Weird little buggers, aren’t they?
Be, um, more well-endowed than you expected
Babies in the womb get a good old dose of whichever pregnancy hormones were causing you to sweat in odd places, or have recurring intimate dreams about that elderly neighbour who wears Crocs whatever the weather’s doing. And, in babies it can cause swollen genitals, the appearance of breast-like bumps in the nipple area, and even mini-periods in newborn girls (rest assured these are normally very mini, producing only a tiny bit of blood in the nappy). All of this should fade within 48 hours of birth as your hormones pass out of their bodies.
Look a bit like an alien
By this we specifically mean the aliens in the classic 1993 comedy, Coneheads. Newborns often come out with oddly-shaped heads, but it’s nothing to worry about. Labour and birth generally isn’t a walk in the park for any of the parties concerned, and the soft bones in a baby’s head can become compressed when the baby’s spelunking through your birth tunnel and the narrow gap of your pelvis. Their heads should start to look rounder soon (although they may get flat spots from lying on their backs; you can prevent this by holding or wearing them more, and increasing their ‘tummy time’ sessions). And, if it doesn’t improve, your doctor can prescribe a specific helmet to reshape their heads.
Open their eyes and roll them around while sleeping
No one seems to prepare you for the odd things a newborn’s eyes will do. They may be crossed, or the whites of the eyes may appear red for the first few days. Or they may move their eyes around while sleeping – all of this is normal, and should straighten itself out as time goes on although obviously do call your GP if you are concerned.
Suddenly conduct a silent orchestra
If your baby is flailing their hands in the air like they just don’t care, don’t worry. Jerky movements of arms and legs in newborns is normal, and called a “moro reflex” – a baby’s startle reaction to a loud noise or surprise. Often it may happen without any reason at all, and while the baby is asleep. In fact, sleeping newborns often startle themselves awake with the movements – swaddling can help this, and the reflex itself should settle within three to four months.
Grunt like Serena Williams delivering a lethal volley
Newborn babies can be unexpectedly noisy – grunting and snuffling like a tiny badger in your arms; breathing very fast and noisily, and then scaring the life out of you with their silence. Again, this is all to be expected. Newborns’ nasal passages are very narrow and their nervous systems are still developing, so expect some noise in the early months. You can clear some nasal mucus with an aspirator and, if you’re worried they’re breathing too much, or too hard, check whether their nostrils are flaring with effort, or their ribs become very visible every time they breathe in. Call your GP if this is the case.
You may find, while examining your new baby’s miraculous eyes and nose and fingers and toes (while a cup of tea goes cold beside you) that… bits are falling off. Your baby is peeling all over their body as though they’ve spent the last week in Magaluf without a decent SPF. But don’t worry – babies shed their outer layer of skin in the first three weeks of life, and shouldn’t require any creams or treatment. Your baby may also have a touch of acne or cradle cap (a sort of greasy flakiness of the scalp) but again, these should go with time.
Ruin a brand-new outfit in seconds
Newborns tend to spit up and poo without warning, so…. Actually, scratch that – they’ll still be doing this in a year. Sorry!