Newborn Health Check: Recognizing Signs of Common Ailments

A mother swaddling her newborn baby.

Having a newborn brings excitement and so much love to a home, but it can also come with huge levels of worry. The first month of an infant’s life is the most dangerous, with many health conditions posing significant risks. One important aspect of newborn care is recognizing the signs of common ailments.

Why Watching for Signs of Illness Is Crucial

Your newborn is susceptible to infections and other health conditions because their immune systems are not yet working at their best. During the first seven days of life, in particular, newborn care mostly involves keeping them away from those who are ill.

Newborns who get sepsis, which results from the baby’s response to an infection, can be at serious risk. Sickness can progress rapidly and can even be life-threatening.

Pay close attention to your baby’s eating habits. They should be eating a lot. If you notice that your child doesn’t have an appetite, reach out for help from a medical professional. The rule of thumb is that if your newborn begins to act differently in any way, you have to reach out to your doctor.

Recognizing Signs of Colic

Colic refers to a baby crying for no apparent reason. It starts at any given time with loud and nonstop crying and is very difficult to stop. Babies with colic often have no other signs of distress than the crying.

Colic usually leads a baby to cry around the same time every day, usually in the afternoon. When the baby isn’t crying, they behave normally. Some of the signs of colic to look for are:

  • Curling their legs over their stomachs
  • Clenched fists
  • A look of pain on their face
  • Passing gas
  • Arched back
  • Hard, swollen abdomen
  • Bright red face

There are no connections between hunger or discomfort and colic. Even if your baby is colicky, they will continue to eat and gain weight.

Recognizing Signs of Respiratory Infections

Respiratory infections early in life can lead to the development of asthma and other breathing conditions later in life, which is why quickly identifying them is essential. Common viruses that can cause infections include rhinovirus, influenza virus, and syncytial virus.

Some of the symptoms you may notice include:

  • Runny nose
  • Cough
  • Hoarseness
  • Rash
  • Lack of appetite
  • Mild fever
  • Congestion
  • Irritability

It’s important to reach out to your child’s doctor for newborn care tips and for help managing respiratory infections. If a bacteria causes the infection, you may notice a higher fever and trouble sleeping, and they may struggle to breathe. Getting them quick medical attention is vital.

Recognizing Signs of Jaundice

In newborns, jaundice can develop because of an excess of bilirubin. The liver is not fully developed, so removing the bilirubin isn’t an efficient process yet. It can be more common in premature babies and those who breastfeed.

The main symptom of jaundice in newborns is seeing a yellowish tint to the skin. Usually, you will notice it in your child’s face first, but it can appear anywhere in the body. The color of the eyes and under the tongue can make jaundice more obvious, especially in babies with darker skin.

When to Call for Help

You want to call your newborn’s doctor if your baby doesn’t want to eat or is eating less than usual. If they have diarrhea or vomiting or are sleeping too much, you also want to contact the doctor.

Newborn care also includes looking for signs of swelling, especially in the head, or a fever that doesn’t seem to go away. Remember never to give a baby fever medication of any kind before consulting with the doctor. You also want to watch out for a body temperature lower than 96.8 degrees.

If your baby has the following symptoms for a few days without improvement, schedule an appointment with the doctor:

  • Urine color is pink, peach, or orange
  • You notice other changes that are not urgent
  • Have questions about any symptoms

Call emergency services immediately if your child can’t wake up, is very weak, has bluish or gray lips, or grunts or moans with each breath.

Newborn Care: Helping Your Child Through the First Illnesses

Recognizing signs of illness in your newborn means being able to offer them the treatment they need sooner. If you’re concerned about your infant’s health or you’d like more information, reach out to us at Newport Children’s Medical Group. Schedule an appointment today.