What's Normal for My Newborn?

Normal Eyes and Skin

Baby's Eyes

baby?s face

Fancy Photography/ Veer

What's normal: You may see small, red hemorrhages on the whites of the eyes from tiny blood vessels rupturing during delivery. These red marks normally disappear within a few days. Plus, the eye medication doctors use at birth to prevent infection may irritate baby's eyes, causing some lid swelling or discharge that usually lasts only a day or two.

Newborns have weak vision; they can only see images clearly within 8 to 15 inches of their face. Because you're in clear view while your baby is feeding, use that time to bond by maintaining eye contact. And don't worry if he sometimes looks back at you cross-eyed, or if his eyes occasionally wander: Newborns may not always focus their eyes together.

What's not: Contact your pediatrician if you notice drainage that persists past two days or reappears shortly after being wiped away, excessive tearing, a cloudy cornea, a whitish pupil, an eyelid that droops or doesn't completely close, unequally sized pupils, or any persistent eye misalignment.

Baby's Skin

What's normal: Your baby's immature circulation can make her skin look mottled if she's cold, or make her hands and feet feel cool and appear bluish in the morning for the first day or two.

A yellowing of the skin, called jaundice, occurs in 60 percent of healthy newborns; it comes from bilirubin, a pigment made by red blood cells a newborn's immature liver can't effectively clear away. Jaundice typically peaks between 3 and 5 days after birth and resolves by 1 week of age. Sometimes treatment may be necessary.

What's not: A baby's face and lips may briefly turn blue during vigorous crying, but a persistent blueness of the skin, lips, or tongue, known as cyanosis, can be due to a heart abnormality, breathing problem, or other illness requiring immediate medical intervention.

While slight jaundice is harmless, very high levels of bilirubin may cause kernicterus, a type of brain damage that can result in cerebral palsy, hearing loss, and even death. Risk factors include being premature, being of East Asian or Mediterranean descent, having siblings who had severe jaundice, developing jaundice on the first day of life, bruising at birth, and not getting enough milk when nursing. High-risk babies are monitored carefully in the hospital and after discharge. Treatment can be provided to prevent kernicterus.

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