Parents make a number of keen observations as they scrupulously examine their newest prodigy in the early days of his (or her) existence. I shall comment on only a few of these, by way of reassurance.

Birthmarks: Many babies have little pink marks, usually on the back of the neck or blue marks on the back. Occasionally, they are present over the eyelids, bridge of the nose, or above the lip. Those on the face usually disappear, although it may take a number of months to do so.

Dry Skin: the skin of the infant is frequently dry and scaly. Give him a few weeks of time and sponge-bathing without any special care and his skin will be just as smooth as the baby ads. No special ointments, lotions, or oils are needed. (Skin care is discussed in greater detail earlier in this booklet).

The Eyes: these may be initially swollen and impossible to see or appear to have mucus because of the medication instilled to prevent infection. Give them 3-6 days and their appearance will be back to normal. It may be months before we can be sure of their permanent color.

Sometimes we see a little blood spot on the white of the eye. This may occur in 30-50% of newborns. It means absolutely nothing and will disappear by 2-3 weeks of age.

Many infants appear to have slightly crossed eyes. This is most often caused by temporary muscle imbalance. Also, sometimes the wide skin area across the nose makes the eyes appear crossed when they are not (pseudostrabismus). This will generally correct itself by the end of the first year; but if crossed eyes persist beyond six months of age, we may refer the baby to an eye specialist to be sure.

Yellow discharge from the eyes, sometimes accompanied by redness or swelling, may occur during the first five to seven days of life. This drainage and swelling is generally caused by the chemical or drug put in infants’ eyes after birth and will clear itself without treatment. Use warm compresses to wipe away any secretions.

The Hands and Feet: Sometimes these are a little blue in appearance. This, too, means nothing. Within a few days to a week they will assume their normal pink color.

The Head: At times there will be a slight distortion of head shape in order for the infant to accommodate the passage within the birth canal. The head will regain its normal appearance within one to three weeks. Incidentally, there may be a slight folding down of the ear lobes or turning in of the feet because of the infant’s position within the womb. These minor deviations can be treated with intelligent neglect with the expectation that by one or two months of age almost all will be normal.

White dandruff-like flakes are often found on the scalp and eyebrows of infants. These flakes are the result of normal shedding of old, dead skin, and they do not indicate a dry scalp condition. Do not use oils, lotions, or VASELINE.® They can only stick these flakes to the scalp and make the condition worse.

If you notice yellowish scales, this is cradle cap. It is very common in infants, and it results from the accumulation of old, dead skin and dried secretions. This condition can occur in spite of washing. You can treat cradle cap by removing the scales with a stiff brush or comb.

The soft spot, or fontanelle, on an infant’s head is a normal gap where the skull bones have not yet joined. The spot is covered by a thick, fibrous tissue and is very tough. You do not need to fear hurting the soft spot by brushing. Sometimes you may notice pulsating of the soft spot. This is normal.

The skull bones contain many normal lumps, bumps and irregularities. This is also normal.

The Ears: Yellow-orange discharge from the ears is call cerumen or ear-wax. It is a normal product of the ear canal lining and will periodically discharge itself to the outer ear. It can be wiped easily from the outer ear with a cotton swab. Never put anything into the ear canal.

Another Kind of Birthmark: There is another type (besides the one mentioned earlier); which is called strawberry “hemangioma.” This kind is characterized by a red birthmark, which becomes darker in color and increases dramatically in size over the first three to six months. This particular type almost always disappears spontaneously by the preschool age.

The Vagina and Breasts: Many newborn girls have a whitish vaginal discharge. Do not worry about this. Simply clean the area with a cotton ball soaked in warm water. Passage of blood-tinged mucus during the first week is common from the newborn vagina but should be reported if it persists.

It’s normal for some babies (boys and girls) to have a think discharge from their nipples or to have enlarged or swollen breasts after birth. No treatment is necessary since the condition will go away. If you notice any definite redness of the breast when they are swollen, notify us. Do not squeeze them.