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A newborn baby's normal physical appearance

A newborn baby's normal physical appearance


Your baby will change dramatically in appearance over the course of their first week of life, usually looking very different once they have had time to 'uncrumple' - so to speak! You may wish to take a photo every day of your new baby at this time, and then look back at how they 'changed' after the birth.

The following is a summary of some of the normal physical aspects of a newborn baby, as well as some common behaviours that parents often ask about, with the question "Is that normal?"

Head shape and moulding

Face

Nose - breathing, sneezing and coughing

Eyes

Ears

Mouth- quivering lip and hiccups

Body

Arms, legs, hands and feet

Skin

Umbilical cord

Genitals

Head shape and moulding.

A baby's head is around one quarter of their total body length and looks quite big in relation to the rest of their body size. A new baby may be bald or have a thick mass of hair, either straight or curly. (This 'baby hair' will usually not last, but be replaced in the baby's first year of life, probably with hair of a different colour and consistency).

The average head circumference measurement of a newborn baby born at term (or 37 to 42 weeks) is about 34 to 36 centimetres. This initial measurement soon after birth will often be about 1 to 0.5 cms less than when the baby's head is measured again, usually a few days later. This is due to the baby's head changing back to a rounded shape after being 'moulded' during the birth.

As the baby's head passes through the woman's pelvis and vagina during labour, the bones of her baby's skull naturally overlap. This makes the diameter (or width) of the baby's head smaller (by as much as 1cm), giving it a 'moulded' appearance. A newborn baby's head will usually look a little 'out of shape' or 'lopsided' soon after birth.

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