We all have unique genetic identifiers that help us differentiate one person from the other, be it the shape of our eyes, the length of our nose or the fullness of our lips. Each trait can become an utterly individualized marker that people use to colour you. This, however, is not the case at birth.
What Your Baby Looks Like in the First Moment?
What a newborn looks like can be completely different from how the baby would look at a slightly more advanced age. It is because the baby does not have fully developed genetic markers to help create unique identifiers. During the initial days, your baby will have a big head with a tiny torso, no neck, and small limbs. They eventually develop into normal proportions.
1. What will Your Baby’s Head be Like?
When they’re just born, all newborns have big heads. This changes with time as the body becomes more proportionate. With age, their brain, eyes, nose, cheeks, chin, and lips – all begin to develop unique characteristics. The exact shape of your newborn’s head could be abnormal at the precise moment of delivery depending on the circumstance of the birth. For example: your baby could have a cone-shaped head if you had a standard vaginal delivery due to the amount of pressure spent in pushing through a vaginal birth, this could change if you had a C-section, the baby’s head in this circumstance could be misshaped due to the tools used in assisting with the delivery. The good news is the head itself begins to morph into a regular shape within the first week.
Often babies have little soft spots on the skull, known as fontanelles. These fontanelles help your baby squeeze through the birth canal. There are two fontanelles commonly found in newborns:
- The smaller posterior fontanelle is located on the back of the baby’s head and is triangular.
- The anterior fontanelle which is the larger one is found on the top of the baby’s head and is diamond-shaped.
2. Your Baby’s Private Parts
If you have a boy, he may have swollen testicles at birth. It is normal and happens due to the pressure applied during delivery and the exposure to your hormones. If it is a girl, you may notice some vaginal bleeding, swollen breasts and white discharge from the nipples. Hormones cause all these and are completely normal. Squeezing the discharge out of your body could cause an infection and hormonal imbalances.
3. Baby’s Face and Complexion
In the first moments, babies will have swollen eyes and face, they have lips that are pink, and their hands and legs can appear pale. All this is because the delivery of a child is a physically traumatic experience. The swollen eyes and face are indications of this trauma, while the white or blue palms and feet are due to the immature circulatory system which depended on an external source of circulation when they used to reside in your belly.
The pink lips are indications of the circulation maturing and indicate that in a few hours, your baby will have regular blood flow.
4. How Will Your Baby’s Legs Be?
As mentioned above, the moment after the birth the baby’s arms and legs can be white or blue. However, the blood circulation will return to normal within the next few hours, and this will ensure that the colour of the arms and legs back to an average complexion.
Newborns have bow-shaped legs. This is because the development of the baby’s legs is morphed to let the baby grow in your womb. This will fix itself slowly over the next couple of years and look more like an adult’s leg shape by the time your child is two years old. If the gap between your child’s legs is too much or does not seem to be reduced, then consult your primary care physician.
5. What Will Your Baby’s Skin Be Like?
Depending on when your baby is born the type of skin they have at birth varies. This includes the thickness or the type of fluid covering it.
- Premature babies have a fine hair like substance covering the skin called lanugo in large quantities. They also have an element that is white and greasy looking called vernix covering the skin. This substance protects the skin from the mother’s amniotic fluid in the womb. The baby’s skin is almost transparent.
- Babies delivered on time usually have very little vernix on the body, or in-between the folds of their bodies right after delivery, they also have less lanugo than premature babies but more than babies delivered late.
- Babies delivered late may have a slightly wrinkled look to their skin, they also would have no lanugo covering their bodies and no vernix anywhere on their body.
6. Will Your Newborn Baby have Hair?
Whether a newborn has hair or not depends on the genetics of the parents and the mother’s hormones. A baby can be born with a full head of hair, or they can also be born bald. The hair your baby has at birth has extremely little to do with the kind of hair they will have later in life. Do not panic if your baby is born bald or even begins to lose hair in the first six months, this is normal. Most babies will lose hair within the first six months after delivery.
7. What Will Your Newborn Baby’s Eyes Look Like?
Your baby is a mix of various genes, contrary to popular belief it isn’t only based on the baby’s parents, a newborn’s eyes can be inherited from any blood relative from either side of the family.
It is highly likely, however, that your baby will inherit either your eyes or your spouse’s eyes.
Factors Behind the Look of Your Baby
An important point to note is that your baby will inherit multiple physical attributes from various people within their gene pool and blood relatives. This is what makes them unique. Your child could very well inherit your spouse’s eyes, your nose, your father’s lips, your mother’s ears, your father-in-law’s forehead, etc.
Functionality of Genetics
Every human being has a total of 46 chromosomes that make up our DNA. This consists of sixty to one hundred thousand genes. A majority of these genes are inherited from our family. Your DNA is a practical guide to your roots; your genetic history can date back millennia.
The function of genes is to help humanity evolve. Your genes can act like a sponge and soak information that is passed onto your baby.
DNA or genetics are critical for human development and have polygenic features. This means they are not like other animals like fruit flies where one dominant gene rules the structure and development of the body but instead work in unison with the near 64 trillion combinations of the 100 genes within our bodies. This is what makes humanity unpredictable and also aids in the species’ quick development and evolution. In fact, some sources say that most human traits and features are polygenic, multiple combinations of genes acting together to provide a unique result. These include:
- Your baby’s height.
- Your baby’s metabolism.
- Your baby’s hair growth and colour.
- Your baby’s eyes.
What will Your Child Look Like?
A significant part of genetics is how your DNA shapes your appearance. What makes your newborn unique is all the combinations of their genes will help them grow and resemble both their parents.
1. Eye Colour
Your baby’s eye colour is a trait that is polygenic. This means that even if both parents have dark brown eyes, your baby still could have light brown or green eyes. Don’t be alarmed if your baby has different eyes from either parent, this is rare but is also considered a unique trait.
Eye colour is primarily determined by how much brown pigment or melanin your baby inherits. If your baby has dark eyes, then the melanin is high whereas if they are blue, it means the melanin is quite low. Other colours like hazel, emerald or different shades of green have differing amounts of melanin.
The eye colour also depends on how the melanin is placed in your eyes, and how close to the iris it is. The colour of the iris is also dependent on the melanin in your genes. The final consideration to take into account is how these numerous genes behave in a polygenic manner to give colour to your eyes.
2. Hair Colour
Similar to the eyes, the hair is also a polygenic trait. Also, similar to the eyes, the hair can on rare occasions be different from both parents due to the way these genes behave. It is entirely normal for a baby to have brown hair despite both parents having black hair. It is believed that dark hair is more common and dominant over the lighter types of hair.
Your baby’s hair colour is usually a different shade from your partner’s and your hair colours, this, however, can differ on rare occasions. In fact, on occasions, your baby has chances of having hair that is in your gene pool but hasn’t been seen for over multiple generations. This is due to a dormant gene in one parent’s family called a recessive gene.
For example, if you have a recessive gene for red hair and your partner either has red hair or shares a similar recessive gene then your baby could have red hair. If you both have different recessive genes for different colours later on rare occasions your baby could have a tone that is a combination of both.
3. Physical Features
Through the generations, your baby’s physical features are known to have filtered down and refined themselves. Genetically your baby can inherit features like:
- A dimple
- Crooked teeth
- Hand and finger shape
- A prominent chin or other salient facial features
- Gap teeth
For a better understanding of your baby’s features examine family photographs. Usually, there are similar features in one of the parent’s family trees.
Genetics is unpredictable and so is the height of your child. The most accepted calculation is the average height of both parents plus 2 inches for boys and minus 2inches for girls, for example, if you are 5’8 and your partner is 5 feet tall, the average height is 5’4 so for a boy the expected height would be 5’6 and a girl would be 5’2. There are external factors to this growth, however, like nutrition or predisposing conditions like asthma or diabetes. There is no foolproof method to predict your child’s height as no equation is completely accurate.
This is a difficult thing to measure, although genes to play a part in weight gain or loss it is impossible to tell if your child will be built in any particular manner. The risk of obesity is higher if one or both parents are obese but other factors like family eating habits or the child’s nutritional chart play a much bigger role in the baby’s weight than genetics do.
6. Special Abilities
The predisposed talent of a child could be due to abilities and skills of the parent, for instance, a child who has a parent who can throw a ball very far may also be able to do the same. This, however, is somewhat limited to the exposure of the child. For example, if a parent has a creative gene or has developed a skill like pottery, even if your child has a talent for it, they will need exposure and practice to hone that skill.
It is believed that talents can be developed by exposing children who have genes to various activities at an early age. Under the right kind of encouragement and exposure, a child can replicate if not develop a skill without having the genes for it.
7. Will Baby Look Like Dad or Mom?
Your baby inherits genes from not just your partner or you but your entire family tree. If your child looks more like you than your partner, it means that your genes were predominantly inherited by the child and combined in a similar way that it did with you. Your baby can also wind up not looking like either of you despite inheriting genes predominant to one of you as the combination of polygenic traits could behave differently.
There is no concrete equation on who your baby will take after.
Genes and genetics play a huge role in the physical and mental development of your child. While human genes are complicated and hard to predict, they still play an immense part in your child’s life.