So you’re an expecting mom, and you’re excited to transition into all things baby and motherhood. You’ve read up on the latest trends and tips for baby clothes and equipment. You’ve picked your cool name. Designed your Pinterest-approved nursery. And now all that’s left is having your baby, and starting the *small* task of raising a tiny human. And you’re READY.
That is — you think you’re ready — until you get your baby home, and realize there are so many things that seem different than you expected about your perfect little angel. Why is her head shaped like this? Why is he not looking me directly in the eyes? And what is up with the twitching?!
Before you find yourself senselessly worrying, here are six things I have learned are NOT worth worrying about! (Even though worrying is normal in motherhood.)
1. Molded Head
When your baby is first born, it is normal for his or her head to be somewhat cone-shaped. This is not permanent; instead, it is called molding and will reshape after the first week. It can happen when a baby sits low in a mother’s pelvis during the end of the pregnancy, or from the gentle pressure baby’s head experiences when moving through the birth canal. The bones of a baby’s skull are still flexible with gaps in between in order to keep the head ready for delivery and future brain growth — which makes a molded head at delivery very common. And baby’s head can still reshape as long as he or she has a fontanelle (or soft spot), which typically closes by 18 months. So while their head is still looking less than round, focus on using adorable beanies or caps to accessorize their outfits!
2. Flat Spot
If your baby’s head continues to seem flatter in the back — a condition called plagiocephaly that seems to be on the rise since babies have been advised to lay on their backs for sleep — there are things a mom can do to help the head reshape and regain roundness. You can try rotating baby’s head to different sides as they sleep, putting objects of interest in different places while they lay so that they are not staying in the same spot continually, and encourage tummy time to give their head a break from lying flat.
If you feel their head seems like it is worsening, or if it seems they are having trouble turning their neck, talk to your pediatrician. In rare cases, a baby may need greater attention. But my pediatrician told me that those conditions are very rare, despite seeing many babies with helmets nowadays. Most of the time, the helmets are being worn for cosmetic reasons and not medical. In fact, if you start checking out other people’s heads, you may notice many people do not have perfectly round heads. And they are just fine.
3. Crossed Eyes
It is very normal to gaze into your newborn’s eyes and feel that they are looking two different ways back at you. The first time I saw this in my son, I was so worried. But then I asked my pediatrician and learned that there are two very common reasons their eyes can do this.
First, their eye muscles are uncoordinated just like the rest of their little bodies. And just like they can’t walk yet, they haven’t learned to use their eyes perfectly yet, either. Secondly, babies can also have extra skin on the inside of their eyes. This skin can give the appearance of crossed eyes. This lack of coordination can remain and be normal up until the three-month mark. If it continues past then, ask your pediatrician to take a look. But most likely, they will be looking you straight in the eyes before you know it!
So there’s always something new with every baby! And sure enough with my fourth son, I experienced my first round of leg tremors (or a weird twitching) when I would pick him up. It would not happen continuously, instead, it was sporadic. But when it would happen, his leg would vibrate for several seconds then stop. So I began to research more about it, and learned that leg tremors in infants are relatively common. Their newly developing neurological systems often oversend impulses to their muscles, which cause brief spasms in the leg or mouth. This is normal the first few months, and is only cause for concern when a baby’s leg does not stop trembling when it’s touched.
5. Hair Loss
Help! My baby had beautiful hair, and now he is bald! What happened? This is the story of my life. My babies are not born with much hair in the first place, but always seem to lose whatever hair they were born with around the one-month mark—leaving them looking like an old man with a receding hair line. And while this is not attractive at all, I have learned it is quite normal in the first sixth months!
It is called telogen effluvium and deals with hair being in a resting phase versus growth phase after birth due to hormonal changes. And when it does start growing in, don’t be surprised if the color and texture of your baby’s hair completely changes too! It’s kind of a fun game of ‘guess the baby’s real hair color’ that we like to play. Count yourself lucky if your baby is born with long locks and never loses them!
So you expect a teenager to have pimples, but you don’t expect your precious baby to end up with pimples on her face. If you become concerned that something is greatly wrong with your baby’s skin, worry no more. Some babies are prone to getting pimples around the two to three-week mark, as if they are having a teenage breakout. But it will go away.
It happens because mom’s hormones are circulating throughout their system, not their own. However, special pimple treatments are not recommended, nor is trying to pop them. Instead, keeping the face clean with simple soap and water is the best remedy. Or if you like natural remedies, try and squirt a little breastmilk on the area. By the 4 to 6 month mark, all pimples should naturally be cleared! And if for some reason it happens during their first photoshoot, ask your photographer to edit out those blemishes. There’s a reason newborn photographers love Photoshop!