Taking your newborn baby home from the hospital can be thrilling for parents. Parents spend months preparing themselves by learning how to take care of their newborns. One thing that plenty of parents are concerned about is how their newborn is doing. As babies do not come into this world with an instruction manual, most parents wish that they did. Confirming whether your newborn is ill may be a challenging task as you might not be aware of the normal behavior of your baby.
It is essential to be aware of the signs and symptoms that could mean that your baby is sick. A change in your baby’s behavior can be one of the first signals to indicate if your baby is feeling sick. Newborns are at a higher risk of infections, as their immune systems are not strong enough after birth. And once babies get an infection, it can worsen quickly. Any changes in your baby’s cries, activity, or feeding levels may indicate illness. You should contact your baby’s doctor right away if you recognize any of the following warning signs in your newborn baby.
Lack Of Movement
Most common in newborns, Erb’s palsy is a birth injury that takes place if a baby’s neck gets stretched in a particular direction during a difficult delivery. This causes damage to the brachial plexus, a network of nerves that control movement and sensation in the arms. Symptoms of Erbs palsy include paralysis, lack of sensation in arms and shoulders, and weakness. Parents should monitor if the baby is having limited movement in their arms or showing poor reflexes. These symptoms are recognizable at birth since it was caused by nerve damage during delivery. Luckily, it is usually temporary, and treatment can be started right away depending on the extent of damage to the nerves.
Babies often develop high fevers when they are sick. Fever may be the first and only sign of an infection in infants under three months. Respiratory infections such as cold, pneumonia, viral and bacterial illnesses can all cause fever. You can check for your baby’s fever rectally by using a digital or glass rectal thermometer. If your infant has a temperature reading of 100.4 F or more, you should visit the doctor immediately.
About 60% of newborn babies get jaundice, which is a common and harmless condition in which the baby’s skin and eyes turn yellow. This happens when a chemical called bilirubin accumulates in the baby’s blood. Most mild cases of jaundice go away on their own. However, high levels of bilirubin can cause serious problems. Doctors can check if a newborn has jaundice based on yellowing skin and whites of the eyes. Blood tests can be done to check for bilirubin levels. In some cases, extra feedings help to get rid of jaundice.
Vomiting or Diarrhea
These could indicate a viral or bacterial infection of the intestines of the baby. If a newborn vomits or develops diarrhea, it is urgent to bring them to a doctor than you would bring an older child. An important warning sign is fewer wet diapers of the baby. If they are not passing enough urine, then they are likely to become dehydrated. If a child is having green vomits, this could be an indication of obstruction in the intestine. Vomit is green when it contains bile, a green liquid that comes from below the stomach.
Crying is the only way through which babies communicate. Over time, babies cry depending on whether they need food, sleep, cuddles, or a diaper change. Parents eventually learn to understand their baby’s cries and respond by giving what they need and cuddling them. However, if a newborn begins to cry persistently, has an unusual cry, or is continuously fussy, it may indicate that they are in pain. Colic may also be one of the reasons causing your baby to cry. Colic is a painful intestinal problem in which an otherwise healthy baby cries for more than three hours for no reason at all. Gas can also be another source of fussiness in a baby.
Healthy babies can breathe easily and shallowly. Most of the time, if your newborn has trouble breathing, this could mean that their nasal passages are blocked by mucus. This can be remedied by using saline drops and sucking out mucus. However, other signs indicate your baby could be having respiratory problems like fast breathing, having a barking cough, or wheezing. A change in the baby’s breathing problems may mean that there is a serious problem, and you should seek medical assistance right away.
If your newborn infant feels inactive, refuses to feed, develops vomiting or diarrhea, or has a fever, it is important to call your baby’s doctor immediately and get prompt medical attention.