Regardless if you've read a shelf-full of baby books, a few things about new parenthood may, undoubtedly, still catch you by surprise. Some will fill you with wonder and warmth, and some will leave you mystefied and even a little panicked (okay, more than a little panicked). Here are a few of the odd and weird things about your baby that are totally normal and when you should worry.
1. Cross-eyed There’s that special moment when your newborn looks at you for the first time -- but wait, is your baby duling? If you’ve noticed your baby is cross-eyed, don’t worry too much just yet. “It's normal for babies' eyes to be crossed in the early months of life and straighten out by the end of the first year,” said renowned pediatrician Dr. William Sears in a column for Parenting. Your child’s doctor knows about it too, and it’s what he checks for when he shines a light in your baby’s eyes.
When to worry: Typically, an infant’s crossed eyes will straighten out without treatment within the first six months. If this isn’t the case for your child, consult with a doctor. Common eye conditions in children can cause blindness and reduced vision if not treated. If caught early, however, they are nearly always preventable, according to Dr. Sears.
2. Green, exploding poop Infant poop can catch you off guard when you’re a new parent. It can look like an explosion in your little one’s diaper! “The truth is the ‘normal’ for babies is pretty varied. From liquid poop to pasty poop—they can all be acceptable and safe,” pediatrician Dr. Rosanne M. Sugay told SmartParenting.com.ph. Aside from consistency, newborn poop comes in a range of colors too -- from green to yellow to light brown. Even weirder, your newborn’s first poop, called menconium stool, is tar-like and black! Infants poop as much as eight times a day too.
When to worry: As long as your baby is happy and eating well, then you shouldn’t worry much about your little one’s poop consistency or frequent bowel movements, said Dr. Sugay. However, if you do notice unusual changes in behavior in your child, call the doctor. Other signs to watch out for also include hard and small stools; stools that are black, white or red in color; and mucus in poop. 3. Extreme dandruff Does your baby have crusty, scaly patches of skin on his scalp? It can seem like an extreme case of dandruff but it’s actually a harmless and common condition in infants called cradle cap. Some babies get it in small patches on their heads, and others can have it all over their scalp even reaching the eyebrows. But don’t worry. “Cradle cap is not contagious and it isn't an indication of poor hygiene. Most of the time, it just goes away on its own,” said KidsHealth. It doesn’t itch or bother your baby, and you can gently try to loosen and remove it with baby shampoo.
When to worry: Check with a pedia if the cradle cap is accompanied by an itchy rash and hair loss. Watch out as well for affected skin that's become red, feels warm or has started to drain fluid as this may be a sign of an infection.
If you're having trouble getting rid of your baby's cradle cap, ask her pedia for tips. The doctor may also give you non-prescription medicated shampoo to use on your child.
4. Pimples When ads and commercials talk about perfect skin, they usually describe it as “baby smooth.” The truth is, however, that a lot of babies’ skin aren’t at blemish free at all. Many infants develop baby acne within the first month of life, according to Mayo Clinic. You’ll notice these as small, red bumps on your baby’s cheeks, nose or forehead. You may also find small, white bumps on your little one’s face -- these are called milia. Your little one’s complexion should clear up within three to four months, and the bumps will leave no scars.
When to worry: Baby acne should go away on its own within a few months. If it stays for longer, don’t hesitate to bring it up with your child’s pedia who may recommend a medicated cream or other treatment.
5. Oddly-shaped head There are two common reasons why a healthy infant has an oddly-shaped head, according to Mayo Clinic. First, passing through the birth canal has resulted in a sort of cone-shaped, elongated head. Second, a baby who lies down for most of the time in the same position will develop a flat spot at the back of the head. Remember, your baby’s head is still malleable as it makes room for the brain to grow. Odd-shaped heads most often even out on their own over time.
When to worry: As part of the well-baby routine check-up, your child’s pedia will examine his head at every clinic visit and will tell you if anything’s amiss. There are conditions that result to an abnormally shaped head as well, like craniosynostosis where a child's skull bones fuse together prematurely; this requires medical attention to treat. If you have any concerns regarding your baby, don’t hesitate to check with a doctor.
6. Swollen genitals It may sound a little odd, but a lot of babies are indeed born with swollen genitals -- both boys and girls. “Your baby is born with extra fluid in her body. This collects in your baby's genitals, causing swollen labia in girls or a swollen scrotum in boys,” according to BabyCenter. “Your baby girl's vagina may also be swollen from receiving your hormones while in the uterus.” The swelling should go down after a few days when your baby starts to lose all that excess fluid.
When to worry: Consult with a doctor if the swelling is accompanied by pain, redness that doesn’t go away, and if your baby cries when he or she pees. 7. Baby boobs Wondering if it’s okay that your little one has baby boobs? Don’t worry, some babies -- both boys and girls -- are born with enlarged breasts. Like swollen baby vagina’s, they’re also caused by receiving your hormones while still in the womb. “The same hormones that cause the mother's breasts to swell and milk glands to be stimulated can do the same to the baby's breasts,” according to WebMD. The baby boobage should go away on its own over time.
When to worry: There is usually no cause for concern with baby boobs but in rare cases, the breasts can get infected. Call your child’s pedia if you notice tenderness, pain or discharge around the area.