Common Infant Conditions

Bringing your baby home from the hospital is both exciting and stressful, especially for first-time moms. Your baby is probably healthy, but there are some common infant conditions your baby may experience.

Most babies do not get sick during the first six weeks of life. However, a few conditions are common in babies this young including:

Jaundice

Many newborn babies develop yellow skin when their liver cannot get rid of a substance in the blood called bilirubin. This condition is called jaundice. Jaundice usually appears on the second or third day of life in healthy babies who are born full-term. It's very common and may occur sooner in preterm babies.

The yellow skin first appears on the face and then moves down the body toward the toes. In most cases, the condition is mild and disappears on its own without any special treatment. If you notice your baby’s skin color becoming yellow, call your pediatrician.

To check your baby's bilirubin level, we take a small amount of blood from his heel. If the jaundice requires treatment, we often use a technique called phototherapy. This treatment involves placing your baby under special ultraviolet lights called "bili-lights." Exposing the skin to these lights helps your baby's body get rid of bilirubin faster. This treatment may be done in the hospital or in your home through a home care agency.

Call your baby’s doctor if you see any of these signs:

  • Skin becomes more yellow on the abdomen, arms or legs
  • Eyes look yellow
  • Listlessness or difficult to awaken
  • Not gaining weight
  • Feeding poorly
  • Fever
  • Decreased urination

Cradle Cap

Cradle cap is a scaly, greasy-looking crust that forms on your baby’s head. You may see redness of the scalp, too. Prevent cradle by shampooing his head with baby shampoo every day. Your baby’s doctor may recommend medicated shampoo.

If cradle cap does occur, brush the head with a soft baby brush and apply baby oil to the scalp. Let the oil soak into the crust. After the crust softens, gently scrub or brush the head and shampoo again. Do not put oil on the head after it has been washed.

Check with your baby’s doctor if what you thought was cradle cap doesn't clear up.

Cold

Signs of a cold include sneezing, coughing, or a runny or stuffy nose. If your baby has a cold, he may have trouble nursing or taking a bottle. To make breathing easier, add more moisture to your baby's room with a clean humidifier. Also, suction mucus out his nose using a soft bulb syringe.

If your baby has a fever greater than 99.6°F axillary (temperature taken in the armpit), talk to your doctor about how to control it. Never give your baby aspirin to bring the fever down. Aspirin may cause serious problems in children, including a disease called Reye's syndrome.

Call your baby's doctor if you think he might have more than a cold or if his symptoms get worse.

Thrush

Thrush is a painful fungal yeast infection of the mouth that causes white patches to form inside of your baby’s mouth. These patches may look like formula or milk. If the white patches cannot be wiped away using a soft cloth, your baby may have thrush.

Call your pediatrician if your baby:

  • Does not want to suck or eat.
  • Looks or acts very sick.
  • Shows signs of a very dry mouth or no tears and no urine in more than 8 hours.

If you are breastfeeding and your baby has thrush, contact your doctor because you may also need treatment.

Sneezing

Newborns sneeze frequently to clear nasal passages. This is normal and a natural defense against illness. It doesn’t necessarily mean the baby has a cold.

Hiccups

During or after eating, your baby may get the hiccups. This is normal and will soon stop. Sucking on a pacifier, taking a few sips from a bottle or breastfeeding may help your baby get rid of the hiccups.