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15 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Babies

Baby boy in skeleton costume
“Check out my extra bones!”

1. Babies are born with 300 bones.

That’s 94 more than adults. Where do the extra bones go? They fuse together during development.

mom changing baby's diaper the mom beat
Please note that diaper-changing will not always look this fun.

2. On average, a baby can go through between 2,000 and 2,200 diapers in their first year.

That’s A LOT of late-night trips to the baby aisle. And a lot of wipes! Also mind-boggling: newborns tend to pee every 20 minutes until their little bladders start to develop.

newborn in red hat
“Why, yes, I DO know the color of my hat!”

3. Infants first recognize the color red.

Some experts suggest newborns can only see black, white and grey, while others suggest they can see different hues, but they are incredible blurry. However, the first color infants recognize is red. The last colors? Blue and purple.

Unborn baby in walnut
“No, my tummy is the size of a walnut–I’m not supposed to be IN a walnut!”

4. Newborn stomachs are the size of a walnut by day 3.

That’s nuts! No wonder they require constant feedings. Their nut-sized tummy is usually enough to accommodate 0.5 to 1 ounce of liquids.

Tired mom laying on crib
“Maybe I’ll just take a nap right here.”

5. Babies deprive their parents of approximately 44 days of sleep.

And that’s only in the first year. Good thing they are so cute!

baby boy and baby girl
Fun fact: Male sperm are the best swimmers but female sperm live longer

6. Males are born more often than females.

Research over hundreds of years has consistently found that boys naturally outnumber girls at birth. The speculation is that this is nature’s way of countering the relatively high mortality rates of males, and creating more of a gender balance in the population.

Mom holds diapers.
But only the first one.

7. Their first poop doesn’t stink.

The black, tar-like stuff called meconium is made up of mucus, fluid from the womb, and anything else they digested while inside mom. But it doesn’t yet have the gut bacteria that make poop smelly. As soon as you start feeding a baby, bacteria will start colonizing their intestines. After a day or so, bowel movements become green, yellow, or brown — with that oh-so-familiar odor.

Girl looks at baby brother
“Hey, little brother, just making sure you’re still breathing!”

8. Sometimes infants stop breathing.

Sometimes when they’re sleeping, babies may pause without a breath for 5 to 10 seconds — just enough time to make a new mom or dad panic. Irregular breathing is normal. (But if your baby stops breathing for a longer time or turns blue, it’s a medical emergency.) When babies are excited or after crying, they may take more than 60 breaths in a minute.

baby drinking milk
“Mmmmm…sweet.”

9. Their tonsils have taste buds.

Although a baby has about the same number of taste sensors as kids and younger adults, they cover more areas, including the tonsils and the back of the throat. A newborn can taste sweet, bitter, and sour, but not salty (until around 5 months). It’s a matter of survival: Breast milk is sweet, while bitter and sour may be harmful. When they start on solid food, they’ll tend to like the same things mom ate while pregnant and breastfeeding.

baby crying in knitted hat
Also true: Babies look cuter crying when wearing a tiny knitted hat.

10. They cry without tears, at first.

Babies start crying around 2-3 weeks, but tears don’t show up until they’re about a month old. Late afternoon and early evening are prime fussing time. Often, it’s for no reason, and nothing you do will help.

“Peak crying” is around 46 weeks after gestation, or age 6-8 weeks for full-term babies, according to WebMD. After 3 months, the storm has usually passed. (Preemies tend to be older, since they were born early.)

baby girl in dad's hands
“Say what?”

11. Newborns have breasts.

When they’re first born, both boys and girls can look like they have small breasts. These may even leak milk! Don’t squeeze them, however. They form because babies absorb estrogen from mom, and they’ll usually go away within a few weeks. Baby girls could also have a mini period or vaginal discharge that lasts a few days.

baby sleeping in crib
“To the right, to the right…”

12. They like to face right.

Only 15 percent of newborns prefer to turn their head left when lying on their back. It seems to be related to a gene, like having dimples. This bias lasts for a few months, and it may help explain why more people are right-handed, too.

baby reading book
“Using my brain cells, yo!”

13. They have more of certain brain cells.

Although a baby’s brain will get bigger — more than doubling in size the first year — it already has most of the nerve cells that carry electrical messages. Many of these neurons won’t get replaced as they die, so adults have fewer of them. The connections between cells get “trimmed” as babies get older, which helps them focus but also cuts back on creativity.

surprised baby boy themombeat
“It’s normal!”

14. Baby boys get erections.

It often happens just before they pee. (Consider it your warning to take cover during a diaper change!) We don’t know exactly why, but it’s nothing to be worried or ashamed about. You might even see one on an ultrasound, before they are born.

His penis may look large at birth, and that’s normal, too. Their hormones and mom’s play a role, as well as bruising and swelling from the birth process.

baby with birthmarks
“I’m cute no matter what.”

Some birthmarks will disappear.

“Stork bites” or “angel kisses” (a pink or red area often on the forehead, eyelids, bridge of the nose, or back of the neck) and Mongolian spots (flat, bluish patches that look like ink stains on the back or bottom) usually fade within a few years. We don’t know what causes them.

A bright-red raised “strawberry” hemangioma comes from fast-growing blood vessels. These birthmarks appear over several weeks and can take years to go away.

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