Babies cannot taste salt, are unable to shed actual tears, and are born without kneecaps! Here, more weird facts about our tiniest humans.
Young infants are born with a well-developed sense of taste, but are missing the ability to taste salt. Studies demonstrate that infants cannot taste salt until they are four months old. They do taste other flavors like everyone else, particularly sour, sweet and bitter flavors. This could also explain all those videos on YouTube of babies tasting lemons. Additionally, some studies show infants can possess more taste buds than adults.
They Cry…But Without Tears
Newborns cry often, but they are unable to shed tears. They lack functioning tear ducts until they reach between one to four months of age. Their eyes do make, however, basal tears. These are non-emotional tears designed to moisturize the eyes.
Before they are born, babies are exposed to high levels of the female hormone estrogen. At birth, when the baby is disconnected from their mother, estrogen levels rapidly decrease. In girls, this can cause what is known as pseudomenstruation, which is similar to menstruation in young and adult women. Rapid drops in estrogen and other hormones are actually what cause menstruation to occur in adult women. Mothers often worry when they see blood in their babies’ diapers when they are not familiar with the phenomenon, however it’s normal and happens to approximately one-fourth of all female babies, typically in the first week of life.
The decrease in hormone levels that triggers psueudomenstruation can also cause galactorrhea, a condition where newborns have tiny breast buds that actually lactate and produce small amounts of milk from their nipples. It can happen to both genders. Similar to pseudomenstruation, it’s not dangerous or uncommon. It occurs in about five percent of all newborns, and it can continue for up to two months. In European folklore, milk from newborn babies was called “witch’s milk,” and it was believed to have magical powers.
They Drink Their Own Urine
Shortly after conception, babies begin urinating in the womb. Yet, it has nowhere to go so they drink it. To be more precise, the urine is mixed with the amniotic fluid that cushions the baby in the uterus. By the third trimester of pregnancy, the fetus drinks almost a full liter of their amniotic fluid each day. Since a fetus does not require hydration or nutrition in the womb experts believe that this is merely practice for when they swallow and eat after birth. This means that we all spent the first several months of our lives drinking our own pee. Just so you know…fetal pooping also happens, even though it is rare. But that’s all we will say about that for now.
They Have No Kneecaps
Seriously! Well, kind of, but it’s complicated. When a doctor X-ray’s an infant’s legs, you cannot see anything where the kneecaps would normally appear. If anything, you might see little smudges or spots. This is because all bones begin as cartilage that hardens, or ossifies, over time. Kneecaps for over three to five years, and since cartilage never appears on X-rays, babies look like they do not have kneecaps. Not having hard kneecaps is beneficial for babies because the sponginess of the tissue helps to absorb the impact from frequent falls those babies endure as they learn to walk.
They Have More Bones Than Adults
Adults have only 206 bones, and newborns enter the world with 300. The explanation for this is similar to why they do not have kneecaps. After birth, some of a babies bones will fuse together as they harden. An example of this includes the skull. When babies are born, the skull is in multiple pieces that fuse together around the time a baby turns two.
They Form Taste Memories in Utero
Around four to five months after conception, babies can taste their amniotic fluid. While they may not be able to taste salt yet, they are still building memories of the other flavors they experience. It is currently believed that amniotic fluid is affected by the food that a mother eats, and the tastes a mother’s diet generates could influence a baby’s later preferences for food. For example, a mother who eats lots of garlic may introduce that flavor to her baby, and they may later enjoy eating garlicky dishes due to the memories they formed from tasting that flavor in the amniotic fluid.
They Are Covered in Hair
Most people have seen babies born with tiny amounts of hair on their head or a little peach fuzz covering their scalp. This is not the hair that we are talking about. While in the womb, babies develop a special type of hair that covers their entire body called lanugo. It is believed by child development experts that this fine, dark hair helps a baby to regulate their body temperature in utero. This means that it is perfectly normal if your baby is born looking like a miniature werewolf. If this happens, do not worry since most of this hair will fall off shortly before their birth and the following weeks after. If your baby is born without lanugo, really all that means is that it fell off early, and they probably ate it.
Weird stuff because most of us did not know this. Very normal in the baby world though.