Newborn Novelties

Birthmarks
There are many kinds of birthmark; only a doctor can say whether the mark that worries you is a birthmark and if so whether it is the kind that will vanish on its own or not. But remember that red marks on the skin often arise from pressure during birth. This kind will vanish within a few days.
Peeling
Most new babies' skin peels a little in the first few days. It's often most noticeable on the palms and soles. Post-term babies may have extra-dry skin, and babies of African and Asian descent often have skin and hair that is much drier than babies of European descent. On the whole, the fewer and simpler the products that are applied to a new babies' skins, the better. If dry skin requires an emollient to keep it from cracking, choose a hypoallergenic baby lotion or a pure vegetable oil.
Scurf on the scalp
This is as normal as skin peeling elsewhere; it is nothing to do with dandruff and does not suggest lack of hygiene. A really thick cap-shaped layer of brownish scales, known as "cradlecap," can be a nuisance. It sometimes spreads to the baby's eyebrows and behind the ears. Your doctor may suggest that you try a special shampoo, ointment or oil.

Hair
Any amount of hair on the head, from almost none to a luxuriant growth, is normal. Babies born late, after extra time in the womb, may have a great deal of rather coarse hair. Whatever it is like at birth, most of the newborn hair will gradually fall out and be replaced. The color and texture of the new hair may be quite different.
Body Hair
In the womb babies are covered with a fine fuzz of hair called lanugo. Some, especially babies born prematurely, still have traces, usually across the shoulder blades and down the spine. This hair will gradually rub off in the first week or two.

Head
Oddities of Shape
Babies' skulls are designed to "give" under pressure. The second stage of an unassisted labor may dramatically elongate your baby's head, while forceps sometimes leave depressions as well as bruises. Vacuum extraction doesn't usually affect the actual skull but often raises a doughnut-shaped swelling on the top of the head. If your new baby looks like a prize-fighter, being born gave him a hard time. But that doesn't mean it damaged him.
Fontanelles
These are areas where the bones of the skull have not yet fused together. The most noticeable lies toward the back of the top of the baby's head. Fontanelles are covered by an extremely tough membrane and there is no danger whatsoever of damaging them with normal handling. In a baby without much hair, a pulse may be seen beating under the fontanelle. This is perfectly normal. If the fontanelle seems sunken, so that there is a visible "dip" in the head, the baby is probably dehydrated (usually due to very hot weather or fever) and should be offered water or a feeding at once. If the fontanelle should ever appear to be tight and tense and to bulge outward even when the baby is not crying, he should see a doctor urgently as it could be a sign of illness.

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