What can I expect for the appearance of my newborn?

Talk with your healthcare provider about some of the things you should expect about the appearance of your new baby. This list might help set your mind at ease, especially after the birth of your first child.

Here are some things to expect:

  • The umbilical cord stump to remain for the first 10-14 days, but it might not fall off until the third week.
  • Baby’s skin to appear dry and peeling.
  • Fine hair on baby's body — Some fine hair might cover certain parts of baby’s body, such as the shoulders, back, temples, or ears. This hair protects your baby in the uterus and is usually shed within the first week after baby’s birth.
  • Your baby’s breasts to be swollen for two to four weeks — This happens in boys and girls and is caused by estrogen in the mother’s placenta.
  • Your baby’s head to be swollen, either on top or as a smaller lump in different places on the skull — This is caused either from fluid forced into the scalp at birth or from the baby rubbing up against the mother’s pelvic bones. Swelling at the top of the head should go down within a few days, while swelling from friction will go down within two to three months. Call your doctor if swelling increases or lasts longer than normal.
  • Your baby’s legs to be bowed or feet turned up — This is caused by being held tightly in the uterus. Your baby’s legs will straighten out within six to 12 months.
  • Swollen genitals in both boys and girls — Boys might have swollen scrotums, lasting six to 12 months, or the hymen in girls might be swollen, disappearing within two to four weeks.
  • An undescended testicle — A small percentage of boys might have an undescended testicle. They may need surgery later on to correct this if it is not resolved on its own.
  • A shiny and red penis — If your son was circumcised (the foreskin on the penis was removed), the glans of his penis will appear shiny, and red, and might ooze some yellowish fluid. The glans should heal within seven to 10 days.
  • Vaginal discharge — Baby girls might have a vaginal discharge that is clear, white, or pink and lasting for three to 10 days. This is normal and is caused by the estrogen passed to the baby from your uterus.
  • Eye appearance — Sometimes a blood vessel in the white of the eye will break during birth. This is not uncommon and should heal within two to three weeks. A baby’s tear duct can become blocked, making the eye continuously water. This will usually clear up within the first year of life, but be sure to ask your child’s doctor at the next visit, or call the doctor immediately if the eye looks infected or has pus or a yellow drainage.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/01/2018.


  • Kids Health. Looking At Your Newborn: What's Normal? (http://kidshealth.org/parent/pregnancy_center/childbirth/newborn_variations.html) Accessed 1/16/2019.
  • Drugs.com: Your Newborn's Appearance. (http://www.drugs.com/cg/your-newborn-s-appearance.html) Accessed 1/16/2019.

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