, and sometimes they have the same effect on the fetus. In some cases, breast milk can even be expressed from a newborn. Within a few weeks or months, the breast tissue will shrink on its own.
9. Crocodile tears
Blocked tear ducts occur in six out of every 100 newborns, according to WebMD. When the duct that normally allows tears to drain from the eyes becomes obstructed, excessive tearing occurs. Yellow mucus is also likely to appear in the corner of the eye. A clogged tear duct in a newborn usually resolves itself by a year and doesn’t require treatment other than keeping the area clean and free of infection.
The journey out of the birth canal is no easy feat, and sometimes new babies show a bit of wear and tear. Since a newborn’s head is still so soft and malleable, the process of childbirth is likely to cause it to emerge a bit deformed. Chances are, your baby’s head shape will return to normal on its own, but if you’re concerned, consult your pediatrician.
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