Normal Feet, Weight, and Overall Health
What's Normal: Babies are tightly curled while in the uterus, so it's natural for a newborn's feet to turn inward from the toes. This should self-correct within a few months because baby is now kicking freely in the outside world.
What's Not: If the front part of a baby's foot is markedly curved inward and cannot be straightened with gentle pressure, then referral to a pediatric orthopedic surgeon may be necessary for treatment before she starts to walk.
You may wonder whether your baby is receiving the nourishment he needs. General guideline: Don't wait for him to cry to get the hint that he's hungry. Instead, look for early clues from your infant, such as bringing his hands to his mouth, waking up from sleep, flexing arms and legs, and moving his mouth or tongue. Here are two more clues that all is well.
- Weight: Newborns lose no more than 7 to 10 percent of weight in the first few days after birth. Then, they should start gaining weight fairly quickly -- close to 1 pound every two weeks, for the first two to three months of life. The rate of gain then tapers off.
- Stool: The first bowel movement, known as meconium, is a tarry black or dark-green substance. By the second or third day of life, meconium changes to greenish brown transitional stools. And on the fourth or fifth day, breastfed babies start to pass yellowish, semisolid, or seedy stools; formula-fed infants' excrement ranges in color from pale yellow to yellow-brown, tan, or brown-green and has a peanut butter consistency.
Call your pediatrician immediately if your infant is 2 months or younger and has a fever over 100.4? or another sign of illness, such as:
- poor feeding (sleeping past feeding times or drinking small amounts)
- excessive irritability or listlessness
- poor complexion (pale, gray, or yellow)
- cough or rapid or labored breathing
- vomiting, when it's forceful, persistent, or the vomited material is stained yellow or green
- frequent, watery bowel movements or blood in stools
- rash, especially with blisters at any stage
- abnormal movements, such as twitching of the face or arms
Congratulations! You've completed this crash course on understanding your newborn's body and should feel confident in identifying what is or isn't a natural part of your baby's physical development. That's not to say you still won't have occasional questions, but, at least, you now might consider removing your pediatrician's number from speed dial.
Marianne Neifert, MD, also known as Dr. Mom, is a clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, in Denver, an author of four parenting books, a professional speaker, and a mother of five.
Originally published in American Baby magazine, November 2005.
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.