15 Surprising Newborn Features That Will Quickly Change

Newborn babies are as sweet as can be, but their initial appearance can also be a little surprising. First-time parents (and even second and third timers!) often picture their infant with smooth, flawless skin and perfectly formed features. But especially immediately after birth, newborn babies don’t really resemble the dolls we imagine. We take a look at 15 newborn features that you might not be expecting, all of which will change very quickly.

From red faces and cone heads to bluish toes and birthmarks, newborns’ appearances display evidence of where they’ve been, what they’ve been through, and what basic functions they still need to develop. Babies are born with unique features that aided their life in the watery womb, and made their exit strategy possible. They also arrive with some immature systems that might be on display through the color of their hands, a mark on their neck, or blue eyes in a decidedly brown-eyed family.

These 15 newborn features might surprise parents, but each one is very common and normal. Your newborn might have any or all of them. But they won’t stick around for long. Read on to find out what to expect from your newborn baby’s appearance, and when these surprising newborn features will change.


1. Red Faces & Blue Toes

What: Babies usually emerge from the birth canal a shade of deep red or even purplish. And some babies’ hands and feet even appear bluish, thanks to immature circulatory systems (but if you see blue skin tones anywhere else, call your doctor immediately!).

When it will change: Expect that red color to begin subsiding within a day. And any bluish tone in baby’s hands and feet should resolve within a few months.

2. Yellowy Skin

What:  Many newborns take on a yellowish tone, a sign that they’re still shedding bilirubin, a waste product processed by the liver. When a baby has high levels of bilirubin, it’s diagnosed as newborn jaundice.

When it will change: Jaundice usually appears in the first five days of life and can take a week or two to resolve, usually on its own. Severe or worsening cases of jaundice may be a sign of other serious conditions and needs immediate medical attention.

3. Misshapen Head

What: Babies often arrive looking a little cone headed. Their misshapen heads are caused by the pressure from labor, contractions, and a tight squeeze through the birth canal.

When it will change: Baby’s head will become rounder within the first week of life.

4. Greasy Coating

What: Known as vernix, this thick white coating helps protect newborns’ skin from the amniotic fluid, and also acts as a lubricant for their trip out.

When it will change: Most of the vernix will be wiped off by hospital staff at birth, though you might find some hiding in baby’s wrinkles and folds! If you do, gently rub it into baby’s skin, or wipe it away with a soft cloth.

5. Skin Shed

What: Newborn skin may begin to peel or flake within one to three weeks of birth, as baby develops skin better suited for the world outside the womb.

When it will stop: Give it a few weeks. The amount of peeling depends on how much vernix baby boasted at birth (the more vernix, the less shedding).

6. Fuzzy Wuzzy

What: Premature and early terms babies often arrive with a layer of soft, downy hair called lanugo, which can appear anywhere but occurs primarily on baby’s backs and shoulders.

When it will disappear: Lanugo wears off within a few weeks.


7. Whiteheads

What: Those tiny white bumps on baby’s cheeks, nose, and forehead are called milia. They’re common, harmless, and require no treatment.

When they will go away: They’ll disappear on their own in a few weeks.


8. Baby Breasts and Swollen Parts

What: Both newborn boys and girls may display swollen breasts, caused by the mother’s hormones. Baby girls might also experience a small amount of vaginal discharge.

When it will change: Swelling will subside within a few weeks, and discharge within a couple of days.

9. Cross Eyes

What: Newborns’ eyesight is not well developed at birth, and their eyes might occasionally wander or go cross eyed.

When they will correct: By the end of month two, newborns’ eyes begin working together and gain consistent focus.


10. Umbilical Cord Stump

What: The remnants of baby’s in-utero nutrient-delivery system, an umbilical cord stump resembles a scab that’s about an inch long, purplish in color, and attached to baby’s belly button.

When it will fall off: The stump should dry up and fall off between one to two weeks after birth. Expose baby’s belly to air frequently and keep the area dry (sponge baths only) until it heals.


11. Acne Attack

What: Many infants develop baby acne on their cheeks, nose, and forehead. It’s thought to be caused by the mom’s hormones, and it usually appears two to four weeks after birth.

When it will heal:  Expect baby acne to clear up on its own by baby’s third or fourth month.


12. Baby Hair

What: Newborns can be born bald, with just the finest layer of fluff, or with thick manes, in a range of colors.

When it will change: Expect your baby’s newborn hair (if s/he has any) to fall out by six months. From there, your baby might immediately begin to grow new hair, or it could take months or even a year or two. Whenever it does come in, your baby’s new head of hair will likely be wildly different in color, texture, and thickness from that newborn do.


13. Eye Color

What: Newborn babies of Caucasian descent usually have blue eyes at birth, the result of their still-developing melanin pigment levels.

When they will change: Are those baby blues to good to be true? You’ll know soon enough: Babies’ eyes usually change color by three to six months old, but may take longer.


14. Soft Spots

What: Babies are born with two fontanels, or soft spots, on their heads where their skulls are not yet fused together. These spots are covered with a thick fibrous layer and are safe to touch.

When they will change: According to the Mayo Clinic, fontanels will close within two years.



15. Birthmarks

What: Some babies have pinkish or reddish birthmarks on their faces or the backs of their necks (these are sometimes called stork bites) caused by immature blood vessels. Darker skinned babies may show bluish-green spots on their lower backs or bottoms, nicknamed Mongolian birthmarks.  

When they will disappear: Marks on the face often fade within a few months, while the marks on the neck and back/bottom might stick around for a few years.

I’m a married mom of two living in Seattle, WA. I have a eight-year-old little boy, a second grader! He’s a fairly reserved kid and all about Legos and Minecraft. I also have a little girl who turned four at the end of February. She’s a tiny thing but a big ham; we call her our clown. They’re a lot of work but also a ton of fun. I love to eat, cook, and run (in that order). But at the end of the day, give me a spot on the couch and a little bit of TV or a good book, I’m done!