Ten Fingers and Ten Toes

Newborn holding daddy's fingerWhen you first see your baby don’t be surprised if she is somewhat messy looking—she will likely be bloody, wet and slippery. She may not have that peaceful angelic look you see in magazines, but she is screaming her head off. You may not get to check her over right away, but once most parents get their newborn alone, they carefully look over their newborn to satisfy themselves that everything is normal. Listed below are some things you might find which may concern you. However, these findings are normal and most go away over the next few weeks or months.

If forceps were used to deliver your baby, she may have marks on her cheek and jaws made by the pressure of the forceps. The marks should disappear within a day or two. You may also be able to feel hard little lumps under the skin along the cheekbones where the marks are. These lumps will also disappear but may take longer to go away than the marks on the skin.

Your baby’s head and eyes

•  His head will be large compared to the rest of his body; it may be elongated, called molding, due to the pressures of birth.
•  He may have an egg-shaped swelling on the crown of his head; it usually goes away in a few weeks.
•  There are soft spots, called fontanelles, on the front and back of his head. The soft spot in the front is about the size of a quarter, the one in back is about the size of a dime. These soft spots are formed by the gap between the bones of his skull. These gaps allow your baby’s head to change shape so it can come through the birth canal. It’s safe to touch these soft spots. The gap in the back closes up in about 6 weeks, the one in front by 9-18 months.
•  His eyelids may be puffy or swollen.
• Looking cross-eyed is normal and usually outgrown in a few months.
•  Pressure during birth may flatten his nose a little, or push it to one side.
• If your baby was born with forceps or suction you may see scrapes or bruises that should go away in a few weeks.
• Your baby may have a head full of hair, be bald or about anything in between. The hair color your baby is born with isn’t necessarily the color she will have 6 months after birth.

Your baby’s skin

• Most babies—especially babies born early—are covered with vernix, a whitish coating. It’s most noticeable in skin folds like behind the ears, in the groin area and under the arms. Most of this comes off with your baby’s first bath.
•  Pinpoint-size yellow or white bumps, called milia, may appear on his nose and chin where secretions have plugged skin glands; do not squeeze these bumps as they can become infected.
•  There may be soft, silky hair on his back and shoulders.
•  Flat pink markings, called “stork bites,” are common and are often found on the eyelids, bridge of the nose, and upper lip; these usually fade over time.
•  Peeling skin is common for the first few weeks, especially in babies born after their due date.
•  He may have a red rash, that looks like tiny “bug bites” for a week or two.
• Your baby’s body may also be covered with fine hair that disappears in the weeks right after birth.

Your baby’s body

•  The breasts may be swollen and the nipples may have a discharge.
•  The umbilical cord has been clamped, leaving a “stump.”
•  Newborn girls often have a white or blood-tinged vaginal discharge.
•  Newborn boys may have a fluid sac, called a hydrocele, around one or both testicles, which may not go away for several months.
•  His hands and feet may look blue, called acrocyanosis. This is due to his underdeveloped circulatory system.
•  His feet may be turned in or out due to your baby’s position in the uterus; this usually corrects itself over time.
•  Bowing of the legs is present in all babies.

After you examine your newborn, if you have any concerns about your baby, talk with your doctor or one of the nurses.

Caring For Your Newborn Booklet

Caring For Your Newborn

Table of Contents
Caring Begins at Birth
Your Newborn’s Hospital Check-up
Ten Fingers and Ten Toes
Special Care for Your Newborn
When Your Newborn Cries
Changing Your Newborn’s Diaper
Feeding Your Newborn – breast or bottle feeding
Feeding Your Newborn – spit ups, weight gain, BMs
Bathing Your Newborn
Dressing Your Newborn
Shhh!! We’re Sleeping
Keeping Your Baby Safe
Your Newborn’s Admirers
Taking Your Newborn Out
If Your Newborn Gets a Cold
If You Have Questions
Well-baby Check-ups
When to Call Your Pediatrician
Take Care of Yourself, Too