Newborns are cute, cuddly, and oh-so-soft – everything you may have pictured. But there are some downright strange things you may experience with your newborn, that the books either didn’t mention or glossed over. Rest assured, the following five things are perfectly normal – just not quite in line with the sweetness you were expecting…
- Blowouts (aka projectile poo or poonami)
What it is: Every parent remembers the moment when they went into the nursery to greet their just-awake baby and discovered poo on seemingly every surface within a 3m radius of the cot. Or changing your baby’s nappy for a fresh one, then hearing an unexpected sound – and discovering that your baby not only has poo up her back, in her hair, and in her socks, but also the clean clothing you have just put on her will probably need to be burned as it’s beyond washing. Newborn poo is usually pretty liquidy, and those tiny, cute bottoms can actually project it across the room, which might really surprise you the first time it happens.
How to deal: Well, clean up in Aisle 4, obviously – but for future reference, keep a muslin, face cloth, or cloth nappy over your baby’s nether regions when you’re getting them ready for a fresh nappy (it might contain a poonami in a smaller space, at least).
When to worry: Newborn poo should generally be greenish, brown, or yellow, with seedy particles in it. But if it’s giving your baby a rash, the colour is odd, or you see any blood in the poo, get in touch with your midwife, Plunket nurse, or GP straightaway.
- Baby breasts
What is it: the same pregnancy hormones which made you cry at odd times, throw up in the supermarket, and cry when you dropped a piece of chocolate on the floor may also give your baby little breasts or hard breast buds under their nipples, which can be disconcerting to discover.
How to deal: As your hormones work their way out of your baby’s body, so too will these mini-breasts go away. It may take some time, but they probably aren’t very noticeable to anyone but you, and they will decrease.
When to worry: If your baby has any redness around the breast or nipple area, take their temperature to see if they have a fever – it could be a sign of something a bit more serious, and should be checked by your GP.
- Odd head shape
What is it: Does your newborn have a conehead, or a flat spot? Often newborns who arrive via a vaginal birth can have their heads squeezed and shaped in unexpected ways, and can even arrive a bit bruised from the journey. And the back-to-sleep message, while extremely important, does sometimes mean that your baby might develop a flat spot on the back of their head.
How to deal: Most newborn heads will start to ease into their natural, more pleasing shape after a few days. And when it comes to flat-headedness, try holding your baby in your arms as they sleep, and give them more tummy time when awake, alternating which side you place toys on.
When to worry: Talk to your GP or midwife if your baby’s conehead doesn’t seem to be resolving naturally, or if you are noticing that the flat spot seems pronounced or won’t go away. Your baby may need to wear a special helmet to correct their head shape.
- Swollen genitals
What is it: So many new dads are chuffed to notice that their newborn baby boy’s genitals are, ahem, larger than life – particularly their scrotum, which can appear to be, well, huge. For girls, their labia can appear puffy and swollen at birth. This is usually caused by extra fluid buildup in your baby’s body, which is another effect of those wonderful hormones you’ve passed on during pregnancy.
How to deal: Wait it out – your baby should flush out the extra fluid in the first few days after birth, and then things will appear to be a bit more proportionate.
When to worry: If your baby’s genitals still appear to be swollen after a few days, talk to your midwife or GP, particularly if your baby is a boy – it may be a condition called hydrocele, which can take a year or so to resolve on its own.
- Cradle cap
What is it: Dry, flaky, yellowy, oily patches of what looks like dead skin on your baby’s scalp – like really bad dandruff that won’t go away. It’s very common and will usually disappear within your baby’s first six months, although sometimes you may see random patches after six months. It’s not harmful to your baby, but it is unsightly.
How to deal: Rub olive oil on the patches a few times a week, and comb out the loose bits – but don’t pick at it.
When to worry: Sorry, this one just needs time to resolve. But if you are finding patches on other areas of your baby’s body, such as under her arms or behind her knees, it could be eczema – and if you feel like the cradle cap is getting more severe or irritated, see your GP as it may be an infection
More To Know About Newborns From BUMP&baby:
BUMP & baby is New Zealand’s only magazine for pregnancy and early babyhood. Our team of mums and mums-to-be understand what it’s like to be pregnant in this connected age, and that’s why BUMP & Baby online is geared toward what pregnant women and new mums really want to know.