Neonates At Birth

Looks of neonates at birth often shatters the imagination of the parents. Without a realistic preparation, a new mother may well be shocked by the physical appearance of her offspring.

However, parental instinct gives most parents the extraordinary capacity to accept the baby as she is, but sometimes it could be a cause of great shock.

Just after the birth, a neonate very rarely resembles the chubby rose cheek picture that we associate with the newborns.
Do not be disheartened. This is only a very short transitional phase.
Your dream picture will soon emerge.

Have Questions? Click here and Post them - It's Free

What to expect?

Newborn babies have a big head, practically no neck, slightly protruding prominent abdomen with umbilical cord in the centre and short limbs.

Their skin is wrinkled often in somewhat loose folds with slightly bluish discoloration of the extremities.

They are wet, covered in streaks of blood, and coated with a white sticky cheese like substance, known as “vernix caseosa”.

Have a Question? Ask the Expert and Get the Answer for Free

Vernix caseosa

Vernix caseosa is a Latin name where vernix means varnish and caseosa means cheesy. Have a look at a neonate with vernix caseosa.

Benefits of vernix caseosa

  • Moisturizing the fetus's skin

  • Protects baby's skin from ill effects of the constituents in amniotic fluid.

  • Lubricant effect: Facilitates passage through the birth canal.

  • Serves to conserve heat.

  • Believed to possess antibacterial effect by being a physical barrier to the passage of bacteria.

How can vernix caseosa be removed?

  • Most of the vernix caseosa gets wiped on to the baby’s linen.

  • Some of it melts away and some is believed to be absorbed by the skin within 8 hours of birth.

  • For aesthetic reasons it is often wiped or washed off.
    It is most easily wiped off by cotton soaked in oil.

    1.) Cleans the baby

    2.) Protects the skin from atmospheric effects of drying

    3.) Prevents newborn's body heat loss and gives time for the body temperature to get stabilized.

Post-term newborn infants characteristically have little or no vernix caseosa. Consequently, the skin of postmature neonates gets dry, cracked and wrinkled. It may also show areas of peeling.

Severe degree of peeling suggests an inherited disorder:
"Ichthyosis Congenital", which demands medical management.

Liked what you read just now? Pay it forward!

Have Questions? Click here and Post them - It's Free

Lanugo hair

Some babies have hairy body at birth. These fine textured hair are called “Lanugo Hair” - see a picture here. (Opens new window)

They are particularly noticeable over the shoulders, back of thighs, forehead, ears and sometimes even on the face. It could be a very disturbing site for the mother, but it is only a very normal transitional phase of development.

The fine fur is seen more often on the babies that are born before term as it is a normal feature during the intrauterine life.

Vellus hair

The lanugo hair are usually shed and replaced at the maturity of the fetus by vellus hair, which are short, fine, light-colour, and barely noticeable hair that develops on the body from the childhood.

If tufts of hair are noted over the lower (lumbosacral) spine, it calls for medical attention. This could be a sign of an underlying abnormality such as occult spina bifida, a sinus tract, or a tumour.

Mongolian spots

Another cause for parents to get startled at the site of their neonate is the presence of large bluish grey or pinkish purple blotches on the skin:
Mongolian Spots - see the picture here. (opens new window)

They are most commonly located on the lower back and the buttocks, but can occur anywhere on neonate’s body. They may be single or many. They vary in shape and size - from few millimetres to several centimeters.


More than 90 percent of black, 81 percent of Asians, and 10 percent of white babies are born with Mongolian spots, boys and girls being equally predisposed to the condition.

Why do babies develop Mongolian spots?

The Mongolian spots are the result of abnormal collection of pigment cells in the deeper layer of the skin, the dermis. They can be mistaken for bruises.

They are the result of innocent development disorder at embryonic stage of cells migration.

What is the impact of Mongolian spots on child health?

The spots are harmless. Despite the name Mongolian spots, they have no known effect on childhood development, cognitive capabilities or
psychosocial development.

What is the treatment for Mongolian spots?

  • No treatment of any kind is indicated.

  • They disappear on their own as the child grows.

  • Most disappear by 12-16 months of age, but some may take 3-4 years.

If the Mongolian spots do not disappear till after the fifth birthday, a dermatologist’s consultation should be sought.


Milia are 1-2millimeter whitish pearls seen on the skin of the face of 40 percent of full term newborns.

Why do Milia occur?

They occur when superficial dead skin becomes trapped in small pockets of sebaceous apparatus of vellus hair at the surface of the skin.


They are sparsely scattered on nose, cheeks, forehead and chin. Rarely Milia may occur in unusual sites, such as on arms, legs or the foreskin.
To see the picture of Milia click here. (opens new window).

What is the treatment for Milia?

  • Milia do not need any treatment.

  • They disappear on their own.

  • The time they take to disappear is variable; usually it is few weeks.

  • They do not leave any lasting effects.

  • Milia larger than 2 millimeter should be medically evaluated to rule out any underlying disorder.

Epstein’s Pearls

  • Epstein's pearls are Milia that occur in the mucosal layer of the mouth.

  • They are tiny cysts seen in about 85 percent of newborns.

  • They are found on the gums and the palate.

  • Usually occur in groups of firm, movable and opaque white pearls.

  • They are self limited, but may take several months to resolve.

  • Have a look at Epstein's pearl on newborn's gum. - opens new window.

Surely you have many questions.
Post your questions at "Newborn Care Forum ". It is Free. No Log-in required.

The Neonates related pages: Also browse on right column of the page.

Baby Blues

Infant Bonding

Jaundice in Newborns

Post GBS Meningitis Seizures

Birth Hypoxia in Newborn Baby

Macrosomia: Large for Gestational Age IDM

IVF and Child Health: Parents Need to Know

Overriding of Sutures of the skull Bones

Effects of childbirth on Newborn Health

Effect of Vacuum Assisted Caesarean Section (LSCS) Delivery on the Baby

Newborn Growth Influences Child Health

Newborn Crying and Consolability

Child of Rage

Colic in Newborn Babies

Constipation in Infancy

Exposure to Mold in Pregnancy: Does It Affect The Baby?

Passive Smoking Endangers Infants' Health

Newborn Sleep Pattern, Posture and State of Alertness

Parenting newborns: Full of Challenges and Gratifications

Newborn Nursing Answers Newborn Care Concerns

Newborn Jitteriness, Twitching and Siezures

Post Micturition Convulsion Syndrome

Liked what you read just now? Pay it forward!

Can't find answer to your concern? Search the site! 

Click Here to Post your Questions: It's Free

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.
Child Health Explanation

Child Health Explanation

Home Page

Child Health Explanation

Follow Me on Pinterest

XML RSSChild Health Blog Feeds
  • follow us in feedly
  • Add to My Yahoo!
  • Add to My MSN
  • Subscribe with Bloglines

FREE Monthly Zine

First Name

Don't worry — your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you Child Health Chat.

Liked what you just read?
Pay It Forward!

Affiliate Products

Related Pages

Neonates at birth

What to expect?

Vernix Caseosa

Lanugo Hair

Mongolian Spots


Epstein's Pearls

Childbirth affects Newborn Health

Head Molding

Overriding of sutures

Caput succeedaneum


Birth cry

Birth injuries

Birth Hypoxia


Large for gestational age

Factors that influence birth weight

Impaired fetal growth - IUGR

Effect of Vacuum Assisted LSCS (Caesarean) on the Baby

IVF and Child Health

Parenting Newborns

Psychological preparation for motherhood

Postpartum depression

Postpartum Psychosis

Mother-child bonding

Talk to your baby

Newborn sleep pattern

Effects of maternal deprivation

Infant Bonding

Baby Blues

Newborn Nursing

Newborn body temperature

Vital signs

Body weight

Length & Head circumference

Urine & Meconium

Breast milk stools




Umbilical cord care

Care of baby’s extra-genitals

Bathing a newborn

Exposure to Mold in Pregnancy: Does It Affect The Baby?

Newborn Growth

Gestational age related newborn growth groups

Birth weight related newborn growth groups

Physical statistics of normal newborns

Newborn growth velocity

Weight gain

Body length

Head circumference

Depression during Pregnancy

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Liked what you just read?
Pay It Forward!

Jaundice in Newborns

Overriding of Skull Bone Sutures

Crying & Consolability

Why Newborns Cry

Indications for Medical Attention


Child of Rage

Newborn Sleep Related Dilemmas

Newborn Sleeping Posture

Newborn’s State of Alertness

Tobacco Hinders Breastfeeding 

Colic in Newborn Babies

What is infantile colic?

Causes of infantile colic

How can colic be relived?

Causes of Frequent Urination

Constipation in Infancy

Shivering After Urination

Facial Tics or Subtle Seizures?

Post GBS Meningitis Seizures

Jitteriness In Newborns


Neonatal seizures

Twitching in newborns

Infant with Gastroesophageal Reflux & Dystonia gets Ankle Clonus

Effects of Passive Smoking

Newborn Care Forum - FREE

Ask & Answer Your Concerns On Newborn Care

Get Pregnant: Conceiving after Abortion

Affiliate Products

Portals to Post

Ask Doc Your Concerns

Q & A on Newborn Care

Parenting Tips

Childhood Creativity

Taste Buds Tickling Recipes

Teenage Tussles

Child Health News

Guest Post Submission

Your child's milestones

Happy with child health care?

What age should schooling start?

Liked what you just read?
Pay It Forward!

Post & Explore Books

Books for children

Author's book reviews

Reader's book reviews

Affiliate Products