Monday, September 7, 2009

Mama Bear, Mama Bear, What Do You See?

Just as newborn babies of differing nationalities or races have visible distinguishing features, so do babies with Down syndrome. While babies with Down syndrome do share some unique features, they mostly look like their biological parents and other family members. All babies are different and not every baby will have all or even most of the physical characteristics described below.

Babies with Down syndrome have very delicate facial features (which have no negative effect on your baby’s senses or intelligence.) You will find that your baby’s features are very proportionate.

Head: your baby may have a marginally smaller head circumference. This size difference is hardly noticeable and you may not even see it or realize it until your pediatrician measures him and marks his growth chart. The back of your baby’s neck may be chunky but this disappears with age. The back of your baby’s head may be a bit less rounded than the average newborn.

Nose: your baby may have a cute button nose with a softly contoured nasal bridge. This smoothness lends itself to a slightly more broad facial appearance.

Eyes: your baby’s eyes may turn gently upward at the outer edge. His actual eyes will be the same size as any other baby but may give the illusion of being beautifully enhanced if your baby has sparkling brushfield spots. Your baby’s eyes may also have small crinkles at the inner corner called epicanthal folds.

Mouth: your baby may have a little rosebud mouth. A smaller mouth may give the illusion that an average sized tongue is bigger than it actually is, (though the jury is still out on whether some children with Ds do have more ample tongues.)

Ears: babies with Ds are graced with petite ears that may or may not have a slight curve at the top. Sometimes baby’s ears are set a little further down on his head though this is hardly noticeable.

Hands: some babies with Ds have a single line on their palms called a transverse palmar crease. This crease occurs in more than 3 percent of the general population.Your baby’s hands may be smaller and his fingers maybe shorter than average. This does not interfere with a baby’s gross or fine motor skills.

Feet: some babies have a small space between their first and second toes which is often accompanied by a vertical crease on the sole at this spot.

Chest: your baby’s chest may appear slightly bowed out or slightly depressed. This minor difference in shape has no negative effect on your baby.

Skin and hair: you may find yourself with a fair-skinned baby who has lighter colored hair than yours. Some babies have very fine soft hair that may be thin in spots. These thinner spots should fill in as your baby grows.

Muscle tone: many babies with Ds have low muscle tone. While this has no bearing on how your baby looks, you will notice that your baby is a bit floppy with an amazing level of flexibility.

So, mama bear, mama bear, what do you see? I see an adorable baby looking at me.

Picture credits: Kacey's daughter Ella Grace, and Lisa's son Finnian


  1. My goodness, that's a handsome boy at the bottom ;)

    Thanks, as always, Sandra, for providing such great info.

    Curious - I see that you mention that babies with Ds are often more fair-skinned and lighter of hair color than parents/sibs . . . any idea why this is? The first thing we noticed when Finn was born was his headful of platinum hair, which was so much different than his siblings. I've always wondered about this.

  2. What an absolutely wonderful breakdown! This has never been said more beautifully.

  3. Because blonds have more fun would be my very non-scientific answer. Other possibilities might be that there is an extra amount of an antibody produced by having an extra 21st chromosome that destroys pigmentation cells... or that somehow having T21 generates the most recessive of traits e.g, light hair and skin, and straight hair. If the latter were the case, I would think there would be lots of babies with Ds who have blue eyes too. Hmm, maybe I should do an eye color poll.

  4. What a nice way to list certain characteristics. I might add that in some kiddos, the pinky fingers are slightly curved inwards (towards the ring fingers) and yes, that does not have any bearing on fine motor skills either. Just something interesting to note. Although I can't really attest to Matthew being more fair-skinned than I. He is as fair as I was when I was a baby. And given that he's half Asian- half Caucasian, his hair is a mix of Bill's and mine. It's dark, but not completely black like mine. Interestingly enough, I've spotted a few strands of blond hair on him.

  5. Who is the cutie with the pigtails? She is gorgeous!

    Eon has darker hair than some of his siblings, but he's our first to have dark hair and blue eyes. My favorite Ds characteristics are the Brushfield spots and the adorable sandal toes! Love 'em!

  6. Now you tell me! I am the momma and I no longer see any of it!! This weekend at the fair someone mentioned The "Buddy Walk" and I was surprised that she noticed! lol Thomas is 4 mths today. Time flies when you are having fun!

  7. I read that babies with Ds have lighter skin, hair (and usually straight hair) and eyes than their siblings so I just figured Morgan would be my one child without brown eyes and straight hair. I was wrong. She has brown eyes and had natural curl until she was 5 years old (just like her sibs). She does have lighter skin though. All my kids have olive skin that never burns but Morgan has fair skin and easily gets a sun burn. I did just meet a new little baby girl that has very olive skin though. I was impressed! :)

  8. Hi there..
    Thank you for all your kind words you have left me. This whole blog world, is really amazing, and is helping truly deal, with what I have going on. I love all your pictures you posted of other little ones with D.S, Such angels.. I am So proud to be Kaid's mom, and I will for sure post on what's new with the new school.. Thanks again!
    We are all together in this, all parents with D.S kido's.. I just so appriciate you taking the time to leave me your thoughts..
    Thanks again..

  9. Thanks for the information. I looked up Brushfield.

    The pictures are beautiful.

    God bless.

  10. Ella is so fair, which I am and so is my son. I guess the biggest surprise for me is how straight her hair is, my hair is crazy curly so always imagined my daughter as having the same. Oh well, she's beautiful no matter what!!!! Thanks for doing this!!

  11. Thank you for posting these beautiful pitures. I remmber being an expectant mother with the news that our baby would have Down syndrome. Looking at pictures of babies and young children was so helpful during a difficult time. Thank you again!


  12. I have a gorgeous 2 year old daughter with downs syndrome and she has curly hair...very unusual and very sweet. Unfortunately we don't like having a brush through it.


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