The newborn baby from head to toe

In your arms you're holding a tiny baby, who is wrinkly, red and fragile. It might be good to know this about your newborn baby.

Much of that little baby isn't fully developed yet, like skin and hormones. It takes a few weeks for the baby to adjust to life outside the womb.

The newborn baby
• Can't hold up its own head. You must be careful and ensure you support the head when moving and holding your baby.

• See well at a distance of 20-25 cm. In other words they can see the essentials – you. Read about how the senses and the baby's brain gradually develop.

• Normally lose weight in the first 3-4 days after they are born. The child will usually gain weight again soon, but it can take a few weeks for them to reach their birth weight.

• Often have cold, sometimes bluish hands and feet in the first few days. This is because their circulation hasn't fully developed yet.

• React to voices and music they recognise.

• May still have what is known as lanugo hair, which covers the skin, usually the shoulders and back.

• May still have some white fatty deposits, a bit like vaseline, in the folds of their skin. This is vernix.

• They may have red, swollen genitals when they are born. This usually subsides within a week.

• Their dry skin could peel. Moisturise or massage with a little baby oil, the baby's natural fat production will soon kick in. Read more about your child's skin.

• Probably has small spots and blemishes at the beginning. This goes away eventually.

• No feeling in their little umbilical stub - there aren't any nerves in there. Read more about navel care

• Girls may get a whitish discharge from their vagina. This is caused by hormones and disappears after a few days.

• Have a tiny little bit of milk in their breasts. This is a hormonal effect that soon disappears.

• Their skin is often a little yellow and sometimes the whites of their eyes too. This colouring is due to increased levels of what is known as bilirubin in the blood and it usually goes away within a few weeks. Sometimes the child may require treatment.

• They have a grasp reflex that is so strong they can support their own bodyweight if they were to hold on with all fingers on both hands. Read more about the newborn baby's reflexes.

In the article about baby care you'll find advice about everything from nappy changes to washing out ears, itchy eyes and a flaky scalp, advice on how to clip your baby's nails and give them vitamin D drops. 
Take good care of you - both of you.

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