Understanding your newborn baby

A head to toe guide to your brand new baby


Your newborn’s hair

On her head

“Your baby may have lots of hair or none at all, but any amount is completely normal,” says Simone Cave, co-author of Your Baby Week By Week. Most newborn hair will gradually fall out and be replaced, but it isn’t always obvious. “Sometimes new hair grows as newborn hair is falling out so there’s not always a period of complete baldness,” adds Simone.


On her body

“When your baby is in the womb, she’s covered in lanugo – a fine downy hair,” says Lucy Beaumont, midwife at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital. “A baby might be born with it, particularly if she’s premature, but it’s not a problem and usually falls out on its own in the first week or two.”

When born, your baby’s vision is blurred, but he’ll be able to recognise you after a few weeks.

Your newborn’s vision

“A newborn baby can see around nine to 12 inches in front of her face,” says Lucy. “Although she can’t see fine details, she’ll be able to make out your face and can tell the difference between light and dark.

You may also notice your baby has irregular eye movements, as until the eye muscles and nervous system have strengthened she may have difficulty holding both her eyes in line,” adds Lucy. “This normally rights itself after a few months, but if your health visitor notices, she’ll continue to monitor it.”

One way to wind your newborn can be to hold him over your shoulder and rub his back.

Your newborn’s head

“The fontanelle is the name of the soft spots on your baby’s head where the bones haven’t fused together yet,” says Lucy. “During birth they overlap to make the diameter of her head smaller, but they’ll realign again within a day or two, and completely fuse together over the next couple of months.

“A forceps delivery may leave slight bruising on your baby’s head and on one side of her cheek, but this will all clear up in around 24-48 hours,” adds Lucy.

“A ventouse delivery – where a small suction ‘cup’ is placed on your baby’s head 
to help her out – may leave your baby with a cone-shaped bump on the top of her head but this will also go down in around 24 hours.”

Breastfeeding doesn’t have to be painful – breastfeeding support is out there.

Your newborn’s feeding

“In the first few weeks it’s best to feed your baby on demand,” suggests Simone. “Don’t worry about getting her into a routine at the moment as there’s plenty of time for that later.” At this stage just concentrate on getting through the day and don’t even look at the clock for timing feeds.

“Be prepared for a growth spurt at around three weeks,” adds Simone. “She may demand more milk at this stage, but if you’re breastfeeding you’ll start to produce more milk as she needs it.” This may take a day or two and your baby will cry until your supply meets her demand, but it’ll soon settle down.

How much does your baby rely on you to settle back to sleep when he wakes?

Your newborn’s grip

“Your newborn baby will automatically tighten her fingers around anything that is pressed into the palm of her hand,” says Simone. “She can grasp very tightly, but this grasping reflex is generally lost at around 3 months as she’ll gain the ability to decide herself whether she wants to grip something.”

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