Before I had my first little one, I thought I was pretty knowledgeable about all things baby. As it turned out, I was in for quite a surprising ride! Even if you’ve done a ton of babysitting in your life, you’ve probably never cared for a newborn in their first hours and days of life. These strange newborn facts will help get you prepared for what you’re about to see.
Newborns poop with every feeding.
And they feed every 2-3 hours, around the clock. You do the math- that means newborns poop around 8 times per day!
There is a huge amount of variability with newborn poop, especially between breastfed and formula fed babies. Breastfed babies poop more often (to start) than formula fed babies. It is liquidy and can range in color from yellow to light brown. For the first six weeks or so, they will have dirty diapers 4-12 times a day.
After that, their bodies can hold more and their digestive systems slow down. At that point, breastfed babies may poop 1-3 times per day, or can go up to a week between bowel movements.
They really do see in black and white.
Babies are born with very immature vision. The underdeveloped eye muscles mean they frequently go cross-eyed, one of many terrifying newborn traits that can scare new parents. They also see in shades of black, white, and gray.
Gradually over the first few months, babies will develop their color vision. Until then, stimulate them with black and white toys and books.
Newborns also can only see 8-12 inches in front of them, so make sure to get nice and close. They prefer to look at faces than objects. Holding them close and gazing at them during feedings gives them the perfect visual stimulation.
Newborns often cry, but they can’t make tears.
Your newborn will spend a significant part of their day crying, but don’t expect to see any waterworks. They don’t make any tears for the first two weeks, and it will be months before they make enough tears to see them rolling down your little one’s cheeks.
According to Very Well Family:
Newborns start making tears when they are about two weeks old, but often it is just enough to keep their eyes moist and not enough to make real tears that you can see when they cry. Infants often don’t develop real tears that you can see until they are about seven or eight months old.
Mom’s hormones mean babies can develop breasts.
This might be the winner of the most strange newborn facts. Both boy and girl babies can be born with swollen breasts as a result of their mother’s hormones coursing through their bodies. You may even see a few drops of breastmilk leak out of their tiny nipples. Don’t be alarmed! It doesn’t mean anything is wrong with your baby, and it should completely stop around the one month mark.
Baby girls can even have a mini-period.
Also because of the exposure to Mom’s hormones, you might see some surprises when changing your daughter’s diaper. Small amounts of vaginal discharge are normal in the days after birth, as is a small amount of vaginal bleeding. Just clean the vagina gently with a wipe and diaper as usual. It is simply from her body withdrawing from the hormones she was exposed to in utero.
Although this is normal, if it does not fade within a few days you should call your doctor.
Babies come out with mysterious birth marks.
Often times these birth marks fade away over time.
Here are a few of the most common types of birthmarks you might find on your baby:
- Nevus Simplex: Commonly called a “stork bite” or “angel kiss”, these harmless flat red birthmarks occur in up to 80% of newborn babies. They are collections of small red blood vessels often seen on the face, neck, or lower back. They should fade by the time the baby reaches toddlerhood.
- Infantile hemangiomas: These raised red collections of blood vessels are often called “strawberry marks”. They are fairly common, with about 5% of babies having one. Infantile hemangiomas grow bigger during baby’s first couple months of life and then shrink down and fade. However, sometimes they require medical treatment so be sure to alert your doctor if your child has one.
- Mongolian spots: Typically found on darker skinned babies, Mongolian spots are flat gray, blue, or brown areas of skin covering the back, butt, or legs. They may be mistaken for bruises, but unlike bruises they do not change in size or shape. They do gradually fade and should disappear by early childhood.
Baby boys get erections from day one.
And even before that, if you happen to catch him at the right moment on ultrasound.
Some parents are horrified to see their tiny newborn baby sporting an erection, but it’s nothing to worry about. It’s a purely physical reaction, often occurring when they are about to urinate. So if you see one, cover him up quickly before you get a shower!
Newborns have almost 100 more bones than adults.
It’s strange, but true. Babies are born with 300 bones, adults have only 206.
The reason? Babies are soft and bendable by nature- it helps them be able to fit through the birth canal. They have more cartilage, which is more flexible than hardened bone. There is also space between bones, which will later fuse together. This fusing is how the number of total bones actually decreases with age.
One example is the skull, which is made up of separate plates or fontanelles in infants (remember that pesky soft spot on top of baby’s head?). You can see here how there are spaces between the plates in the newborn skull. In the adult skull, these plates have fused into one solid piece of bone.
Babies’ heads are disproportionately huge.
In adults, the head makes up about 1/8 of a person’s total body length. For babies, the head is 1/4 to 1/3 of their height! Newborns have huge heads to accommodate their big brains, which are bigger than ever thanks to evolution:
The human lineage began to develop separately from other great apes approximately 5 million to 7 million years ago. While the brains of both branches continue to grow, the last 2 million years of human evolution have led to an explosion in brain growth. In contrast with the marginal increases in the great apes, the human brain has more than tripled in size over the past 2 million years. Despite such changes in the size of the brain, the human body has changed little in size over the same period. –Livestrong
Throughout childhood and adolescence, head growth slows and limbs extend, resulting in the typical human proportions you see in adults.
What are your thoughts on these strange newborn facts?
Let me know in the comments!