You stare down at your gorgeous newborn baby. You count his fingers. You count his toes. He’s perfect in every way, and you are utterly besotted.
That’s lucky, because newborn babies are some of the grossest humans on planet earth. We’re genetically programmed to respond to their big heads and soft mewling so we don’t run screaming in the other direction. They may be completely cute. But they’re also totally and completely ick.
1. Meconium: For the first few days of his life, your baby will poop a substance science calls meconium and parents call “butt tar.” It’s greenish-blackish. It requires six billion wipes to remove. It smells like death, and it stains worse than red clay. Even devout hippies often use disposable diapers until it passes. Technically, it’s all that amniotic fluid and dead skin and yumminess that he gobbled up before birth. Doesn’t that make it even better?
2. Milia: It looks like acne. It isn’t. It’s the little acne-like bumps that babies develop all over their faces, some more than others. It interferes with their cuteness and makes you itch to pop just.one.please.God. But you can’t, because they aren’t zits.
3. Chicken Legs and Arms: Hollywood’s conditioned us to expect perfect pink fat rolls from our babies. Queen Victoria famously said her babies looked like naked pink frogs. And babies sort of do, especially if they’re on the new/naked/skinny side. White babies in particular tend to be particularly reddish, with that just-plucked chicken look we’re supposed to adore. Don’t worry. They all look like that when they come out.
4. Pooping: Grown men don’t make the same pooping sounds as newborn babies. What goes through their digestive system goes quickly, and it comes out with a bang. And a gurgle. And an explosion, preferably not all the way up their back. And it’s sticky, and it’s copious, and you’re the one cleaning it up. Congratulations, mama. Hope those hormones gave you a strong stomach.
5. Barfing: Newborn babies can puke like frat boys at a sorority mixer. Sometimes it’s just a little spit-up, also known as “only a small amount of human vomit excreted upon my shoulder.” Sometimes it’s the projectile vomiting of the hopelessly inebriated or the terminally ill. And don’t let them lie to you: just because it comes from a baby doesn’t mean it doesn’t smell like human barf.
6. Umbilical cord stump: Every parent, at some point, looks at their newborn’s umbilical cord stump and calls the pediatrician emergency line, because there’s no way a human body can have that kind of icky, stinky, crusty thing attached to it without some acute infection going on. Nope. Just your normal ol’ cord stump. You’ll think it’s opening up a direct hole to your kid’s belly. You’ll think it’s going to give your kid an outie. You’ll think it’s every kind of horrid until it finally falls off. Don’t even think about saving it when it does. That’s hella disgusting and creepy.
7. Werewolf fur: It’s called lanugo, and though it’s supposed to be gone by the time baby’s done cooking, a lot of the time, it’s still hanging on, making it look like you gave birth to wolfman’s spawn. Just remember, it’ll fall out. Soon. But never soon enough for you.
8. The soft spot: It’s biologically necessary for your baby’s head to grow. But dude, between those as-yet-unfused skull bones, in the middle of that hole, that’s where your kid’s brain is. For the first year or so of his life, he gets carted around with his brain totally uncovered and seemingly vulnerable to sharp implements. Creepy.
9. Teensy-tiny finger- and toenails: These seem cute at first. Don’t be fooled. Your baby wants nothing more than to scratch his eyes out with them. That means that you, or someone you love, has to trim them. Use baby nail clippers, scissors, or your teeth, and I dare you to read that part without getting the ickies.
10. Minor newborn maladies: Some babies get covered in yellow-crusted cradle cap. Others develop teenager-worthy acne. Their tear ducts clog and ooze eye booger; there’s diaper rash and yeast infections. None of these is particularly dangerous, just annoyingly grody — and your kid will have one or all of them. Any hippie will tell you to just put breastmilk on it and move on. Which makes it just that much more or less gross, depending on your view of human breastmilk.
What’s the grossest part of having a newborn baby?
Related post: The Miracle of Life Is Gross