Sunday, 09 November 2014
Your baby’s sex is decided at the moment of conception and it all hangs on whether your X-chromosome (female) egg is fertilized by an X-chromosome or Y-chromosome (male) sperm. If an X chromosome penetrates the egg first it’s X + X, meaning you have conceived a baby girl.
There has long been debate over whether nature or nurture is responsible for the differences between baby boys and baby girls – but MRI scanning techniques have revealed over a hundred minute differences between the male and female brain and these come into play the minute your baby is born, becoming even more apparent as she grows.
The oestrogen in her system affects her brain development, and she also has higher levels of the hormones serotonin and oxytocin. Serotonin affects mood, meaning that your baby girl may be less cranky and more easily soothed than a baby boy. Oxytocin is a hormone produced during sex and while lactating, and could be the key to a baby girl being more receptive to emotions than a baby boy.
What else can you expect from your baby girl?
Nappy changes will be more fiddly
With a baby girl you have to be extra careful to wipe from front to back as this can help to prevent poo from entering her vagina, which can result in a yeast infection (these are common in baby girls), and her urethra, which can jump start a urinary tract infection. In her first few days you will notice that your baby girls vulva is swollen and she may pass discharge – this is perfectly normal and results from oestrogen that entered her system from your body via blood passing through the placenta and umbilical cord. She also may have discharge from her nipples for the same reason.
Baby girls are often smaller
Baby girls tend to be born smaller than baby boys, although if you and your baby’s father are especially tall she may be larger than a baby boy whose parents are small. They tend to be healthier too: their skeletons are stronger, making them less vulnerable to injury, and they also seem less susceptible to developing complications from respiratory infections such as bronchiolitis. Premature baby girls typically thrive better than premature baby boys.
Baby girls love to be active!
Don’t be taken in by the fact your baby girl may seem less physically strong and active than a baby boy – she still needs to run and climb and kick and throw a ball. You shouldn’t treat her as any more fragile than a boy and a good workout will help her gross motor skills catch up with those of boys her age.
She’s keen to communicate with you
Baby girls are entranced by faces, and your baby will love nothing more than to be held up close to your face and will maintain eye contact with you for longer than a baby boy. It may be one reason why girls are better at reading emotions as they grow.
Her fascination with watching your features express emotion makes her a great mimic – from just a few hours old she may copy you if you slowly poke out your tongue at her.
Baby girls are good with their hands
Baby girls are better at fine motor movements performed with the fingers so your baby girl will probably be able to hold and control a piece of chalk or a crayon with more dexterity than a boy her age. They are better at playing with toys that require a degree of manipulation, such as twisting movements, and more proficient at using a spoon when it comes to self-feeding, and holding a pencil for writing later on.
Baby girls talk sooner
The fact she’s watching you that bit more closely and better able to register your voice means your baby girl is likely to understand what you are saying to her earlier than a baby boy would, and she’s more likely to try to communicate back with hand gestures such as waving and pointing, sooner too. She’ll talk sooner too: at around 12 months as opposed to around 14 months for a baby boy. By 16 months or so, your baby girl will know and be able to say up to 100 words, while a boy the same age will typically average around 30. She’ll string words together to form sentences earlier, and once she reaches preschool age she will use longer and more complex sentences than a boy.
Baby girls are better listeners
Baby girls are better able to hear noises in a higher register. The fact your baby girl is more attuned to your voice should mean that she is more inclined to listen to you (though we can’t guarantee it once toddler tantrums rear their ugly head!)
The fact her hearing is more acute means you can expect your baby girl to be more easily startled and upset by loud noises than a baby boy would be, and when it comes to toys that make noises she will prefer gentle sounds like music rather than the wailing sirens a baby boy would favour.
Baby girls are more sociable
Baby girls have better social skills than baby boys, mainly because they are better at communicating, and at empathizing with others. This means your baby girl might well be more independent than a baby boy would be, less apt to get upset if she isn’t in your presence and more inclined to play with other children a further distance from you than a boy the same age would be.
There’s no doubt that boys and girls are different and that working with those differences can help you be a happy parent raising a happy baby girl. But do bear in mind that your baby girl is an individual and be prepared for some exceptions to the rules.
If you have already found out you are expecting a little girl, why not chat to others who have found out too on our gurgle forum to see what you can expect
The information in this feature is intended for educational purposes only. If you have any concerns about your health, the health of your child or the health of someone you know, please consult with a doctor or other healthcare professional.