Unless you’re a fact-loving clone or bot, you probably came into this world as a baby! Return to simpler times and marvel at one of nature’s great miracles with these amazing baby facts.
The last few decades have seen a massive rise in the occurrence of twins in the US. In 1980, about one in 50 births was to twins, while in 2009 this number had risen to one in 30—a rise of around 75%.
A newborn baby needs a lot of sleep. When first born, a baby will only be awake and alert for as little as 3 minutes per hour, and that number is less at night. Too bad new parents can’t get that much sleep!
44. Lots of Diapers
Newborn babies urinate as often as every 20 minutes—which amounts to a lot of diaper changing!
43. My, What Big Ears You Have
Although most of a baby’s body has a lot of growing to do before they reach adulthood, there is one part of the body that is full grown at birth: the inner ear.
42. Big Eyes
Another organ that is almost fully grown at birth is a baby’s eyes. The eyes are nearly adult size at birth, around 75%. Eyesight, on the other hand, still has far to go: babies are born very nearsighted but should reach 20/20 vision after only 6 months.
41. They’re Called Baby Blues For a Reason
Most people, despite whatever eye color they end up with in adulthood, are born with blue eyes. A person’s actual eye colour is revealed after about 6 to 12 months.
40. Baby Talk
Supposedly the word “baby” derives from the first sounds a baby usually makes: ba-ba-ba.
39. She Looks Just Like You!
Although its common to recognize one parent more than the other in a newborn, the truth is that, at this early point, babies on average actually tend to look like each parent equally.
38. Natural Swimmers
Babies are born with an innate sense for swimming – they will hold their breath when underwater and understand how to splash and kick. A baby can even be taken swimming as soon as their parents are ready!
37. Head of Hair
Some babies surprise their parents by emerging into the world with a beautiful head of dark hair. This hair is however not an actual indicator of what the baby will have as the grow up—a newborn’s hair will usually fall out within a few weeks and grow back over the baby’s first year.
36. Just a Cup
While an average adult will have about 4.5 to 5.5 liters of blood in their body, a newborn baby will only have one cup.
Still a common baby term, one swaddles a child by wrapping them up tightly and snugly in baby blankets. The action of swaddling actually originates in a tradition from Medieval Europe where guardians wrapped a baby tightly in linen with the hope that it would help the baby’s limbs to grow straight.
34. Born in a Shirt
About 1 in 800,000 babies are born with a caul (or cowl). A caul refers to a piece of birth membrane that is present on the baby’s head or face. A caul is harmless and easily removed, and in many folk traditions even seen as a lucky sign. In medieval and early modern Europe, being born with a caul meant a great life ahead and the protection of fertility against evil spirits. Keeping a baby’s caul was thought to protect the owner from drowning—in fact, sailors would often purchase cauls at high prices to keep them safe at sea. The idiomatic phrase “born in a shirt or bonnet” is present in several European languages and refers to the luck signified by a birth caul. So a caul is mostly a good sign—except if you were born with one in Romania—where you’d be thought to be a vampire.
33. Power of the Sea
In past European and American societies, babies would often be given coral as a teething aid or rattle. The coral served two purposes; it amused the babies and kept them occupied but also was thought to bring them protection from evil.
32. Baby’s First Poop
The first fecal matter a human baby passes isn’t poop. The excretion is a unique, greenish substance called “Meconium.” Its also sticky, and it serves the purpose of preparing the baby’s intestine for its first digestion. Once they have passed the meconium, their body will move into more regular bowel movements.
31. Baby Strength
Ever been surprised by how hard that newborn grabs on to your out-stretched finger? Amazingly, babies are actually typically strong enough support the weight of their whole body hanging by simply grasping with one hand.
30. Primal Fear
Babies have shown an evolutionary response to potentially dangerous situations, which they mainly experience through sound. Babies who hear thunder and lightning, fire, or the sounds of a threatening animal are likely to respond with a dropped heart rate, increased blinking, and by looking for their parents. Loud noises can also trigger a jump reflex wherein a baby will open their arms and fists wide and pull their knees in, before returning to a more neutral position.
29. All Organic
After a baby is born, the first milk to be expelled from the mother’s breast is called colostrum (also known as beestings). Modern medicine recognizes the nutritional value and immune boosting power in colostrum and encourages mothers to start breast feeding at this early point. In the middle ages however, colostrum was deemed to risky for a newborn and it was usually given to an older child.
Babies are born with the instinct to “root around” for the breast—where they seek out their mother’s nipple by moving their head and mouth. Babies are also usually instinctively adept at sucking to express breast milk, but some babies suffer from “tongue-tie,” where their tongue literally has less ability to maneuver since it is attached too closely to the rest of their mouth. As a result, tongue-tie can make it difficult to breast feed.
27. Mother’s Breast Is Best
Before cow and sheep’s milk began to be pasteurized in Europe, it was uncommon to give this milk to children. Popular belief claimed that drinking milk from another species would cause the baby to take on the characteristics of that animal. Today cow’s milk is usually introduced to a child at around 12 months old.
26. Primitive Instincts
Babies are born with as many as 70 innate movement reflexes. As well as instinctually moving to feed, babies will also make primitive motions for crawling and walking.
25. An Alluring Aroma
Babies and their mothers have a very good sense of smell for one another. A baby can correctly identify the breast pad of its mother (by responding more positively when compared to others), and a blindfolded mother can tell her own baby apart from the rest of the group. Plus, a mother smelling her baby may also experience a pleasure similar to that of smelling food when hungry.
24. Mother’s Music
When first born, babies do not have very good hearing due to fluid build up. Babies can however recognize their mother’s voice and sometimes even music they have heard while in the womb. Dance party?
23. Paired Hearts
Another amazing connection recently discovered between a mother and child pertains to their heart beats: when mom and baby are looking at each other their heart rates adjust to match the other’s in a manner of seconds. Sounds like love!
22. Mouth Feel
Despite the efforts of parents and nannies everywhere, babies are always putting things in their mouths! This may be for two reasons: first, it is thought that the impulse is evolutionary—the more a baby puts in their mouth, the more they may be able to eat. The second reason may be more about inquiry—babies discover the world through their sense of touch and the most sensitive of these receptors are in their mouths.
21. Baby Belly
New parents are often tired because their baby needs to feed frequently; this is of course because newborns need lots of nutrients to keep growing. What they may not know is that a newborn’s stomach is actually only the size of a hazelnut–so a full stomach naturally doesn’t last too long!
20. Victorian Parents
The ever-prudish Victorians were sure that babies who continued to suck on pacifiers or their thumbs for too long were destined to become masturbators (the horror!). To prevent this immoral activity, parents would go to such lengths as securing their babies hands to cribs, or blocking sucking with uncomfortable mittens.
19. Big Noggin
It’s pretty common knowledge that a baby’s head is huge compared to its body—an adult human’s skull is about one seventh of its body, while a baby’s is about one quarter. But you may not know that one important protein in baby skull production is named after a slang work for head – Noggin. The protein “noggin” actually keeps the skull from fusing too early, which helps during birth.
18. A Refined Palate
Studies have shown that babies recognize and are drawn to the foods that their mother ate while pregnant. The types and tastes of food that a mother eats affects the amniotic fluid that in turn nourishes the baby—after about four or five months in utero, a mother’s taste preferences start influencing the baby. It is also likely that as they grow and start eating adult food, a baby will enjoy the flavors they may have tried while in the womb. Talk about comfort food!
17. Fur Coat
Babies are sometimes born with soft downy body hair called lanugo. Lanugo is usually shed and then consumed by a fetus in utero, but in some cases it is still on a baby when born. It disappears a few weeks after birth but can reappear later in life by individuals who suffer from eating disorders.
16. Cheesy Wax
Babies are born with a coating of a white creamy substance called Vernix Caseosa–literally Latin for cheesy varnish. This cheesy coating seems to be beneficial to the baby in many ways: including antibacterial properties, maintaining heat, easing through the birth canal and even as a moisturizer.
15. No-Fly List
Many airlines won’t allow a newborn baby under seven days old to fly if they’re flying domestically, and some won’t allow infants under 14 days to fly internationally. In any case, I’m sure the last place new parents want to be is on an airplane.
14. Yogi Baby
Ever wonder why babies are so flexible? They have more bones at birth than they will as an adult! This is because as babies grow some of their bones will fuse into one larger piece, thus reducing the number of bones overall.
13. Kneecaps Needed
Even though babies are born with more bones than they will have as an adult, one body part they do lack are kneecaps. Kneecap-like cartilage structures will develop at around 6 months.
12. Baby Weight
If you were a heavy baby, chances are you were born May. Researchers say that babies born in this month weigh the most, but the reason is unclear.
Most babies are born with some kind of birthmark that either stays with them their whole life or fades as they grow up. Birthmarks are often due to labor, when blood vessel are dilated. Baby birthmarks have all kinds of crazy nicknames and folk meanings: “Angel Kisses” are said to be a gift from heavenly powers, “Stork Bites” are left over from the stork that brought the baby, “Strawberry Marks” reveal the unfulfilled desires of the mother, and “Port Wine Stains” are thought to be scars from burns that did not fully heal from a past life.
Although you may think your newborn is smiling at you, a baby’s first smile, as an expression of happiness, only actually occurs at around five weeks old.
9. Cry Baby
Just as their first emotion-driven smile doesn’t appear until they’re around a month old, a baby’s first emotion-driven cry occurs somewhere between 2 and 4 months. Before then, a baby’s tearing is considered basal (for moisture) or reflex (for irritation) tearing, and is mainly a physical response.
8. Good Taste
Babies have as many as three times the amount of taste buds as an adult, however they can’t taste salt until after they are four months old.
7. Leech Lessons
Babies in medieval Europe faced medical treatments that would frighten anyone today. To treat croup, leeches were placed on a baby’s windpipe, and teething babies were also bled.
6. Witch’s Milk
Newborn babies, male and female, sometimes secrete milk from the breast—it’s very normal and likely caused by the mother’s hormones as the mother’s body prepares to nurse. The folk term for the physiological occurrence, witch’s milk, stems from a belief that newborn milk was stolen to feed a witch’s familiar spirits.
5. They Grow Up So Fast
Similar to newborn lactation, newborn girls may also show signs of menstruation. After being exposed to their mother’s high level of estrogen in the womb and then having that exposure abruptly halted at birth, a female baby’s body will react as an adult woman’s would after a drop in estrogen—she will start to menstruate. Although it can be alarming for parents, this phenomenon is completely normal. It occurs in around 1 in 4 female babies and doesn’t usually last more than a week.
4. La Dolce Vita
To ensure a good life, Europeans and parents in the UK would wash their babies’ heads in rum, or anoint them with a dash of butter and sugar. These sweet substances were thought to foreshadow the sweets to come.
3. Do I Hear an Accent?
Children as they learn to speak will naturally mimic the language of their parents, but the language learning process actually begins before birth. Babies first pick up on their mother’s accent while in the womb. and, amazingly, this early accent is passed down and shows in how they cry. Studies have shown that a baby’s crying reveals patterns that can be connected to characteristics in their mother’s language.
The woman who is thought to have had the most babies of all time gave birth to 69 little ones over her lifetime!
1. Don’t Be Afraid
Newborn babies are very vulnerable, and experts warn that if new mothers aren’t careful, they risk seriously infecting their infants with their own fears and psychological problems. Maternal fears are so powerful, children of Holocaust survivors suffered nightmares and flashbacks to events they never experienced. As Dr. Jacek Debiec states of his own studies on maternal fear in rats,“Our research demonstrates that infants can learn from maternal expression of fear, very early in life. Before they can even make their own experiences, they basically acquire their mothers’ experiences.”