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Basics About Your Newborn Baby’s Body

For the past 9 months, you’ve been getting ready for your baby’s arrival. But now that you’re bringing home your bundle of joy, you may feel a little anxious. How will you ever remember everything you learned about what to expect in those first few weeks? Even the best-prepared parents may be surprised by a few things that are quite normal in newborns. 


These common skin findings may be present at birth.

  • Stork bite (nevus flammeus.) This is seen on the forehead or on the back of the neck, or both. This mark almost always disappears as the child grows.

  • Mongolian spot (congenital dermal melanocytosis). This is a birthmark that is blue or blue gray and may look like a bruise. It appears over the lower back and upper buttocks on some babies that have darker skin pigmentation. This spot often disappears by age 5 or 6.

  • Mole (congenital nevus). Moles don’t disappear and may grow larger over time.

  • Port wine stain. This is a red to purple mark that may appear anywhere on the body, but often on the face. This mark tends to grow as your baby grows and can become darker with time. Your baby will need further medical evaluation if the port wine stain is near the forehead or eye.


It’s not uncommon to see a tiny bit of blood in your daughter’s diaper for the first couple of weeks. This tiny bit of vaginal bleeding happens when the baby adjusts to the lack of mother’s hormones once she’s out of the womb. If you see blood in the stool, seek medical attention. 


Mom’s hormones may cause baby’s breast tissue to grow slightly in both girls and boys. These lumps may last for a few months but should then go away. If the lump becomes red or hot to the touch, get medical attention.  

Cord color

You’ve probably been told that your baby’s umbilical cord stump will fall off on its own. But it will turn yellow and then brown or black first as it dries out. Get medical attention if it hasn't fallen off by 3 weeks of age, has drainage, or if the skin surrounding the umbilical cord stump becomes red.

Odd movements

Newborns’ bodies are ruled by reflexes. So your baby won’t be able to control most movements very well for the first few months. Your baby's chin, arms, or legs may seem shaky, especially when crying. This should quiet down when your baby is consoled, swaddled, or held. Get medical attention if you notice jerking that does not decrease.

Other skin problems

Rashes and other skin conditions are common in newborns. Here's a look at several:

  • Acne. Newborn acne or pimples can break out on the baby's face, usually around 2 to 3 weeks old. The cause is unknown, but it seems to be linked to maternal hormones that pass from the placenta to the baby during pregnancy. The acne may get worse by 1 month old, but generally goes away without treatment. It may be helpful to gently wash the baby's face once a day with a mild soap to keep milk residue off the skin.

  • Cradle cap. Cradle cap looks like scaly white or yellow patches on the scalp. These patches are usually gone in a few months. In severe cases, the rash can spread onto the body, causing greasy red bumps. Removing the flakes from the scalp with a soft brush during bath time can help prevent it from getting worse. 

  • Erythema toxicum. This is a reddish-colored rash with small yellowish-white raised bumps in the center. It may be seen on the face, trunk, legs, and arms. The rash may appear within the first couple of days after birth and last for about a week. It typically disappears without any treatment.

  • Milia. These tiny white bumps can appear on your baby's face. They will go away in a few weeks.

Rapid breathing

Healthy newborns average 40 to 60 breaths a minute. Adults take 12 to 18 breaths a minute. A baby’s breathing may pause for up to 10 seconds. Then, the baby starts breathing again.   

Soft spots

The two soft areas on your baby’s head are known as fontanelles. They will be there until the bones in the skull fuse together. When your child cries, they may bulge. The soft spots may pulse along with the baby’s heartbeat.  

If you feel your child is ill or if something just doesn’t seem right, call your healthcare provider.

Online Medical Reviewer: Donna Freeborn PhD CNM FNP
Online Medical Reviewer: Mary Terrell MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Stacey Wojcik MBA BSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 8/1/2023
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