Health Library

Health Library

Newborn Warning Signs

What warning signs may indicate a problem with a newborn?

Your newborn baby is going through many changes in getting used to life in the outside world. Almost always this adjustment goes well, however there are certain warning signs you should watch for. Some general warning signs with newborns include, but are not limited to:

  • No urine in the first 24 hours at home. This can be difficult to assess, especially with disposable diapers.

  • No bowel movement in the first 48 hours.

  • A rectal temperature over 100.4 degrees F (38 degrees C) or less than 97.5 degrees F (36.5 degrees C).

  • A rapid breathing rate over 60 per minute, or a blue coloring that does not go away. Newborns normally have irregular respirations, so you need to count for a full minute. There should be no pauses longer than about ten seconds between breaths.

  • Retractions, or pulling in of the ribs with respirations.

  • Wheezing, grunting, or whistling sounds while breathing.

  • Odor, drainage, or bleeding from the umbilical cord.

  • Yellow coloring of the eyes, chest, or extremities.

  • Crying, irritability, or twitching which does not improve with cuddling and comfort.

  • A sleepy baby who cannot be awakened enough to nurse or nipple.

  • Any signs of sickness (for example, cough, diarrhea, pale color).

  • The baby's appetite or suck becomes poor or weak.

Every child is different, so trust your knowledge of your child and call your child's doctor if you see signs that are worrisome to you.

Newborn Warning Signs - WellSpan Health

Online Medical Reviewer: Grantham, Paula, RN, BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
© 2014 WellSpan Health. All Rights Reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

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