Have you ever felt silly after rushing your tiny tot to the doctor only to discover it was nothing to worry about? The truth is that newborns can be extraordinary and come with many “surprises.” If you're unprepared, these surprises could be alarming.
Here are 10 bizarre facts about newborns. Hang on to your hats, some of them might amaze you.
1. Newborns lose weight after birth
It can be stressful for new mums if their baby loses weight in the first few days. But don’t worry, this is perfectly normal. Most newborns lose about 5 to 10 per cent of their birth weight in the first few days of life. This is because they are born with excess fluid. The amount of weight loss depends on your baby's birth weight and her gestational age. Most bubs are back to their birth weight by the second week.
2. They can have enlarged breasts
Some newborns are born with larger-than-normal breasts, including baby boys. While in their mother's womb, babies are exposed to her hormones (oestrogen). This results in the large breasts seen in some babies. You want to know what else is unusual? They can also produce milk called witch’s milk. Don’t be too alarmed, this disappears after a short while.
3. Mini period for baby girls
Some female babies experience pseudo-menstruation. Yes, you heard right. Don't be alarmed if you see a reddish stain in their nappies. This is also due to exposure to extremely high levels of oestrogen while in the womb. After birth, the sudden withdrawal of this maternal hormone causes the bleeding.
4. Babies don’t produce tears
As much as newborns like to cry, in the early days they do this without producing tears. This is because their tear ducts can only produce enough tears to moisten the eyes. Not enough to roll down their rosy cheeks. They begin producing enough tears from one to three months of age.
5. Baby boy erections
Baby boys have erections too, right from inside the womb. You can catch this during an ultrasound scan session. Parents do not need to worry, it is nothing sexual. This often happens during a nappy change when cool air touches their skin. You may want to take cover or just enjoy a wonderful “pee shower.” It is completely normal and lets you know everything is functioning well in that department.
6. First poo is black
Baby’s first poo is a black sticky tar-like substance called meconium. It comprises mucus, amniotic fluid and everything else they ingested while living in their mum’s belly. As odd as it may sound, this first poo doesn't stink up the place. This is because their gut is still forming, and they don't have the bacteria responsible for making poo smell just yet. As soon as babies start to feed, the bacteria start growing in their digestive tract.
7. Newborns can stop breathing for a few seconds
This one is quite frightening for parents. Most newborns experience periodic breathing. This is when a baby’s breathing pauses for about ten seconds at a time. It can happen while they are sleeping deeply or just resting. It's almost like they forget to breathe. Thankfully, it is a harmless condition and will go away as your baby gets older. Having said that, if your baby stops breathing for longer than a few seconds and you notice them turning blue, treat this as an emergency.
8. Newborns often appear cross-eyed
It’s perfectly normal for a newborn baby’s eyes to appear cross-eyed during the first few months of life. Their little eyes are a bit uncoordinated at first and can’t always track together. But don’t worry, the eyes usually straighten out by 4 to 6 months.
9. Cradle cap
Many newborns develop “cradle cap”… thick, scaly patches on a baby’s delicate head. It is a result of the oil glands in the baby's scalp producing too much oil. This isn't contagious and will resolve without any treatment. If your baby has cradle cap, wash their head with a mild shampoo and use a soft-bristled brush to get rid of the flakes.
10. Cone-shaped head
Babies born vaginally may have odd, cone-shaped shaped heads after birth. This is thanks to their journey through your tiny birth canal. The skull of a baby’s head is very soft and can shift and mould making its way out of you. Not to worry, it generally rounds out in a few days or weeks.
Our weird and wonderful babies
These are just a few surprises your little one may bring as they come into your life. This list isn’t exhaustive... there are plenty more strange and wonderful things about babies that can catch parents by surprise.
Appreciate the whole process of watching your newborn grow into a wonderful adorable child, and be sure to look out for warning signs.
Over to you
What surprised you the most about your newborn? We'd love to hear about your experiences.