Newborn Illness - How to Recognize
Is this your child's symptom?
- How infections and other serious diseases can present in newborns
Why Newborns Need to be Watched Closely
- Newborns are at higher risk for infections. Infections may present at any time during the first month. Watch your baby carefully for signs of illness. This is especially crucial during the first 7 days of life.
- Newborns that get a blood infection (sepsis) can get very sick quickly.
- The symptoms of serious illness in newborns can be subtle. The question below deals with sick newborns:
- "Age under 1 month old (newborn) and starts to look or act abnormal in any way." Look for this question in the "Call Your Doctor Now" section. It is listed in at least 10 topics.
- Feeding is the one reliable measure of a newborn's well-being. Newborns should be eating machines. If your baby isn't feeding well, call your baby's doctor. Also, call if your baby has an abrupt change in his feeding pattern. (Exception: never a good feeder, but takes enough milk and nothing has changed).
- If how your baby looks or acts changes and it's not normal, call now. Don't wait to call your baby's doctor for expert advice.
When to Call for Newborn Illness - How to Recognize
Call 911 Now
- Can't wake up
- Not moving or very weak
- Bluish (or gray) lips, tongue or face now
- You think your child has a life-threatening emergency
Call Doctor or Seek Care Now
- Any symptoms of illness such as coughing, diarrhea or vomiting. Vomiting bile (green color) is always bad.
- Changes in feeding. Signs are having to wake up for feeds or can't finish feeds.
- Weak suck or can't suck for very long
- Sweating during feeds
- Sleeping more than normal
- Change in muscle tone (decreased or floppy)
- Decreased movement
- Change in color (such as pale, bluish or gray arms and legs)
- Age less than 12 weeks old with fever. Caution: do NOT give your baby any fever medicine before being seen.
- Low temperature below 96.8° F (36.0° C) rectally that does not go up with warming
- New moaning or grunting noises with each breath
- Change in cry, such as weak cry or strange cry
- You think your child needs to be seen, and the problem is urgent
Call Doctor Within 24 Hours
- Urine color is pink, orange or peach
- You think your child needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent. (Has none of the urgent symptoms listed above)
- You have other questions or concerns
Self Care at Home
- Your baby is feeding, moving and sleeping normally
- There are no signs of illness
- Your newborn is well
Care Advice for Newborns Without Signs of Illness
- What You Should Know About Newborn Illness:
- Based on this review, your baby doesn't have any signs of illness right now.
- The symptoms of serious illness in newborns can be subtle. Watch your baby carefully for signs of illness. If how your baby looks or acts changes and it's not normal, call now.
- During the early weeks of life, careful watching is always the best approach.
- Call Your Doctor If:
- Your baby has a fever
- Your baby has any symptoms of illness
- Your baby starts to look or act abnormal in any way
- You think your child needs to be seen
And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.
Disclaimer: this health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.
Last Reviewed: 01/19/2020
Last Revised: 03/14/2019
Copyright 2000-2019 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC.