New baby – what’s normal and what’s not
Try putting the back of your hand on your baby’s tummy, this will tell you if they are hot or cold. It is common for babies to have cold hands and feet.
Happy – Your baby should feel warm to touch.
Not Sure – If your baby feels hot or cold try adding or removing a layer of clothes or blankets.
Unhappy – Seek immediate advice from your doctor if your baby feels hot after you have removed some layers OR if your baby’s body remains cold.
It is common for newborn babies to make all sorts of sounds, from occasional snorts to grunts, gurgles to whistling.
Happy – It’s normal for newborn babies to take slight pauses in their breathing lasting for a few seconds, or to go through short periods of rapid breathing. Babies tend to develop a more regular breathing pattern by 6 weeks of age.
Unhappy – If your baby is struggling to breathe (constantly rapid breathing rate above 70 breaths per minute, flaring of the nostrils, making a grunting noise every time they breath out or too breathless to feed), or if they are going blue (especially their tummy, lips or tongue), you need to call 999 for an ambulance.
Muscle tone and activity
In the early days your baby might have some involuntary movements and may appear very jumpy – this is normal. It is common for them to sneeze, stretch and hiccup.
Happy – They will be able to grasp your hand and will enjoy touching and stroking.
Not sure / Unhappy – Your baby should never be floppy or stiff for a prolonged period. Call a doctor if this applies to your baby, or if your baby’s shaking is rhythmic and doesn’t stop when you touch it. If you are unable to wake your baby, call 999 for an ambulance.
Colour and jaundice
Some babies may become yellow and this can be a sign of a condition called jaundice. About 50% of new born babies can develop jaundice.
Happy – Your baby should be a normal skin tone. Babies may have hands and feet that are blue for about 24 to 48 hours after birth.
Not sure – If your baby is yellow but waking for feeds, feeding well and having wet and dirty nappies, contact your midwifery or health visiting team who will monitor your baby closely.
Unhappy – Call your midwife or your health visitor if your baby isn’t feeding well, is sleepy and not having wet and dirty nappies. They will need to assess your baby today.
It is normal for babies to have poor control over their eyes and appear cross eyed at times. Eyes look grey – blue, or brown in colour. They will develop their eye colour from six to 12 months.
Happy – Your baby can have a small amount of discharge from their eyes. This is normal and needs to be cleaned with cool boiled water and cotton wool.
Not sure – If there is a lot of discharge clean your baby’s eyes regularly and contact your midwifery or health visiting team.
Unhappy – If your baby’s eyes look red and swollen call your doctor. This could be a sign of infection.
If your baby’s mouth is moist it means he/she is feeding well. You might even notice a blister on their top lip, which may even be present from birth. This is due to sucking and is normal.
Happy – A white tongue is normal after a feed.
Not sure – If you see white spots in your baby’s mouth which do not disappear in between feeds, contact your midwife or health visitor.
Unhappy – If the mouth is dry and your baby isn’t feeding well, call a midwife or health visitor urgently.
It may feel that you are feeding your baby all the time. However, the frequency with which your baby feeds changes as they get older, please discuss this with your midwife or health visitor*.
Happy – A well fed baby will be content during and after a feed and have wet and dirty nappies.
Not sure / Unhappy – If you have any feeding concerns, visit a breastfeeding support group or call your postnatal coordinator who will contact your midwifery or health visiting* team. If your baby is vomiting up a lot of milk, you should also inform your midwife or health visitor.
Wet and dirty nappies
The contents of your baby’s nappy changes from day to day in the beginning. Breast fed babies often poo after every feed. You should expect:
- Day one to four: Baby’s nappies are usually black/green in colour. It can look like thick tar or marmite!
- Day four to seven: Your baby’s nappies will start to change colour from black/green to yellow
- Day seven onwards. A baby’s nappy will be yellow. It will be soft and seedy if you are breastfeeding, or look like play dough if your baby is formula fed
Happy – Babies will normally have several wet nappies a day. Some baby girls can have a small bleed or a discharge from their vagina. This is because of maternal hormones and usually only lasts a few days. You may even notice a yellow or dark orange urine stain in the nappy. This is normal.
Not sure – If you are worried that your baby has not passed much urine (wee) you should feed them frequently. Put a little cotton wool in their nappy and you will know if they have passed urine.
Unhappy – From day 6 your baby should be having at least 6 heavy wet nappies in a 24 hour period. If you are concerned your baby is not passing enough urine (wee) contact your midwife, health visitor, the 111 service or your GP.
The umbilical cord will start to dry out and will usually fall off by the time your baby is two weeks old. The cord needs cleaning with cool boiled water and drying afterwards.
Happy – The cord can be sticky underneath, this is normal. There may be a spot of blood when the cord falls off. This is normal.
Unhappy – If you notice signs of infection, such as swelling, heat, redness and a smelly discharge contact your GP.
It is normal for your baby to have dry skin. Flaking is common and usually lasts 1-2 weeks. Babies under 4 weeks should be bathed in water only. This does not need to be every day, every 2-3 days is enough.
Not sure? If your baby’s skin is very dry, speak to your health visitor or pharmacist.
Unhappy? If the skin is itchy, sore, uncomfortable or broken contact your health visitor, pharmacist or GP.
Happy – Wash your baby with water. Avoid using cleansing products.
Not sure / Unhappy – If your baby’s skin is very dry ask your midwifery or health visiting team for advice at your next appointment.
Useful phone Apps for new parents
Baby Buddy is your personal baby expert who will guide you through your pregnancy and the first six months of your baby’s life. It has been designed to help you give your baby the best start in life and support your health and wellbeing.