After nine long months of expectation, you’ve finally met your newborn baby! As you settle in to life with your infant, you’ll probably be on the watch for the physical traits that reflect your heritage—whether your eyes, your partner’s chin, or your Aunt Peggy’s nose. It’s a joy to get to know your baby’s signature features. But what if your little bundle of joy is a little…funny looking? They look nothing like those fluffy baby pictures you are used to seeing. On the contrary, they might look greasy, grimy, and even weird. And this isn’t limited to their appearance alone. Here are 5 weird things about newborn babies, especially the first hour after birth, that nobody talks about.
#1 They Are Covered With White Coating
If you’ve ever seen a just-born baby, you might’ve noticed that his skin is covered in cheesy, white clumps or patches. That strange coating is called the vernix caseosa, and it’s actually good for your baby (and maybe even you, too). It is a protective layer that usually starts developing on the fetal skin during the third trimester. It protects fetal skin from germs and provides hydration when the fetus is floating around in the amniotic sac before birth.
The thick, white coating on your newborn baby’s skin isn’t the prettiest, but it offers some surprising benefits to you and your little one. So should you wait to wash it off? Due to its benefits, it is sometimes recommended to not wash away the vernix caseosa immediately after birth. WHO recommends leaving the vernix on your baby for at least six hours, and preferably 24. As for an upper limit? There’s no official recommendation.
#2 Their First Poop Will Scare You
One look at the slime in your baby’s diaper might throw you off guard! This is because the color of your baby’s first poop will either be black or a green tarry shade. Your baby’s first poops are called meconium with no smell. As your baby begins to breastfeed or drink formula, their body will get rid of the meconium, making room for processing the milk or formula they are drinking. Meconium is a nearly odorless, greenish-black, gooey substance that’s passed during your baby’s first few bowel movements, often during the first 24 hours after his birth. If your baby does not have a bowel movement or pass a meconium stool, it could be a sign that something is wrong.
#3 They’ll Have Fine Hair All Over The Body
It can be surprising to discover body hair on your newborn, whether that’s lanugo on their shoulders or a thick mop of hair on their head. That soft peach fuzz covering your new baby’s back, shoulders, arms and feet may be shocking, but it’s also normal. Officially known as lanugo, it is the first hair made by the body and it plays a vital role in protecting the baby’s skin and regulating her body temperature in the womb. There’s no need to worry about this extra layer of hair—it will be shed over the first few weeks of life.
#4 Newborn Noises Will Amaze You
You’ve heard the expression “sleeping like a baby”? If newborns are any indication, that means noisily—and with odd breathing patterns that often scare new parents, says Bacon. “Newborns make all sorts of strange squeaks in their sleep. As long as they are not grunting with every breath, it’s totally fine,” she reassures. Awake or asleep, an infant may exhibit irregular breathing for months until their nervous system fully develops. This can mean rapid, shallow breathing, followed by deep breaths and even a pause for up to 10 seconds—all tricks designed to alarm new parents. When should you really worry? If baby’s nostrils flare or they grunt with every single breath or their ribs become pronounced with inhalation, baby may be working too hard for oxygen, Bacon says.
#5 They Have Sudden Reflexes
Babies are born helpless but have impressive newborn reflexes. Many of your baby’s movements in their first weeks are done by reflex. Reflexes are involuntary movements or actions. This means it is involuntary or happens without your baby trying. Some movements are spontaneous and occur as part of the baby’s normal activity. Others are responses to certain actions. The most noticeable is probably the startle, or Moro, reflex, a response to a loss of support that causes a baby to fling out their arms and draw them back in. The newborn reflexes fade gradually and are typically gone by the end of the third month.
Aren’t these facts about a newborn baby really weird and amusing? Maybe there are some which you might have already heard and some which are totally new. Whatever the case may be, we are sure that you will now look at babies from a new perspective altogether with your new-found knowledge (wink-wink)!