Newborn Baby’s Skin Color: What It Means

New parents often discuss their offsprings’ skin color during pregnancy when they have different colors, races, and ancestry. They often decide that the parent with the strongest trait can pass on their skin color to their baby and expect such at birth. To their surprise, the baby arrives with yellowish, bluish, reddish, or purple skin color and a few more skin imperfections.

Babies arrive with less-than-perfect skin that appears hairy, oily, have pimples, weird marks, and a strange color, unlike their parents and siblings. Changes to skin color happen in the first few months of life, and these can be caused by many things from the food you took during pregnancy to moods and internal complications. Newborn skin color also changes when babies cry, have a fever or during a bowel movement.

It is crucial for new parents to know which skin colors are normal among newborns as well as anything else that appears on their skin. Education is important to save a baby’s life if skin color changes show as symptoms of an underlying illness. So, what exactly does your baby’s skin come out like and how long before your baby’s true skin type and color start to show?

Skin Colors Overview

  • Red- Normal at birth but will fade in the first 24 hours
  • Pink– Sign of good blood and oxygen circulation.
  • Purple– Normal at birth but should turn bright red with baby’s first breaths.
  • Blue– Normal at birth on hands and feet but should fade in a few days. Constant bluishness and blue lips can be a sign of illness.
  • Yellow– Appears at birth or in the first month of life. Symptoms of an organ malfunction will need treatment.

A Newborn’s Appearance

Regardless of race, all babies are born with reddish-purple skin. As your baby takes her first breath, her red complexion will get darker. In a few days, the redness will gradually tone down to a pinkish hue.

Your newborn baby’s hands and feet may also appear bluish. As he breathes in more oxygen, the blue tinge should fade away. Later we will discuss how a blue skin color should serve as a warning to parents.

Another skin color of concern is yellowness. Most babies develop some yellow hue on their skin in the first few days of life.

The yellowish tint should fade away on its own in a couple of months. Again, there are symptoms you should watch out for to make sure your yellowish baby is in good health.

Other features that appear on a newborn’s skin include:

  • VERNIX CASEOSA

    Your baby’s skin needed protection from amniotic fluid while in the womb. She can be born with this skin coating called vernix. It is thick and greasy like a cheese-like substance or white layer. After your baby’s first or second bath, the vernix caseosa should be completely gone.

  • LANUGO

    Some newborn baby’s come out with more hair than others, and it goes beyond their crowning glory. Her skin may be covered in some fine hair known as lanugo.Preemies are most likely to be born with lanugo which should disappear in the first month.

  • DESQUAMATION

    If you give birth past your due date, you can expect skin will be peeling with your baby. Many full-term babies are also born with peeling skin which is normal and should peel off on its own as your baby’s skin regenerates. Never attempt to peel away her old skin to avoid hurting your baby so just let it do its thing.

  • SCRATCHES, RED MARKS, AND SPECKS OF BLOOD

    Your newborn baby can appear with scratches on his face and red marks or bruises on his body. Petechiae or specks of blood can also be seen on a newborn’s body which are small blood vessels in the skin that leaked during labor. All of these happen when your baby squeezes through the birth canal. These should heal and disappear completely by the first week or up to 2 weeks of life.

Baby’s Delicate Skin

Your baby is born with very thin skin that you can see her veins underneath her skin. Layers of clothing can protect your baby from sunburn as their skin can burn fast.

As a rule of thumb, dress your newborn in one layer more than you are wearing and always dress him with a cap, mittens, and socks.

It is also essential that you bathe your newborn in water that feels lukewarm to your elbow (between 90 to 100 degrees F).

Babies can easily scald in warm water, which can be more painful and dangerous to them than a sunburn. Bathing your newborn in the wrong temperature can also result in darkening of her skin.

Mottled Skin

If a reddish skin is not enough for you to worry, then patchy and blotchy skin will surely scare first-time parents. You may be surprised if we tell you that this marble-like skin should not cause you stress.

This occurrence in her skin is more noticeable when you change your baby’s clothes, and she gets cold. It can also happen when your baby is hot with fever or when she is crying.

However, mottling can be dangerous when it is accompanied by fever. You should seek medical attention right away as mottling with high temperature can mean:

  • Virus infection
  • Meningitis
  • Dehydration

Blue Skin

It is normal to give birth to a baby with blue hands or feet. As your baby’s blood circulation improves, the blueness should go away. You may also notice the area around his mouth can have a slight blue tinge.

Sometimes, when babies cry hard, their face and lips can turn almost purple. When the blueness on his hands and feet comes and goes while the rest of his body is pinkish, there is no need to worry.

​What doctors do not consider normal is having a blue hue all over his body. Doctors pay special attention to areas that should have a lot of blood flow. Blue lips, tongue, or genitalia can help doctors diagnose cyanosis. In such cases, your baby could have:

  • HEART DEFECT

    You may have heard of blue babies as those with heart problems making their skin color blue. Oxygen is carried to all our organs through the bloodstream. When the heart strains itself to pump oxygenated blood, your baby’s skin will turn blue from the lack of oxygen.

  • BREATHING DIFFICULTIES

    Oxygen is necessary to make blood red. Without oxygen, our blood cells will remain blue, and this should show through on the skin. If your baby’s lungs lack oxygen, he will have trouble breathing, and his skin will be blue-tinged.

  • POOR BLOOD FLOW

    When the blue, oxygen-deprived blood flows through the veins slowly, blueness becomes more noticeable.

Yellow Skin

More than 50% of newborns start to have yellowish skin and eyes in the first week of life. Turning yellow is common among premature babies. Also known as jaundice, the yellowish hue should be a temporary response to a developing body, but it can also be a symptom of liver malfunction and other illnesses.

Babies who develop jaundice can become irritable and have feeding problems. Medical attention is highly advised. The failure of the liver to fully develop on its own will require treatment such as:

  • Phototherapy
  • Blood Transfusions
  • Hospitalization

There are several known causes as to why babies turn yellow. Knowing what caused your baby’s yellowish hue can determine whether or not your baby will need medical treatment:

  • PHYSIOLOGIC JAUNDICE

    When old red blood cells break down in the body, hemoglobin converts into the yellow-colored bilirubin, which the liver should eliminate. A newborn’s liver still needs to fully-develop outside the womb, which can affect how fast the liver does its job removing bilirubin from the body. As a result, the amount of bilirubin builds up in the blood in a condition known as hyperbilirubinemia.

  • BREASTFEEDING JAUNDICE

    Some breastfed babies develop jaundice in the first two to three weeks of life. Her jaundice can last until she is three months. Experts say that breast milk promotes enterohepatic circulation or the reabsorption of bilirubin via the intestinal tract.

  • FAILURE TO BREASTFEED

    When mothers fail to initiate breastfeeding, their babies can get dehydrated resulting in lesser urine and stool production as well as the accumulation of bilirubin. Preemies are more susceptible to breastfeeding failure jaundice due to weakness and lack of coordination.

  • HEMOLYSIS

    Babies born with too many red blood cells can have a hemolytic or Rh disease-causing jaundice. Internal bleeding can also cause jaundice.

  • INFECTION

    The normal excretion process of bilirubin done by the liver can be affected when your baby has an infection or other medical illnesses.

Baby Acne

3 out of 10 newborn babies are born with baby acne. It can take between days to months for baby acne to clear out. Medical experts are still debating about why babies get pimples, but there are several theories based on common experiences:Enter your text here…

  • HORMONES

    Women experience a lot of hormonal changes during pregnancy, labor, and post-birth. These hormone secretions can reach the baby in the womb. If you experienced hormonal acne during your pregnancy or thereafter, you could expect your baby to have acne due to your maternal hormones. Breastmilk can also contain those acne-producing hormones.

  • YEAST

    This may sound icky, but some experts believe that yeast can thrive on your baby’s skin and cause baby acne. Doctors point to Malassezia species of yeast for causing baby acne. The fungus from this yeast is said to occur on an infant’s skin naturally and that some babies are more sensitive to it and breakout.

  • CHEMICALS AND FRAGRANCES

    A newborn baby’s skin is thin and delicate. The use of baby products with chemicals and fragrances can harm your baby in many ways including baby acne. Even as you treat baby acne, consider using hypoallergenic, organic, and fragrance-free products for your baby.

  • PROBIOTIC IMBALANCE

    A newborn baby’s digestive system is still finding the right balance of good bacteria to maintain healthy digestion. Some medical experts believe that an imbalance of probiotics in a baby’s tummy is the reason why babies get pimples.

Milia

It is easy to confuse milia with baby acne because it looks almost the same. The difference is that milia come with no redness, unlike pimples. Milia is caused by dead skin cells caught in the pores of the skin and is not itchy. Also, these look more like whiteheads and can also appear in the gums.

Rashes

Babies can get rashes due to heat, sensitivity to chemicals, and medicine reaction among other things. More often than not, baby rashes do not hurt your baby unless it becomes infected or comes as a result of an underlying illness.

In case the rashes are accompanied by fever, colds, coughing, or swollen neck glands, take your baby to the doctor right away. Here are several types of rashes every new parent should know:

  • DIAPER RASH

    We all know that prolonged contact with urine and poo can irritate your baby’s nappy area, but wet wipes with fragrances and chemicals can also cause nappy rash too. Frequent nappy changes and calendula can help avoid this but avoid talcum powder and antiseptics. However, if the rash becomes severe, it can be a sign of a fungal infection. Also, seek medical advice if the baby’s rash spreads to other parts of the body.

  • CRADLE CAP

    This dandruff-looking greasy scalp rash is common among newborn babies especially those born past their due date. It is a result of sebum buildup making the skin cells on the scalp stick together instead of normally shedding. Cradle cap can also appear on the neck, nappy area or the underarms. Petroleum jelly or mineral oil can help loosen cradle cap which should take weeks to months to clear out.

  • ERYTHEMA TOXICUM

    There are variations to this blotchy red skin reaction also known as flea bites. It can appear as small bumps on the face or as flat patches on the chest, back, arms, and face. It appears on the first week of life and is non-contagious and harmless.

  • ERYTHEMA MULTIFORME

    This type of rash is triggered by illness, an infection, or adverse effects to medication. The red spots start to show on your baby’s hands and feet and quickly spread to the rest of the body in a day or two. These spots are non-contagious although your baby can feel listless and have a fever before the outbreak. Erythema multiforme should go away in three to six weeks without treatment.

  • PRICKLY HEAT RASH

    Hot weather can give babies red and itchy rashes on their face, neck, and body. Do your best to give your baby a climate-controlled environment. Heat rash should go away in 3 days just by cooling your baby down.

  • BABY CHICKEN SKIN

    Medically known as keratosis pilaris, these are goosebump-like rashes that appear on thighs, upper arms, cheeks, and bottoms. It is non-contagious and should not be itchy.

  • RINGWORM

    Contrary to its name, ringworm is not caused by worms. It is a mild fungal infection that appears as rings of red rashes all over the body, in particular, the feet, scalp, and groin. It is also contagious and needs treatment with an antifungal cream such as Lamisil or Lotrimin.

  • ECZEMA

    These dry, cracked, and red rashes that often appear on elbows and knees are often very itchy and inflamed. It can start to appear in the first months of life and is a long-term skin condition that can be triggered by certain food and skincare products. Treatment with a corticosteroid cream is necessary.

  • ROSEOLA INFANTUM

    These pink rashes appear all over the body right following high fever. A viral infection, it is contagious before the rashes start to show. It can take up to 5 days for the rashes to clear out. However, the high fever can drive your baby to a febrile convulsion so you should seek medical attention.

  • MENINGITIS RASH

    Infected babies will appear blue, pale, or yellow and can develop a pinprick rash which resembles purple bruises. The tumbler test is an effective way to confirm meningitis rash. If you can see the rashes through the glass, it’s time to seek medical intervention.

  • HIVES

    Baby hives are often an allergic reaction to food whether ingested or comes in contact with the baby’s skin. It is often itchy, red, and raised. You can apply a cold compress or an anti-itch cream, but it should disappear without treatment in a couple of days.

  • HAND, FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE

    As the name suggests, this rash can appear like scabs on these areas of the body as well as the nappy area. It can take a week to ten days to go away, but it is highly contagious. Proper hygiene is a must to keep rashes at bay.

Birthmarks

Those skin spots that appear at birth or shortly after are harmless, non-cancerous, and should fade in time. In some cases, birthmarks are hereditary or caused by some gene mutation, although in most cases, it is unique to your baby.

Some birthmarks are permanent, and if they occur on parts of the body that can cause embarrassment or difficulty leading a normal life, it can be removed through several treatments. Some birthmarks need to be monitored because they may turn cancerous.

Birthmarks can appear anywhere on the body from the face, limbs, and body to the back and nappy area. Birthmarks vary in size, shape, and color.

Some cultures believe that food cravings during pregnancy are the reasons why babies come out with birthmarks. There is no scientific evidence of this myth, and the real reason why birthmarks occur is still unknown.

You may choose several birthmark removal procedures in case the birthmark shows signs of harm or embarrassment. In some cases, surgery may be necessary and cause scarring.

​Laser therapy during infancy can be the most successful way to remove a birthmark, but injected corticosteroids and beta-blockers can also help shrink the birthmark in size.

PIGMENTED BIRTHMARKS

An overabundance of a certain type of pigment in any particular part of the body can lead to birthmarks. Some known pigmented birthmarks include:

  • MOLES

    Also known as congenital nevi (possibly cancerous) or pigmented nevi (non-cancerous), moles are considered birthmarks when they appear at birth. Babies can be born with black, light brown or pink moles that appear flat or raised, but it is always round in shape.

    Light-colored moles go away as your baby grows while others stay for life and can even darken due to sun exposure, in adolescence, during pregnancy or as a result of taking birth control pills. In the case of congenital nevi moles, a biopsy may be necessary as these spots can get bigger, painful, itchy, inflamed, or ulcerated and develop into skin cancer.

  • MONGOLIAN BLUE SPOTS

    Some babies look like they have a bruise on their butt or lower back. These bluish-gray spots can be Mongolian spots which are non-painful and harmless. Most Mongolian spots disappear by age five, but if it is still there by the teenage years, it’s likely to remain for good. It is also known to be common among babies with darker skin.

  • CAFÉ AU LAIT SPOTS

    The name of these spots translates in French as coffee with milk, which is what these spots resemble. Darker-skinned babies will have darker spots while lighter-skinned babies will have spots that are a pale brown. These spots can get larger as your baby grows but should fade in the childhood years. If your baby has more than one of these on his body, he could have a rare medical condition known as neurofibromatosis.

VASCULAR BIRTHMARKS

Extra blood cells can clump together on any part of your newborn baby’s body and result in a birthmark. This type of birthmark appears in 4 out of 10 newborn babies.

  • STORK BITE MARKS

    Also known as a salmon patch or nevus simplex, these birthmarks show up on 1 out of 3 newborn babies. It is pink and flat, often seen on a newborn’s nose, forehead, upper eyelids, or behind the neck. These should fade between eighteen months to your baby’s second year. Babies with fair complexions are most likely to be born with a stork bite mark.

  • HEMANGIOMAS

    Also known as strawberry hemangiomas or cherry hemangiomas, these spots are usually found on the head or neck of a newborn baby and can appear bright red, pink or blue. These birthmarks appear small at birth and get larger and more pronounced as your baby grows. Hemangiomas often disappear by adolescence although at times it remains as a pale mark. Treatments are necessary if these spots interfere with vision, breathing, or are found internally.

  • PORT WINE STAINS

    Also known as nevus flammeus, these spots appear pink or red at birth and later turn purple or dark red. It is a result of an abnormal formation of small blood vessels underneath the skin, do not fade over time, and can get darker without treatment. Your baby’s skin can also appear thick, dry, and pebbled in texture. Be extra cautious with port wine stains that appear on the eyelids as these may need medical treatment as with the case of port wine stains linked to a genetic condition.

Pregnancy Diet and Baby’s Skin Color

A balanced, healthy, and nutritious diet is highly recommended for pregnant women. The desire to have a baby with fair glowing skin gave birth to beliefs that certain types of food can contribute to that fair glow at birth. There are myths and truths to these beliefs. Let us look at some of them:

  • CHOCOLATE

    Have you ever been warned that eating chocolate during pregnancy can result in a darker-skinned baby? Dark food like dates and coffee is also believed by some to influence the skin color of the baby. Science does not back up this myth although the caffeine in chocolate can be harmful. Others believe that consuming chocolate during pregnancy can lead to a happier baby, so the secret is still moderation.

  • WATERMELONS, CHERRIES, AND BERRIES

    This belief became popular due to strawberry-colored birthmarks known as hemangiomas. Some people believe that your baby can be born with this birthmark if you eat red-colored fruit specifically strawberries, raspberries, and watermelon. Again, this is not backed by science although these fruits are full of the antioxidant-rich, anti-aging vitamin C, which is good for you and your baby.

  • CHILI PEPPERS

    It is also the belief in some people in America that eating chili peppers during pregnancy can contribute to a red birthmark on your baby. There is no scientific proof that this is true. Instead, chili peppers and other spicy food can cause discomfort when eaten during pregnancy as well as when breastfeeding.

  • SEAFOOD

    Some people in Singapore have a belief that pregnant women should avoid eating any seafood. It is said to cause rashes, eczema, and chronic skin conditions. However, if you look at people living near the sea and how they consume seafood during pregnancy, there is no epidemic of skin conditions caused by seafood there. Pregnant women should, however, refrain from consuming seafood with high levels of mercury marlin, bigeye tuna, sushi, shark, and swordfish.

  • BIRD’S NEST SOUP

    This dish is considered a delicacy in several parts of Southeast Asia and is quite expensive. There is a belief in some of these cultures that eating bird’s nests during pregnancy can make your baby’s skin color lighter. There is no scientific link between bird’s nests and skin color. Bird’s nests do contain amino acids, proteins, and minerals that can boost growth as well as prevent flu and colds.

  • MILK AND SAFFRON

    There is social pressure in India to have infants with lighter skin color. As such, many believe that white-colored food like Kesar or saffron milk consumed during pregnancy can help ensure you have a light baby. It is a tradition in India to massage their newborn babies with a paste of fresh cream, raw milk, and some turmeric can help make sure the baby has flawless skin. While there is no scientific research to back this up, saffron can be beneficial for protection against toxins and depression.

  • TOMATOES

    Now here is a proven way to improve your baby’s complexion no matter what her skin color. Tomatoes contain Lycopene which is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect skin from sun exposure and harmful UV rays. Tomatoes can help ensure your baby has healthy and radiant skin. Further, a mixture of tomato extract with oats can also be massage on your baby’s skin to improve complexion.

  • AVOCADO

    Vitamin C is often associated with sour-tasting fruits. In the case of avocado, it is not sour, but it is high in vitamin C and vitamin E, both known for having antioxidant properties. Eating avocado during pregnancy can help improve your baby’s skin tone because of the boost in collagen production.

  • OMEGA-3 RICH FISH

    Tuna, sardines, salmon, and other deep-sea fatty fishes are good for pregnant women. This type of fishes helps improve your baby’s skin elasticity due to the essential fatty acids that help repair cell membranes.

Permanent Skin Color

From reddish to pink and then turning yellow, you may be wondering when your baby’s true complexion will finally show. Skin color is already determined at conception, but it won’t be until your baby is two months to six months old when his permanent skin tone will be obvious.

You may be surprised when you first hold your baby, and he looks darker which is a result of losing water weight right after birth. Your baby may be lighter in the first few months, but you can expect changes to your baby’s skin as these are controlled by genes.

Even if you and your partner have white skin, your baby can turn out olive-skinned at birth, but you can wait it out a few more months to see if this is her actual skin color. Babies do get darker with age as well as when he is losing weight.

“Genetics controls your baby’s permanent skin color, not ear color or cuticle color.”

Some women have found a way to skip the waiting game and find out what their baby’s true complexion is soon after birth. These include:

  • FINGERTIPS AND TOES

    The color of the skin where the base of the nail and the cuticle meets is said to be the true complexion of your baby’s skin. Some women say that your baby will not be darker than the color on the tip of her fingers and toes.

  • EAR LOBE

    There is a popular belief that looking behind the ears can help you determine your baby’s true skin color. Some mothers say it is accurate. As mentioned, genetics controls what your baby’s permanent skin color will be, not ear color.

In truth, the skin of newborn babies is immature at birth. In many cases, the ears and even the genitals can seem darker than the rest of his body. It is best to wait during the first six months of life, enjoy your healthy baby, and accept him for his true color.

Do note that the skin color of the parents is not the only factor of their offspring’s skin color. When the parents’ genetics are very similar, genetic mutations arise. Also, when the parents come diverse backgrounds, traits that have skipped generations including long-dormant white or black genes can resurface from the combination of genes.

Even identical and fraternal twins can be born with different colors like black and white, light or dark-skinned, or have some variation of albinism.

Skin Care

Newborn babies are born with sensitive skin that needs special care. Bath products for adults can be too harsh for your baby although some baby products and laundry detergents can also contain allergens and irritants.

For instance, 95% of commercial baby wipes have formaldehyde as one of the ingredients which are linked to cancer, rashes, and allergies.

Other products such as talcum powder are linked to lung problems and fragrance in lotions, colognes, shampoos, and baby wash have phthalates that lead to early puberty and reproductive problems.

Babies also do not need to bathe as often as children and adults. Bathing more than three times a week can dry baby’s skin. Soaking your baby in a bath for more than five to ten minutes can also be harmful to your baby’s fragile skin.

Related Questions

When can you tell a baby’s skin color?

It can take up to six months for a baby’s permanent skin color to show. In the meantime, your baby’s skin will go through many changes as his organs fully develop.

Why is my newborn’s skin red?

Your newborn baby will have thin skin at birth. It is normal for the red blood vessels to be visible through your newborn’s skin.

As your baby’s blood circulation improves and her skin thickens, your baby will appear red, and it is normal.

What color are black babies at birth?

All babies are born with a reddish-purple appearance. Biracial babies are sometimes born white and get darker as they age.

Hair color and eye color can also get darker with age. For instance, a white baby born with blond hair and blue eyes can feature dark hair and brown eyes at a later stage.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*