Newborn Appearance

The following information will help you know what to expect in your newborn’s appearance. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to call us or make an appointment to be seen.



Soft Spot

  • normal gap between the skull bones
  • very protected, so don’t worry about hurting it (i.e. touching, scrubbing with shampoo)
  • you may feel the area pulsating with the baby’s heartbeat

Cradle Cap

  • due to a build-up of greasy scales and dead skin on the scalp
  • best way to get rid of it is to remove the build-up by scrubbing it off with a soft baby hairbrush
  • if still present, try a dandruff shampoo like Head & Shoulders or Selsun Blue once a week
  • rub the shampoo into the scalp like a lotion, leave on for 20 minutes, then wash out (avoid getting any shampoo in the eyes)



  • at first, your baby can only see a short distance, about 8-12 inches
  • she can recognize mom’s face in the first few days of life

Eye Movements

  • occasional crossing or trembling of the eyes is normal

Broken Blood Vessels

  • can be seen on the whites of the eyes due to pressure when going through the birth canal
  • goes away in 2-3 weeks

Matting of the Eyes

  • usually due to a blocked tear duct
  • clean by wiping off with a warm wash cloth
  • resolves on its own by 12 months



  • hearing is very good, even in newborns
  • even if a baby fails the hearing test in the hospital, most babies pass the more detailed repeat exam



  • many babies sound congested in the first few weeks, often due to milk getting in the nose
  • some babies develop chronic congestion due to narrow nasal passages -> this usually goes away by 18-24 months
  • you can help by using a bulb syringe with some saline drops to suction out the secretions



  • white spots on the tongue and/or the inside of the cheeks that do not rub off
  • common newborn infection due to yeast
  • call your doctor for medicine to treat this


  • rare to see true teeth after birth
  • small white spots on the gums may be small cysts called “Epstein pearls” — they are common and resolve on their own


Breath Sounds

  • noisy breathing is common and usually normal in the first 2 months
  • due to increased nasal secretions
  • irregular breathing is normal as your baby may pause for 10 seconds between breaths, then breathe rapidly to catch up

Breast Swelling

  • occasionally occurs and is due to mom’s hormones
  • you may also see some associated clear fluid leaking
  • should gradually decrease over the first few weeks

Xiphoid Bone

  • small pointed bone at the base of the breastbone
  • often appears prominent in the infant


Umbilical Stump

  • wash the area, especially the base, 3-4 times a day with rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball -> this will help dry up the navel and may help prevent infection
  • the stump should fall off in 1-3 weeks
  • you may see a few spots of blood for a few days after it falls off



  • mild enlargement of the penis and scrotum in the first few weeks is usually normal and due to mom’s hormones
  • a fair number of boys will have one or both testicles not fully descend -> this usually corrects itself by 1 year of age
  • soft swelling of the testicles is commonly due to fluid collection and usually resolves by 1 year of age
  • erections are normal


  • mom’s hormones can lead to some vaginal swelling after birth
  • white discharge or vaginal bleeding in the first few days is also due to mom’s hormones and will resolve on its own


Mongolian Spots

  • dark purple-blue spots, usually on the lower back and buttocks
  • due to extra pigment
  • will fade by 2 years of age

Dry or Red Skin

  • normal after birth
  • does not require baby oil or lotion
  • can use petroleum jelly for deep cracks (e.g. around the ankles)

Erythema Toxicum

  • harmless rash that looks like flea bites or red splotches
  • goes away in 2-4 weeks
  • no treatment needed


  • common in newborns and occurs at 2-4 weeks of age
  • appears red and splotchy
  • no treatment needed (lotions may actually make it worse)

Capillary Hemangiomas

  • also called “stork bites” or “angel kisses”
  • flat red rash that is usually on the eyelids, neck, or forehead
  • due to a collection of blood vessels near the upper layers of the skin
  • usually go away by 1-2 years (though ones on the neck may last for several years)