Newborn Novelties

Many babies whose eyes are perfectly normal have a squinting appearance in the early days of life. If you look at your baby closely you will probably find that it is the marked folds of skin at the inner corners of the eyes that make you think they are squinting. These folds of skin are perfectly normal and become less and less noticeable during the baby's first few weeks. Until the baby has strengthened and learned to control the muscles around the eyes, it is quite usual for there to be difficulty in holding both eyes in line with each other so that they can both focus steadily on the same object. As your baby looks at your face, you may suddenly notice that one eye has "wandered" out of focus. A "wandering eye" almost always rights itself by the time the baby is six months old. But point it out to the doctor at your next visit so that a check can be made on its progress. A true squint means that the baby's eyes never both focus together on the same object. Rather than moving together and then one wandering off, the eyes are permanently out of alliance with each other. If you are the first to notice that your baby has a "fixed squint" you should report it at once to the doctor. Early treatment is both essential and highly successful.
Swollen, puffy or red-streaked eyes
These are very common in the first hours after birth and result from pressure during it. The swelling may make it difficult for your baby to open his eyes at first, but it will soon subside. Any recurrence of trouble with the eyes, once newborn problems have resolved, should be promptly reported to the doctor.
Yellowish discharge/crusting on the lips and lashes
This suggests a very common mild infection, resulting from contact with blood during delivery, and known as "sticky eye." It is not serious but the baby should be seen by the doctor who may recommend drops or a solution for bathing the eyes.
Watery eye
New babies don't usually shed tears when they cry, but may shed them while they are not crying if the tear ducts have not fully opened to allow tears to drain away via the nose. Ducts usually open by the end of the first year.

While it is normal for a baby's ears to produce wax, which is an antiseptic protection for the ear canal, it is never normal for them to produce any other kind of discharge. If you are not sure that the substance you see coming from the ear is wax, consult your doctor. If it is wax, she will be only too pleased to reassure you. If by any chance it is pus, treatment is urgent. Never poke around inside your baby's ears; you could damage the eardrum. Like all body orifices, ears are self-cleaning. Confine yourself to washing around the outside.
Protruding ears
Some babies' ears do seem to stick out a great deal, but that doesn't always mean that they are set on in a sticking out position. Newborn ears are soft and malleable and also look very different once the head takes on a more mature shape and more hair grows.

The tongue of a new baby is anchored along a much greater proportion of its length than is the tongue of an older person. In some babies the anchoring fold of skin is so long that the baby has almost no tongue which is free and mobile. In the past such babies were thought to be "tongue-tied." It was believed that unless the anchoring skin was cut so that the tongue was free, the baby would not be able to suck properly or learn to talk. Now we know that true tongue-tie (one that does cause problems and will not right itself with normal growth) is exceedingly rare. Most of the growth of a baby's tongue during the first year of life is in the tip so that by the first birthday the tongue is fully mobile. In the meantime, its close anchorage has no ill effects.
Blisters on the upper lip
These are called "sucking blisters" because the baby makes them himself with his suction. They can occur at any time while the baby is purely milk-fed. They may vanish between feedings and they are unimportant.
White Tongue
While they are being fed only on milk, babies often have tongues that are white all over. This is absolutely normal. Infection or illness produces patches of white on an otherwise pink tongue.

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