Why Do Baby Faces Change So Dramatically? (Infant Development & What’s Normal)

A baby’s facial appearance may look puffy due to fluid accumulation and often changes significantly during the first few weeks and months of birth as the baby gets rid of the extra fluids and the trauma of delivery eases. In addition, the rough squeeze trip through the birth canal influences the baby’s skeletal feature change, leading to face elongation. Sometimes, a newborn’s facial features can be entirely distorted due to positioning in the uterus. Changes to the muscles and the elimination of baby’s fats also contribute to a baby’s dramatic facial change.

After nine long months of expectation, you’ve finally met your bundle of joy.

As you settle into the life of a full-time mommy job, you’ll probably be on the lookout for physical traits that reflect your heritage, whether it is your partner’s eyes or your nose.

But wait a minute! What if your little one comes out looking a little funny? 

There’s no need for pangs of parental guilt if you secretly feel that your newest family addition isn’t as adorable as you expected.

Their looks won’t change your love for them, but if you’re wondering if it’s normal to feel your newborn isn’t a candidate for those TV commercials, the answer is yes!

Several factors affect infants’ appearance, and many of them are subject to change quickly as your baby grows. 

Here’s why there’s no need to panic if the newest family member isn’t utterly physically adorable.

Factors that affect a baby’s appearance 

So what is it that makes some babies emerge from the womb looking a little more quirky and aren’t as impeccably gorgeous as those advertisements and Instagram photo shoots might lead us to believe, while others come with clean skin and perfectly chubby cheeks?

Many factors can contribute to your baby’s appearance at birth, and genetics is the key player in overall physical characteristics such as skin or eye color.

Permitted, your baby’s genetic make-up won’t change, but it isn’t the only determinant of their appearance. How your baby was positioned in the uterus could also affect and change the appearance of their face.

If your baby’s face was pressed against the uterine wall, they might come out like they just lost a boxing match.

Other influences can also alter the appearance of your baby’s skin at birth. Fluid accumulation in the uterus can cause your little one’s face to look extra puffy immediately after birth.

Spots of discoloration and birthmarks on the baby’s skin may be incredibly bright and pronounced during the baby’s early days, making them look slightly different.

And if too much bilirubin has accumulated in the blood, your baby may be born with a yellowish tinge of jaundice.

Head shape is another common concern among parents of newborns and is another factor that dramatically affects the appearance and changes the baby’s face.

The mode of delivery can temporarily affect the shape of your newborn’s skull and distort your baby’s facial appearance. 

Vaginal delivery often results in classical cone-shaped heads and other uneven patches. They may even have head lumps known as caput succedaneum depending on the interventions needed at birth. 

Meanwhile, some newborns can be surprisingly hairy, or their hair is quite greasy.

Lanugo, the downy fuzzy hair covering many newborns at birth, especially premature babies, can surprise new parents who may have expected a baby with smooth skin.

How babies face change in their earlier life

Arguably, babies change more in their first year of development than in any other twelve-month period of their life.

Dad is holding his happy infant boy and noticing his recent facial changes as he continues to grow up

If you are concerned about how they look, wait a while. Be sure of some dramatic changes in a relatively short period.

Babies gain lots of weight during their first year, typically double their birth weight by five or six months and triple it by one year. This rapid weight gain can significantly alter their appearance and produce adorable chubbiness.

Other changes come even more quickly. Bruising on your baby’s face from the cramped position in the womb should fade within days of birth. And those unusual head shapes and lumps may also resolve in the first few days. 

Tummy time and proper positioning can help your baby’s head take on a more rounded form if they have a flat or an uneven head shape.

However, if you are concerned about your baby’s head shape, talk to your pediatrician. He will advise if the baby needs a helmet to rectify the head shape.

Lanugo doesn’t take long to fall off. A few days after birth, this fine frizzy hair should begin to be replaced by normal childhood hair called vellus hair, and the hair on the head will start to fill in too.

Even the baby’s skin tone may change not too long after birth. Their bodies will start to secrete melanin, determining their skin color in the first few months of life.

The yellowish pigmentation from jaundice will likely fade even faster, typically within a few weeks of birth, and vascular birthmarks will go away on their own by toddlerhood.

The baby’s eye color too can take some time to develop fully.

You might see eye color changes, especially in grey or blue-eyed babies from six months, and it can take a couple of years to get their final eye color.


What determines the face of a baby?

It all comes down to DNA. Most traits that babies inherit result from multiple genes working together to form their appearance.

When the genes come together, some effects are amplified while others are reduced. Predicting your baby’s look is not as easy as it seems.

Who has stronger genes, mother or father?

Research has shown that genes from your father are more dominant than those inherited from your mother. As a result, you are more likely to look like your father than your mother.


There’s a vast spectrum of what’s typical for babies’ appearance, and they change immeasurably from month to month.

In a few years, you may hardly recognize that little one. Ultimately, their looks aren’t the most important thing in life.

Talk to your child’s pediatrician if you have concerns about their appearance. Meanwhile, enjoy your precious little family addition.

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Hello, I am Emelda from Nairobi, Kenya. They simply call me mama Lilly. A fun of long road trips and a very good cook, along with my mommy duties to a super active girl. She inspires and challenges me in equal measure, and that is how I get to share with you our journey of triumph as we grow and tag you along.

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