Development of your baby’s face
By the time your baby is born, she has the distinctive mask that is her face for the rest of her life.
The face of your future baby is formed completely in the first trimester. Some gentle refining will then take place during the second and third trimester.
The beginnings of your baby's facial development
- The face starts off as a pair of tissue mounds, called branchial arches. They form from outside in; from the sides inward towards the middle.
- At 22 days, the size of the head is 1mm and already the face has started forming. At 28 days the head is 2mm and the lower jaw is visible.
- Day 31 shows the nostrils are forming and the eyes appear on each side of the head.
- A few days later, the nostrils move towards the centre of the face and the ears are spotted in a most peculiar place - below the nose and the mouth!
- The face resembles a “goldfish” at this stage. Don’t worry; there is much that will change in just a few short days.
- Then, the nostrils move even closer and the eyes become more prominent. Under the eyes, the cheeks and the upper lip form.
Your baby's face is beginning to take shape
- Between 5 to 6 weeks, the eyelids are present and the eyes are moving to the centre of the head. The nasal swellings have also joined in the centre of the face and the foetus looks more human. The head measures 8.5mm.
- At about 7 weeks gestation, the forming face develops an upper lip and nostrils become apparent in the little nub of the nose. The neck becomes longer, which makes the lower jaw stand out. The bumpy grooves that have been hovering around the neck from week six are the developing ears and have now moved to the side of the head. They are covered by a small flap of skin.
- The eyes are still wide apart from each other and continue to move forward on the face and become pigmented. The enormous forehead becomes less prominent as the baby’s face becomes bigger and more pronounced. The mouth curves as if in a little secret smile.
- The facial muscles will eventually shape the nostrils and the lips. The fusion of a particular sperm and egg cell will result in a set of genes that will cause your baby to look the way she does. And because genes are passed on from generation to generation, perhaps yes, Uncle Ted has something to do with it.
- At 11 weeks gestation, the foetus has the profile of a baby - a large rounded forehead, a tiny “turned up” nose and a well-defined chin.
Your baby's face at 4 and a half months
At four and a half months, the lips and tongue begin their sucking motions. This is a reflex that will be there at birth and is necessary for survival.
Babies are born with big eyes and large pupils that make them look angelic. It’s a “sneaky” trick on Mom Nature’s part because it causes the first stirrings of attachment and protection in the mother and ensures that babies are loved and cared for.
As you gaze into the face of your newborn, looking for some resemblance of yourself, you will find yourself thinking “So that’s what you look like!” and it will be as if deep inside, you always knew that she would look that way.