Your newborn looks nothing like you! Here’s why!

Ever since the pregnancy test showed positive, you have waited with bated breath to hold your baby in your arms. You spent lazy afternoons thinking about those glamorous mom-child shots you want to upload on Facebook and wondered who the baby would look like.

And then you give birth one day! The nurse brings you your newborn, and suddenly, you can’t believe it’s yours. The newborn baby looks completely different from what you had imagined! In fact, he looks like nothing like your husband or you. But, before you start getting all confused, understand that a newborn baby looks weird because it’s supposed to!

The Baby’s Head

If you have given vaginal birth, there is a good chance your baby’s head will not be perfectly rounded. There might be pointy bump on the head that looks a little...different from how you imagined it. But there is no cause for concern here. The pointy head in a baby is called molding. It happens because for the baby, passing through the narrow birth canal and coming out through your vagina (with you putting so much pressure on the muscles) is quite an ordeal. This settles down over a few weeks after birth and your baby has the rounded head you imagined it with.

For C-Section babies, the head is typically rounded, without the molding because the baby is getting out without having to pass through a narrow passageway.

Another thing you will notice after birthing is the presence of soft diamond-shaped spots on your baby’s head. Again, there is no need to be alarmed! These spots are called fontanelles and they allow the bony plates of the skull to flex, allowing the child's head to pass through the birth canal. Fontanelles also allow for rapid growth of the brain as it stretches and expands. Fontanelles close on their own within a few months.

Some time after the birth, your baby head may develop a crusty, flaky appearance. This is called a cradle cap. To know more about it, read our post here.

The Baby’s Skin

There is a good chance that immediately after birth, your baby will not have glowing, flawless skin. This too is normal. How the skin on your baby looks will depend on how many weeks pregnant you were before the childbirth. If your baby was premature, the skin will be thin, almost transparent-looking. This will be covered with lanugo, a layer of very fine hair. Some prematurely born babies also have vernix, a greasy white substance that acts as a barrier between the amniotic fluid and your baby’s skin. If you carried your pregnancy to full-term, your baby will have fewer traces of vernix and almost no lanugo.

All babies are born with a reddish-purple skin. Within a day, the skin becomes pinker. The bluish tinge you might see at the baby’s extremities are from a still-maturing blood circulation. A pale, yellowish skin might mean traces of jaundice in your baby - and it is best to check with the pediatrician for this. Only over the next six months will your baby’s skin take on the regular, permanent colour.

It is possible that your baby’s skin will have some rashes or hives or even small pimple-like growths. Please remember that your baby’s skin is still getting used to the air outside and these rashes will settle down on their own without requiring treatment. Also, the baby might still have some of your hormones in it, which cause the acne.

Peeling of the baby’s skin is also normal and this is called desquamation. In fact, a baby can have a number of skin conditions when it is born, but most of these things go away on their own. For a more detailed discussion of your newborn’s skin issues, read this.

Arms and Legs

Your baby spent a long time inside your uterus and this is the first time there is enough space for the baby to stretch its arms and legs. However, the baby doesn’t really know it yet, and therefore, its arms and legs will take some time to really open up. Don’t panic if your baby is not flailing its legs and arms about yet.

Genitals and Breasts

Immediately after birth, babies continue to have some hormones from the mother. This, added with passage through a birth canal, may make your baby’s genitals look slightly swollen at birth. It is usual, and the swelling will subside soon enough. In fact, there might be some discharge from your baby girl’s vagina - these are all excess hormones that passed from you to the baby.

Likewise, there might be some discharge from the baby’s breasts. Do not try to squeeze it out. It is completely harmless and will go away on its own.


The hair your baby is born with will probably not be the same as the hair he grows up with. The texture of your baby’s hair will change over the next 6 months and after the first haircut, the baby’s hair will be very different from what he was born with. So if your baby had pretty curls when she was born, chances are her hair will be very straight after that first haircut.


Your baby’s eyes also stay crinkled and are not strong enough to focus. In fact, newborn babies are nearsighted and they cannot see much far ahead. The eyes open up and focus improves over the next few months as the muscles grow stronger. The extra folds also disappear in a few weeks.

Ears and Nose

Your baby’s ears remain floppy and soft immediately after birth and the edges seem curled. The nose may also seem swollen and slightly bent. Please do not worry because this is nature’s way of easing your baby’s passage through the narrow birth canal. The swelling will go away and the cartilage starts getting stronger.

Your baby has just gone through a major ordeal at birth that reflects in his appearance when you see him for the first time. Don’t worry, don’t panic - your baby will start looking very different in a few weeks. Till then enjoy the first few days of motherhood - these days aren’t going to come back!

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