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Taking Your Baby Home
by Robert M. Selig, M.D., FAAP & Joann C. Cozza, D.O., FAAP

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4: Unusual But Normal In Your Newborn

Birth Marks: Birth marks are very common and most will fade with time. Red marks are commonly seen on the back of the neck (stork bites), eyelids, nose, and forehead. Dark areas on the buttocks are normal (Mongolian spots) and will also fade with time. It is normal for the red marks to become redder when your baby cries.


Red Marks in the Whites of Your Baby's Eye: These are common and will not affect your baby's vision. The eyes are very susceptible to swelling and bruising during normal labor. The redness will fade with time.


Newborn Rashes: Rashes are very common in your new baby. Many babies are born with small white bumps on their nose and face. These will disappear on their own. Redness of the cheeks and knees is usually from a mild irritation when your baby is rubbing his/her face and knees against the sheets in the bassinet. Any rash that clears up in 24 48 hours should not concern you.


Hiccups: These are common after feeding. Hiccupping is normal and will pass with time even if nothing is done. They are not painful for your baby. If your baby begins to hiccup, try feeding again or using a pacifier. Stimulation of the roof of your baby's mouth by the milk or sucking action, may stop the hiccupping. Many mothers can remember their baby hiccupping while still inside.


Sneezing: This is a normal reflex used by your baby to clear mucus out of his/her nose. It is not a sign of a cold and requires no treatment.


Noisy Breathing and Stuffy Nose: This is normal and will not bother your baby. Babies prefer to breathe through their nose. Their nasal passage is normally narrow and commonly becomes partially blocked. The blockage may be from normal mucus production or a mild swelling of the lining of the nose. This does not mean your baby has a cold. A cool air vaporizer will help clear your baby's nasal passage while sleeping. Avoid using a nasal aspirator unless you see mucus draining out of the nose. Salt water drops (over the counter), when sprayed in your baby's nose, will help loosen any mucus.


Swollen Eyes: This is very common and may take up to a week to resolve. It is more common after a difficult labor, but there is no damage to your baby's eyes. Some parents may notice that their baby seems to open one eye more than the other. This is normal.


Weight Loss: Most babies lose weight while in the hospital. This is normal and your baby will gain back this weight and more within the first few weeks.


Engorged Breasts: Many babies (boys and girls) will develop swollen breast tissue in the first few weeks. This is caused by normal maternal hormones that are passed along to your baby prior to delivery. If you are nursing, your baby will also receive some of these hormones through your breast milk. This is normal and causes no problem. If you see any discharge coming from the breasts, do not try to squeeze. The swelling will disappear with time.


Vaginal Discharge: Female babies may have a mucus or bloody discharge. This is normal and is caused by normal maternal hormones passed along to your baby either before birth or when nursing. You can clean the genital area with a warm washcloth (no soap is necessary): This discharge will resolve.


Long Nails: Most babies have sharp nails, and they always manage to find their face. If you have a problem with your baby scratching his/her face, keep the arms of the shirt pulled over the hands or use a sock to cover the hands. Infant scissors can be used to cut your baby's nails. To avoid cutting the nail too close, be sure the curve of the scissors is pointing away from the nail. A fine emory board can also be used to file down any sharp points. Choose a calm time for cutting your baby's nails (after a feeding or bath). Laying your baby on his/her belly makes it easier to open your baby’s hand.


Forceps Marks: Some babies delivered by forceps will have a mark on their face where the forceps were used. These marks are common and fade after a few days. You may notice small, hard swellings under the skin where the marks were. These will disappear with time and leave no scars. They do not cause any discomfort to your baby.


Spitting Up: Spitting up is common. It occurs in both breast and bottle-fed babies. Many times it occurs with burping, when an air bubble becomes trapped in your baby's stomach. Feeding your baby in an upright position will sometimes lessen the spitting. After feedings, sitting your baby in an infant seat may also help. As long as your baby is gaining weight, comfortable, and healthy, the spitting up is normal and will lessen with time.


Hair: How Much is Normal? Some babies are born with lots of hair while others have none. Every baby will eventually develop a full head of hair, but you may have to be patient. It can take up to 2 years of age. It is normal for your baby's hair to fall out faster than it grows in. This is the normal shedding of dead hair and does not mean that your baby is becoming bald. Babies who like to lie with their head in a certain position will develop temporary areas of baldness (back of head). This will fill in with normal hair. Braiding puts a strain on your baby's hair roots and can result in excessive hair loss.


Jaundice: This is common in the first few days of life. Jaundice is a term used to describe a yellow color that may develop in your baby's skin. The yellow color is caused by a build up of bilirubin in your baby's body. Babies are usually born with more red blood cells than they need. These excess cells are broken down in your baby's body during the first few days. Bilirubin is produced as these cells are broken down. Your baby is able to eliminate this bilirubin in their bowel movements. The normal brownish yellow color of your baby's bowel movement is caused by this bilirubin. In some babies, this bilirubin is not eliminated fast enough. When this occurs, the bilirubin builds up in your baby's body, resulting in a yellow skin color. In most cases, no treatment is necessary. The jaundice will clear within the first week. We monitor your baby's jaundice everyday while in the hospital and after discharge if necessary.


Crooked Feet: The turning in or out of your baby's feet and legs is normal and results from the position that your baby was laying inside of you. Letting your baby stand while supporting him/her under the arms will not hurt his/her legs.


Vitamins: Bottle fed babies receive all the vitamins they need from the formula. We recommend a vitamin supplement for breast-fed babies. Fluoride is recommended for babies after 6 months of age. It helps to lessen cavities. If your baby will be receiving Philadelphia water (when mixed with the formula), then no fluoride supplement will be necessary.


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