Newborn Care
Includes Newborn Nursing and Parenting

Newborn nursing is both an art and a science

Every moment of newborn care is full of excitement and challenges. It demands compassion, dedication and affection. Neonates with their delicate stature and demanding cry arouse parenting instinct with an instant desire to care for them.

Newborn needs are urgent, continuous, and often unclear

Their subtle signals need to be acknowledged promptly and attended to empathetically. This often causes a lot of physical and emotional stress to newborn care provider. Therefore the psychological make up of parents and other newborn care providers plays a major role in effective newborn parenting. Along with parenting, parents need to be alert about vital functions of newborn babies.

Explore "Newborn Care Forum " Post Questions & Comments 

Newborns' temperature maintenance

Temperature maintenance is crucial and forms the basis of newborn care.

What should be the optimal body temperature of a newborn infant?

Axillary / Aarm-pit temperatures between 36.4 to 37.0°C (97.0-98.5°F) are the normal limits for newborn's body temperature.

Why are newborn infants at risk for heat loss and hypothermia?

  • Their thermo regulatory mechanism is inadequate for their needs.

  • Relative to body weight, the body surface area of a newborn infant is approximately three times that of an adult.

  • Newborn babies are more prone to loss of body heat.
    The estimated rate of heat loss in a newborn is approximately four times that of an adult. This is because, the ability to produce body heat mostly depends on body weight, but heat loss depends on surface area.
Newborn Nursing: Temperature Maintenance Is Crucial & Forms the Basis of Newborn Care

In effort of keeping newborns warm can their temperature rise too high?

Yes it can.
Newborn care givers are alerted by infants' crying much earlier (the green zone in the picture given above) in response to cold stress in comparision to the warm stimulus.

Reason being:
Newborn's cold receptors reside in skin, whereas warm receptors are in hypothalamus (Brain growth and development).

Nearby warming appliances discouraged in routine newborn care

In newborn nursing use of nearby heat radiators or hot water bottles to supply additional heat is positively discouraged.

Approved methods of keeping infants warm in normal newborn care

  • Immediately after birth and during first couple of weeks:
    Skin-to-skin contact with the mother, known as
    kangaroo care, is the optimal method of maintaining temperature in a stable newborn baby.

  • How many layers of clothing should baby have to keep optimally warm?
    The rough judgement is that if a mother is comfortable in her night clothes than the newborn in baby gown and 2 blankets will be warm enough.

Signs to observe in newborn nursing

Respiration rate and rhythm

  • Breathing varies between 30-60 times per minute.

  • It depends on neonate’s activity status: wakefulness, crying or sleeping.

Heart rate

Heart beats per minute vary from 90 (in sleep) to 174 beats per minute during activity.

Skin Color

  • Normally: Light pink.

  • Dark pink appearance is usually seen if the body temperature rises; as seen in extra warming or fever.

  • Cyanosis is bluish discoloration of the lips and nails of toes and fingers.

Explore "Newborn Care Forum " Post Questions & Comments 

Is my baby feeding adequately?

Breast feeding


  • Hiccups are normal in newborns.

  • They are not the manifestation of any disease process in the neonates.

  • Newborn babies develop hiccups especially after a good feed.
    ull stomach gets distended with milk and the swallowed air, which irritate the over lying diaphragm (a strong muscle that separates chest cavity from the abdomen cavity).

Urine output

Being vigilant about urine output cannot be overemphasized: It is an important facet of newborn nursing. It determines newborn health and adequacy of infant's daily feed intake.

  • A well fed newborn baby should have 5 - 8 wet diapers per 24 hours.

  • A newborn should pass urine at least once within 24 hours after the birth. Most babies pass urine just at the time of delivery which goes unnoticed.

  • In the first 36 hours of life, normal range of urine flow is about
    25-50 millilitres per kilo body weight, that would say minimum of 3 wet diapers in first 36 hours of life. Thereafter the rate of urine flow in a neonate is double or more.

Newborn baby's body measurements

Body weight 

Birth weight of a normal full-term baby is approximately 3.2 kilos, the range being 2.8 to 4 kilos. Newborn nurses usually record it within the first hour of life and certainly within first 24 hours after birth.

Newborns loose weight for the first 3 to 7 days of life to the maximum of 10 percent of the birth weight, which they regain rapidly in next 3 to 4 days. This temporary loss of weight is attributed to loss of extra proportion of body water of newly born infant.

During the next 20 days of the neonatal period, newborn baby's weight gain is 10 - 15 grams per day per kilo of the body weight. Consequently, by the end of neonatal phase, a well growing newborn has 500 to 1000 grams of weight gain over and above the birth weight.

Head circumference

For baby at birth it varies from 32 to 35 centimetres, which is about 2 cm. larger than the chest circumference.

Neonate’s body length

  • It varies from 42.5 to 52.5 cm.

  • Neonate gains about 2 cm. per month for the first 6 months.

Good newborn nursing and efficient parenting would be to maintain growth chart for the baby right from start.

For more on Early Development; vital phase of childhood development click

Sleep and activity pattern

Newborn activity

In spite of the common belief that a newborn cannot move on his accord, newborn nursing demands that a newborns are never left unattended at places from where they can fall.

Baby’s vigorous movements create a momentum and you may find him suddenly on the floor. Falls are dangerous for newborns and so is sudden vigorous shaking.


  • Babies are usually easily consolable during their crying episodes.

  • If not consolable, medical attention is recommended.

  • There is more under Newborn Crying and Consolability

Sleep pattern and posture

Newborn sleep pattern lays the biggest hurdle for newborn nursing. 
Association of sleep posture with SIDS and ambiguity of newborn alertness add to parental anxiety. (Passive smoking is also related to SIDS)

Though most newborns sleep 16 to 20 hours of the 24 hours cycle, the mothers are usually severely deprived of sleep. Why? Find your answers in Newborn nursing dilemmas related to newborn sleep

Liked what you read just now? Pay it forward!


  • Vomiting is common in newborns

  • Usually it is a normal phenomena if It is occasional & contains only milk and mucus.

  • It generally occurs soon after a meal

  • Produces a much greater volume than spitting up (regurgitation).

When should a doctor be consulted for vomiting in newborns?

  • Yellow bile stained

  • Blood stained vomitus
    Immediately after birth bloody vomit could be due to swallowed maternal blood.

  • Very forceful vomiting

  • Frequent vomiting

  • Vomiting in a febrile or otherwise sick baby

  • Vomiting associated with excessive crying.

  • Associated with poor weight gain.

What are the causes of vomiting in normal newborns?

  • Feeding disorder

  • Improper burping

  • Air swallow

  • Over feeding

  • Anxiety or depression in the mother

Have a Question? Ask the Expert and Get the Answer for Free


What is regurgitation?

  • Regurgitation is an effortless back flow of feeds from the stomach.

  • It is not the same as vomiting.

  • It is also known as spitting up.

  • The milk that flows out is usually undigested or only partially digested, and is often mixed with sticky secretions of the stomach.

  • It is usually not a symptom of a disease.

How can regurgitation be prevented in newborns?

Adequate burping is essential in newborn nursing to prevent frequent regurgitation.

Is regurgitation harmful?

Usually not.
It almost never involves choking, coughing, discomfort, or danger to the infant.

How often and when do babies regurgitate?

  • There is no particular time pattern associated with regurgitation tendencies in infants. Babies regurgitate even during their sleep.

  • Tendency to regurgitate varies: Some babies bring up more than others.

  • Most grow out of it by the time they learn to sit.
    However, a few “heavy spitters” continue until much later.

  • Neonate's spitting up can not be totally overcome even under most diligent newborn nursing.

How can regurgitation be minimized?

It can certainly be minimized by -

  • Safe guard your baby from effects of second hand smoke.

  • Making feeding time calm and free of distractions.

  • Burping the baby intermittently during feeding and after each feed.

  • Feeding the infants in semi reclined or sitting position.

  • Do not jostle or play vigorously with the baby immediately after feeding.

  • Avoid rapid feeding

    a.) Feed before an infant gets frantically hungry.

    b.) The hole in the nipple in bottle feeding should not be too big, which lets the formula flow too fast.

    c.) Too small hole of the nipple in bottle feeding leads to frustration in infants and increases air swallow.

    The nipple hole is considered to be of a proper size when drops fall spontaneously at slow rhythmic intervals on inverting the bottle.

  • Sleep posture

    a.) Elevate the head of the entire crib with blocks (don’t use a pillow)

    b.) Infant should be put to sleep on the back.

Liked what you read just now? Pay it forward!

Meconium: Passage of blackish stools

What is meconium?

  • Meconium is very dark green colour (blackish) stools (poop), that a newborn baby passes during first 2-3 days of life.

  • The blackish stools in first 2 to 5 days of life are normal.

  • Meconium consists of antenatal accumulation of bile stained intestinal secretions, intestinal debris and cells.

What are breast milk stools?

  • Over 3 to 5 days he breast feeds get adequately established and the accumulated black tarry stools are all passed out, baby passes breast milk stools.

  • Due to adequate intake of milk the color of stools changes to pale yellow and the consistency; from soft to slightly watery.

How often should a newborn baby pass stools normally?

The frequency of poops pose a major confusion during newborn nursing: It varies from once in 2 days to 8 times in 24 hours.

Newborn stools that demand medical attention.

  • White clay coloured stools.

  • Colorless meconium plugs.

  • Failure of passage of meconium in first 24 hours.

Umbilical cord care

Umbilical Cord Care Is an Important Component of Newborn Care
  • Usually umbilical
    cord dries
    and separates
    by eighth day of life.

  • Umbilicus
    heals completely
    by 15 days of life.
  • Delay of more than 3 weeks
    Cord separation after 3 weeks of life should be evaluated by a medical professional; could be associated with underlying immune disorder (healing mechanism).

  • Foul smell from the drying cord
    Week unpleasant smell can often be appreciated while the cord is drying, which disappears with adequate cleaning.

    Really repulsive foul smell that does not go away even after cleaning should be assessed by a professional newborn nurse or doctor.

Why does umbilical cord need cleaning?

As the cord dries, the tissue fluid seeps out and accumulates around its base. It forms a rich media for bacterial growth. Therefore the cord area should be kept clean and dry.

What is the preferred way of keeping umbilical cord clean?

During routine newborn nursing, sterile water alone is preferred for cleaning of the umbilical cord, its base and the surrounding skin. Entire cord and the surrounding area is wiped with sterile water swab 3-4 times a day.

Some prefer to use mild cleanser with neutral pH (5.5 to 7.0), but they, alcohol and other topical drying agents should be avoided.

  • They do not have any additional benefits.

  • Do not shorten cord separation time.

  • Do not decrease risk of infection.

  • Topical antibiotics and antiseptics may actually prolong cord separation.

Care of baby’s external-genitals

Female Baby: Vaginal discharge

  • Mucoid whitish discharge

    It is often seen during early neonatal days.

    This does not signify any abnormality.

    Needs to be just wiped of by wet cotton swab.

  • Blood stained discharge

    It is often noticed on 5-7 day of life due to withdrawal of mother’s hormones from the baby's blood circulation.

    This is never a heavy bleed, but just spotting and subsides spontaneously in 2 -5 days.

    It does not need any medical management.

  • Foul smelling whitish discharge

    Indicates abnormality

    Demands immediate professional attention.

Male baby: Foreskin

  • It is normally tight during neonatal period

  • Should be left alone during newborn nursing.

  • Retracting foreskin is not possible in early infancy

  • Any manipulation of foreskin during early infancy can it.

Bathing a newborn

Bathing a newborn is best if deferred until 48 to 72 hours after birth. During first 2 - 3 days of life the body temperature of newborns is unstable and abrupt body heat loss can jeopardize baby's well being.

Precautions to be taken while bathing a newborn

  • Prevent body heat loss

  • Avoid injury to the baby

    a.) Can slip from hands due to soap and water effect

    b.) Soap irritation in the eyes

    c.) Near drowning situation is easy to arise - need to guard against it.

Newborn nursing is labor of love and it demands the best of parenting,
a great source of unmatched gratification.  

Browse for related pages on right column of the page.

Explore "Newborn Care Forum " Post Questions & Comments 

Liked what you read just now? Pay it forward!

Can't find answer to your concern? Search the site! 

Click Here to Post your Questions: It's Free

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.
Child Health Explanation

Child Health Explanation

Home Page

Child Health Explanation
Follow Me

XML RSSChild Health Blog Feeds
  • follow us in feedly
  • Add to My Yahoo!
  • Add to My MSN
  • Subscribe with Bloglines

FREE Monthly Zine

First Name

Don't worry — your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you Child Health Chat.

Liked what you just read?
Pay It Forward!

Affiliate Products

Related Pages

Neonates at birth

What to expect?

Vernix Caseosa

Lanugo Hair

Mongolian Spots


Epstein's Pearls

Childbirth affects Newborn Health

Head Molding

Overriding of sutures

Caput succeedaneum


Birth cry

Birth injuries

Birth Hypoxia


Large for gestational age

Factors that influence birth weight

Impaired fetal growth - IUGR

Effect of Vacuum Assisted LSCS (Caesarean) on the Baby

IVF and Child Health

Parenting Newborns

Psychological preparation for motherhood

Postpartum depression

Postpartum Psychosis

Mother-child bonding

Talk to your baby

Newborn sleep pattern

Effects of maternal deprivation

Infant Bonding

Baby Blues

Newborn Nursing

Newborn body temperature

Vital signs

Body weight

Length & Head circumference

Urine & Meconium

Breast milk stools




Umbilical cord care

Care of baby’s extra-genitals

Bathing a newborn

Exposure to Mold in Pregnancy: Does It Affect The Baby?

Newborn Growth

Gestational age related newborn growth groups

Birth weight related newborn growth groups

Physical statistics of normal newborns

Newborn growth velocity

Weight gain

Body length

Head circumference

Depression during Pregnancy

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Liked what you just read?
Pay It Forward!

Jaundice in Newborns

Overriding of Skull Bone Sutures

Crying & Consolability

Why Newborns Cry

Indications for Medical Attention


Child of Rage

Newborn Sleep Related Dilemmas

Newborn Sleeping Posture

Newborn’s State of Alertness

Tobacco Hinders Breastfeeding 

Colic in Newborn Babies

What is infantile colic?

Causes of infantile colic

How can colic be relived?

Causes of Frequent Urination

Constipation in Infancy

Shivering After Urination

Facial Tics or Subtle Seizures?

Post GBS Meningitis Seizures

Jitteriness In Newborns


Neonatal seizures

Twitching in newborns

Infant with Gastroesophageal Reflux & Dystonia gets Ankle Clonus

Effects of Passive Smoking

Newborn Care Forum - FREE

Ask & Answer Your Concerns On Newborn Care

Get Pregnant: Conceiving after Abortion

Affiliate Products

Portals to Post

Ask Doc Your Concerns

Q & A on Newborn Care

Parenting Tips

Childhood Creativity

Taste Buds Tickling Recipes

Teenage Tussles

Child Health News

Guest Post Submission

Your child's milestones

Happy with child health care?

What age should schooling start?

Liked what you just read?
Pay It Forward!

Post & Explore Books

Books for children

Author's book reviews

Reader's book reviews

Affiliate Products