Your little one is beautiful – no question! Remember, though, that brand new babies come with a few unexpected quirks all of their own. Here’s what to expect:


When will the umbilical cord drop off?

Soon after birth, your baby’s umbilical cord is clamped and cut. The remaining stump will dry-out and blacken and, after 10 to 21 days, drop off. It might look a bit unpleasant, but don’t worry; it isn’t hurting your baby. Try to keep the surrounding area clean and dry. It’s a good idea to fold your baby’s nappy down below the umbilical cord so as to expose it to air, and avoid baths until the skin is completely healed. If it does become red or starts to ‘weep’, talk to your midwife or GP, as this may be a sign of infection.

Are my baby’s swollen genitalia normal?

Your baby gets an extra dose of female hormones just before birth, and these affect them for a couple of weeks afterwards. Breasts in both sexes may be a little swollen and genitals may appear slightly enlarged. This swelling is also to do with the extra fluid a newborn has in his body, which can cause swollen labia in girls or a swollen scrotum in boys. It’s perfectly normal and should soon subside. Baby boys can have extra fluid in a sac around one or both testicles, a condition called a hydrocele (pronounced hydro-seal). This usually goes away within the first few months, or at least by the first year.

Why is my baby’s skin spotty?

Newborns often have tiny white spots on their face, called milia. They’re harmless and will go away without any treatment, in two or three weeks. Baby acne, which looks more like little pimples, is also very common and tends to show up after a couple of weeks. Don’t be tempted to use creams as this can further irritate your baby’s skin. Just be patient and it will disappear of its own accord.

When will his head look a normal shape? If you’ve had a vaginal birth, squeezing through the birth canal may leave your baby’s head a little cone-shaped. It’s nothing to worry about, and it should return to normal in about a week. Forceps and ventouse (suction cup) babies tend to have marks or bruising on the face or side of the head, which, although distressing to see, usually clears up on its own within a week or so. C-section babies don’t come through the birth canal, so their heads tend to be round.Can I touch my baby’s soft spot?

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Don’t be afraid of touching the fontanelle or ‘soft spot’ on the top of his head – it’s covered by a tough membrane and is less fragile than you think. It’s the fontanelle that allowed your baby’s head to change shape and squeeze through the birth canal, and won’t close up until well after his first birthday. If your baby’s fontanelle is sunken it may be a sign of dehydration; a bulging fontanelle can be a symptom of meningitis. In either case, contact your GP for advice.


Is my baby’s yellow skin normal?

If your baby is a yellowish colour, he may have jaundice, which is very common in newborns. This is caused when blood contains high levels of the naturally occurring chemical bilirubin, which is produced by the normal breakdown of red blood cells. These are constantly recycled and usually cleaned from the blood by the liver. Newborns have higher levels of bilirubin because they have extra red blood cells and their livers can’t metabolise the excess chemical. ‘Jaundice usually disappears within two weeks without treatment,’ says Dr Rob Hicks. ‘If it doesn’t improve or becomes worse, however, babies can be given phototherapy (light treatment). It’s important to seek medical advice straight away if the jaundice hasn’t gone by two weeks, if it only starts to develop a week after a baby was born, or if the baby’s poo is chalky white, as this can indicate an underlying liver problem.’