Mayo Clinic Health Library

Slide show: What a newborn really looks like

Updated: 07-09-2011

Your newborn's eyes

Photo of a newborn's puffy eyes

Wonder what your newborn will look like? Here's a peek at some real newborns so that you'll know what to expect.

During childbirth, pressure on the face might leave your newborn's eyelids temporarily puffy or swollen. In addition, your newborn's legs and feet might look bowed or bent — thanks to the cramped quarters of the uterus. Expect the curves to straighten on their own as your baby grows and becomes mobile.

Your newborn's head

Photo of a newborn's cone-shaped head

During childbirth, pressure from the tight birth canal might cause your baby's skull bones to shift and overlap. This can result in an elongated or cone-shaped skull at birth — particularly if you had a long labor or a vacuum extractor was used during delivery. You can expect your newborn to have a more rounded head within a few days. Babies born buttocks or feet first or by C-section are more likely to have round heads at birth.

Your newborn's umbilical cord

Photo of a newborn's umbilical cord stump

The stump of a newborn's umbilical cord is usually yellowish green at birth. As the stump dries out and eventually falls off — usually within two weeks after birth — it'll change from yellowish green to brown to black. In the meantime, keep the stump clean and dry. Expose the stump to air to help dry out the base, and stick to sponge baths while the area is healing. There's no need to swab the stump with rubbing alcohol.

Your newborn's skin

Photo of a newborn's peeling skin

The top layer of a newborn's skin flakes off shortly after birth. You might notice dry, peeling skin for the first few weeks.  

Your newborn's skin might also be covered by fine, downy hair at birth — known as lanugo — especially on the back, shoulders, forehead and temples. Lanugo is most common in premature babies. It typically wears off within several weeks.

In addition, you might notice white spots on your newborn's face that look like tiny pimples. These harmless spots, known as milia, typically disappear within a few weeks.

Your newborn's breasts and genitalia

Photo of a newborn's swollen breasts

Before birth, the mother's hormones pass through the baby's system. This can lead to swollen breasts at birth — for both boys and girls.

Newborn girls might have light vaginal discharge and a swollen vulva as well. Vaginal discharge might last only several days, and the swelling typically disappears within two to four weeks.

For some newborn boys, fluid is squeezed into the scrotum during birth. This swelling, known as a hydrocele, usually disappears within a few months. Frequent erections are common, too.

Newborn birthmarks

Photo of a salmon patch birthmark

You might notice reddish or pink patches above the hairline at the back of your newborn's neck, on the eyelids or between your newborn's eyes. These marks — sometimes nicknamed stork bites or angel kisses — are caused by collections of blood vessels close to the skin. Marks between the eyes usually fade with time. Marks on the nape of the neck usually remain, although they may become less noticeable as your baby gets older.

Darker skinned babies are sometimes born with a large, flat, bluish-gray mark on the buttocks or lower back (dermal melanosis). This type of mark typically fades during early childhood.

Soft spots

Photo of a newborn's head

You'll notice two soft areas at the top of your baby's head where the skull bones haven't yet grown together. These spots, called fontanels, are designed to allow a baby's relatively large head to move down the narrow birth canal. They also accommodate a baby's rapidly growing brain. You might notice slight bulging from these spots when your baby cries or strains.

Soft spots are covered by a thick fibrous layer. They're safe to touch and typically close within 12 to 18 months, when the skull bones fuse together.

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