Fun Facts About Newborns

June 24, 2024, cassieley

As my daughter’s first birthday drew near, I looked back at pictures of her first days and weeks after birth and reminisced. I remember asking my midwife many “Is this normal?” questions during that time. This was my first baby, and I did not really have much other experience with newborns. There was a lot I did not know about how newborns look and act.

A Mother with her newborn baby at the hospital a day after a natural birth laborNewborn babies are beautiful, but they can also look a little funny. Don’t be alarmed by their head shape. A baby has fontanels, or soft spots, on their head so that it can be molded to fit through the birth canal. (Therefore, their head shape can also be affected if they were birthed vaginally or by C-section.) Babies’ heads develop over time, which is part of why tummy time is imperative to prevent a flat head. The development of my daughter’s head is part of what makes her look like a grown-up as a one-year-old toddler.

A newborn’s head is not the only aspect of their appearance that may surprise you. New babies have sensitive skin. Therefore, you may notice red dots or baby acne at times. I saw more irritation with my daughter’s skin in the heat of the summer. Their skin can also appear red or blue and purple, which can be startling but normal. New babies do not yet have good circulation to their extremities, causing blue and purple hands and feet in the first 24 hours. Sometimes, babies can turn red or blotchy when crying. However, if your baby’s face or chest is blue or gray, you should call 911.

Hands of a midwife are seen checking the health of a newborn baby boy in moments after labor as mother cradles new lifeIn addition to their appearance, newborn babies’ movements and behavior are noteworthy. I remember being mesmerized by my daughter’s shaky arm movements as well as the startle reflex. I had heard about the startle reflex, but seeing it was so special. Something that I was unprepared for was newborn breathing. I did not know it could be irregular- shallow and rapid or deep and slow. This irregularity is normal, but signs of difficulty breathing include nostril flaring for more than a few minutes, grunting with each breath for more than a few minutes, breathing stopping for more than 10 seconds, or the skin around the ribs or the base of throat pulling in sharply with each breath. It is helpful to know irregular movements and breathing are normal in newborns, but never be afraid to seek help if you have concerns.

Three weeks old newborn with his father.Maybe this is common knowledge to you, but it was not all common knowledge to me. I hope this information can help someone feel prepared and not blindsided by their newborn. At the very least, it will be a helpful reminder to me next time I have a newborn! Of course, if you ever have concerns about your baby, you should talk to your medical provider.

For more on normal newborn behavior, visit: