Newborn Baby Skin Color: What’s Normal & Changes To Expect

| Reviewed By Amanda Lundberg, BSN, RN

Birth: the fountain of change. At birth, your child begins changing before your very eyes. Newborns enter this world brand new, their skin sensitive and paper thin.

When a baby is born, they can have a range of skin tones. The color and texture of your newborn’s skin will change as they age.

Most changes in skin tone and texture are normal, but some changes may signify an underlying condition. Changes in skin tone will occur, no matter the child’s ethnicity.

Are black babies born white? African American babies are not typically born white due to the higher level of melanin present in their skin, though they’re usually a few shades lighter at birth than they will be at maturity. Many babies have a reddish hue at birth, but by 6 six months, the true skin tone will start emerging.

All infants are born with sensitive skin in a variety of skin tones. Each newborn is unique and ever-changing. Why does a baby’s skin color change? What do the different colors mean? Let’s break it down. 

Baby Skin Color – What To Expect

When a baby is born they will bear a lighter skin tone than they will have as an adult. They may have a red, purple, yellow, or blue skin tone at birth. Babies of various ethnic and multiracial backgrounds will have darker skin tones and more pigmentation. 

Are All Babies Born White?

No, all babies are not born white. At birth, regardless of race, most babies appear reddish purple. Various ethnic skin tones may transition differently, becoming darker or lighter over time. Genetics and ancestral biology determine skin color. 

Normal Newborn Appearance

A newborn will normally have dark-red to purple-colored skin with bluish-colored hands and feet. Redness fades within the first few days.

Many newborns will still be covered in a white cheesy-looking substance called vernix, a residual coating from the infant’s time in the womb that fades within the first couple of days after birth.

Every baby’s complexion will change with age. The level of skin pigmentation depends on familial factors. 

Red Skin in Newborns

Due to thin, almost translucent skin and their blood and oxygen going  to vital organs rather than extremities, most babies are born with a reddish-purple skin tone.

The initial redness should fade within the first few days of life, but when an infant cries, their skin tone changes to bright red, and this will continue for some time.

What Determines Skin Color

Skin color is determined by one or more genes, making it a polygenic trait. Physical features are passed along from both parents’ dominant genes. The combination of genes donated by the parents will determine the baby’s skin color. 

What Color Are Black Babies When First Born?

African American and biracial infants have more pigment in their skin and will be born with a darker skin tone than those of lighter-skinned descent. It is common for infants of various ethnicities to be born paler than expected. Their skin will darken over time.

African American and biracial infants often have sensitive skin that is prone to hyperpigmentation, dryness, and dark spots. Ensure healthy skin by using moisturizer and sensitive soaps on your newborn’s skin.

A sleeping African American baby cuddled in a soft, plush blanket.

When Do Mixed Babies Get Their Color?

African-American and biracial children’s skin tone will darken within the first two to three weeks of life. Between the ages of 6 months and 2 years, the final skin color will be evident.

Baby Skin Color Change With Age

A baby’s skin color will change over time and should finally settle before the age of 2 years old. Multiracial babies can get much darker after birth. Complexion and skin tone varies depending on genetics..

When Does Baby Skin Color Stop Changing?

Baby skin color stops changing sometime around 20 months old. 

Signs of Jaundice in Newborn

Some newborns will develop a yellow coloring on their skin and eyes. The yellowing is called jaundice. This can be a normal response as the body is ridding itself of old red blood cells and can appear two to four days after birth.

To check for jaundice, press gently on your baby’s nose or forehead. If the skin looks yellow when you press, the baby likely has mild jaundice. Seek immediate medical care if your baby’s yellow tint gets brighter and/or deeper.

If your baby is arching their back, crying, fatigued, and not eating well, it can be a sign of a more serious condition and can lead to further health problems.

How To Know What Skin Color Your Baby Will Have

Physical features, including skin color, come from dominant genes donated by both parents. It is a mixture of both parents’ genes that will determine skin color, and there is no way to accurately predict future color.

However, the color of the ears, nipples, and scrotum at birth are often indicative of final coloring.

Does Newborn Ear Color Determine Skin Color?

Yes, babies do tend to turn the color of their ears. A baby’s ears are colored due to melanocytes, which produce melanin. Melanin produces skin pigment and hair color in babies.

Melanocytes produce melanin after birth. The amount of melanin will determine skin color. 

Newborn Nipple Color

Newborns have darker nipples. Babies with darker skin tones will have deeper pigmentation in their nipples. 

Newborn Scrotum Color

Newborn scrotum color depends on skin tone and pigmentation. Infants with darker skin tones will have darker pigmentation. Dark or deep red-colored scrotums are common in infants of Asian, African, or Middle-Eastern origin. 

Related Questions:

Does Skin Color Change During Puberty?

Yes, children’s skin often becomes darker as they transition through puberty as heightened hormone levels trigger over-pigmentation. Skin darkening is especially notable in the nipples, genitals, and scrotum. 

Why Do Newborns Get Pimples?

Newborns get pimples due to the presence of maternal hormones still circulating in their system for the first few weeks after birth. Newborns can develop pimples on their face, neck, and torso. 

Final Thoughts

Nothing is more perfect than newborn baby snuggles. Each child is a unique mixture of genes, created just for parents to love and support. Embrace your baby’s appearance, and love the skin they are in.