What are the Most Common Illnesses to Look For in Your Newborn Baby?


The brief period after you bring home your newborn baby from the hospital can be a scary one. You’re getting accustomed to having a baby in the house and, even after reading all of the parenting books, you still aren’t sure what exactly to expect.

Your worst fear? That something will go wrong. Whether it’s your fault or not, something could go horribly wrong and your baby could fall dangerously ill — or at least that’s the thought, right?

But calm your new mom anxiety. The best thing you can do when you bring home a newborn from the hospital is to simply be prepared, at least as prepared as you can be as a new parent. You won’t know everything, but you can know some things — like the most common newborn illnesses to watch for and what to do if you think they may be impacting your child.

1. Colic

Colic isn’t always a serious issue, but it is one that can cause both you and your baby a severe amount of stress. They’re experiencing gastrointestinal distress but can’t really tell you what’s going on, and you just know you’ve got a baby who won’t stop crying.

If your baby is continuously crying and you can’t find a culprit, it may indeed be colic, in which case you’ll want to talk to your doctor about changing your baby’s diet.

2. Abdominal Distension

“Abdominal distention” is just a fancy phrase for what’s basically a food baby. After eating, your — or in this case, your baby’s — stomach extends and gives you a little extra chub. But if your baby’s food baby isn’t going away or if it feels firm to the touch, it may be a sign of a larger issue, from gastrointestinal distress to something more. If you notice this, paired with changing bowel movements, call your doctor.

3. Blue Baby

The name is cute, but the condition is not. Newborns are often a little off-colored anyway, at least compared to your own skin color, and it’s not uncommon for newborn babies to look a little blue around the hands or feet, especially if they’re cold.

But, if your baby is crying and that blue hue is creeping into their face or lips, it could be a sign of a serious issue. Call your doctor, but go a step further and pay a visit to your emergency room as well.

4. The Common Cold

Everyone gets them, even newborns. It’s something you’ll just have to get used to — children contract seasonal colds far more often than adults, including babies. Your child will likely have a cold every few months for the first year of their life. Symptoms are exactly what you’d expect — sneezing, runny nose, maybe a cough.

If you notice any of these, check with your doctor. While usually not serious, you do want to take the proper precautions and use the right cold medicine.

5. Jaundice

On the opposite end of the spectrum from blue baby, jaundice turns your child’s skin a yellowish hue, usually in the face and eyes. Typically, a mild case of jaundice is nothing to worry about and it’s often seen in children who are having trouble breastfeeding. However, it’s still important to let your doctor know if you suspect this in your child, as worsening cases can cause serious issues.

6. Ear Infections

Just like with the common cold, children are more likely than adults to wind up with an ear infection. Your infant may have an ear infection if you notice them pulling at their ears and crying more often. Usually, ear infections are nothing to worry about. All you’ll need to do is alert your pediatrician and use the prescribed antibiotic as instructed.

Talk to Your Pediatrician

Every newborn is different. Talk to your pediatrician about certain illnesses you may want to be on the look out for, as well as any general, overall signs that you should give them a call. Since a lot of the symptoms for minor and major infant illnesses are the same (general crying vs. excessive crying, spitting up vs. vomiting), don’t feel bad for contacting your pediatrician regularly. They’re there to help, no matter how small a symptom may seem.  

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Holly Riddle is a writer, editor and content manager with experience writing about a large variety of topics, from dietary supplements and hardware startups, to professional development and IIoT. Her two favorites, however, are travel and food. Before becoming a full-time freelancer and entrepreneur, she was the director of content at a publishing firm, overseeing editorial content and dozens of writers for more than 100 publications. She also created high-end marketing and PR campaigns on a regular basis. Previously, she was the assistant editor at a luxury travel magazine, where she still acts as the editor at large. Holly Riddle has been featured on a variety of major websites, including Forbes and Bloomberg.