I can still remember the moment when my niece was born: we were huddled outside the nursery room, waiting for our first look at the newest addition to our family. The curtains were drawn, and there she was! Suddenly, I heard my niece’s father say: “Why does my baby look like an alien?”
I secretly agreed with him. She didn’t look at all like the cute bundle of joy I was expecting. In fact, her newborn skin color was a reddish purple, plus it looked wrinkly and dry. Even experts agreed with my niece’s father: “The ‘newborn’ look is – to put it bluntly – a bit bizarre,” says BabyCenter.
What to expect about a newborn’s skin
Pinoy parents, of course, would have expectations about their newborn’s features. And one of the first questions they’d probably ask is: “Paano malalaman kung maputi ang sanggol?” Well, depending on their race, it could take months before your little one shows her true colors.
Here are six things you can expect (and what you’d want to know) about your newborn’s skin color:
1. It will be reddish-purple for a few days.
According to the parenting website What to Expect, this happens to all newborns, regardless of ethnicity. That’s because their circulation system is catching up now that they’re outside the womb. “As the baby starts to breathe air, the color changes to red,” says Stanford Children’s Health. “A baby’s hands and feet may stay bluish in color for several days. This is a normal response to a baby’s underdeveloped blood circulation.”
2. Your newborn may be covered with fine hair for the first few days.
This is called lanugo, and it is usually more noticeable in premature babies. The soft, downy hair (which is sometimes dark) appears on the shoulders, back, forehead, and cheeks. Don’t worry – it will slowly disappear.
3. Your newborn’s skin might also be coated with a greasy, cheese-like substance after delivery.
This is called, vernix, which protects the baby’s skin in the womb from amniotic fluid. The earlier a baby arrives, the more vernix will be left on the skin. Meanwhile, babies born late may have skin that’s wrinkled or peeling because they are left with little to no vernix to protect them. In some cases, it might take a day or two for vernix to be washed off completely.
4. It can take up to six months for newborns to develop their permanent skin tone.
As mentioned, your newborn’s skin color may take a while before showing its true colors. According to What to Expect, babies who are “destined to be dark-skinned are usually born with light skin – often a shade or two lighter than their color will end up.”
If you really want to know whether she’ll be fair-skinned or kayumanggi, What to Expect say some parents swear by looking at the ears for clues. “Check out the tops of your baby’s tiny ears and you’ll notice that they are darker than the rest of your newborn’s skin. There’s a good chance her skin will wind up being close to that color.”
5. Your newborn’s skin will feel bumpy, have blemishes, and look blotchy.
If you see white or yellow dots on your angel’s tiny face, particularly on her nose, cheeks, chin, and forehead, don’t panic. That’s called milia, and about 30 to 40 percent of babies are born with it. They are harmless and will typically disappear on their own within a few weeks, according to Mayo Clinic. And the bumps will not leave scars!
6. Newborn skin color will be affected by the temperature and the baby’s mood.
According to What to Expect your newborn’s skin is paper-thin and you’ll be able to see most of her blood vessels underneath. “When her blood boils – if she’s crying, say, or hot – her skin will turn pink and mottled right before your eyes. And when your baby’s cold, her feet and hands may actually turn blue."
If your baby gets cold easily, it is better to clothe her with additional layers for the first few months. After about a year, her skin will be thick enough to keep her naturally insulated, says What to Expect.
Can eating certain kinds of food affect baby’s complexion?
In an interview with SmartParenting.com.ph, celebrity mom Bettinna Carlos shared that when she was pregnant with her daughter, Gummy, she ate a lot of sour food to fight nausea. She adds, “Yun din ang dahilan kaya maputi ang anak ko.”
“I’m not very white, and the biological father is neither. Pero ang puti ng anak ko. Sabi ko, ‘Paano to nangyari?’ And the derma said it’s from all the vitamin C in my food,” Bettinna says.
There are a lot of myths surrounding pregnancy, and that includes choosing the food you eat so that your baby can have a fairer complexion. For example, in India, some people believe that drinking milk infused with saffron will give the baby fair skin, while in other cultures, it is believed that eating chocolate and other dark food will make your baby dark-skinned.
Newborn skin color or your baby’s skin tone is a result of genetics more than anything else. Being choosy about the food you eat should be because you want your baby to be happy and healthy, and not because you want to influence her skin color.
That being said, vitamin C is part of the essential vitamins a pregnant woman needs to keep herself and her baby healthy. According to Dr. Geraldine Mendoza, an obstetrician-gynecologist from the Makati Medical Center, vitamin C-rich food helps your body absorb iron, another nutrient needed to help your body prepare for the blood loss you will experience during childbirth.
Also, a daily dose of vitamin C is essential for tissue repair, wound healing, bone growth and repair, and healthy skin, according to BabyCenter. Vitamin C helps the body fight infection and it also acts as an antioxidant that protects your cells from damage. Some researchers also believe that a lack of vitamin C in newborn babies can affect mental development.
According to BabyCenter, for pregnant women age 18 and younger, it is recommended to get at least 80 milligrams (mg) per day of vitamin C. For those who are 19 and older, 85 mg per day is needed.
The best source of vitamin C is citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, and strawberries. It can also be found in leafy greens like broccoli and spinach and other vegetables like potatoes and red bell peppers.
Remember: Your newborn skin color may not be the pinkish, healthy glow you see in advertisements and movies at first, but make sure to capture all those newborn features because they are all fleeting. As your baby grows – and as she receives your love and care – she will slowly transform into the cutest little angel that you can’t get enough of!
How can you maintain a healthy weight while pregnant? Click here to learn how much weight you should gain for the whole duration of your pregnancy.