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Jaundiced Newborn

Disponible En Espanol

Care at Home

  • BOTTLEFED: * If bottle fed, increase how often you feed your baby. * Try to feed every 2 to 3 hours during the day. * Don't let your baby sleep more than 4 hours at night without a feeding.
  • BREASTFED: * If breastfed, increase how often your feed your baby. * Nurse your baby every 1½ to 2 hours during the day. * Don't let your baby sleep more than 4 hours at night without a feeding. * Goal: At least 10 feedings every 24 hours.
  • INCREASE STOOLS: * If your baby is 5 days or older AND has less than 3 stools per day, try to increase stools. Do this by carefully putting a lubricated thermometer into the anus. Put it in no more than ½ inch (12 mm). Then, gently move it from side to side a few times. This will help your baby pass a stool. * Reason: Increased stools carry more bilirubin out of the body. * Do this once or twice per day until jaundice improves. Also, do this until stool frequency becomes normal.
  • WHAT TO EXPECT: * Physiological jaundice peaks on day 4 or 5. * It slowly goes away over 1-2 weeks.
  • JUDGING JAUNDICE: * Jaundice starts on the face and moves downward. Try to determine where it stops. * View your baby unclothed in natural light near a window. * Press on the skin with a finger to remove the normal skin tone. * Then try to look if the skin is yellow before the pink color returns. * Move down the body, doing the same. Try to look where the yellow color stops. * Jaundice that only involves the face and eyes is always harmless. As it involves the chest, the level is going up. If it involves the stomach, arms or legs, the bilirubin level needs to be checked.
  • CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF: * Jaundice gets worse * Legs turn yellow * Feeds poorly or has a weak suck * Baby starts to look or act abnormal * Jaundice lasts more than 14 days
  • WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: * Some jaundice is present in 50% of newborns. * It lasts a short time and will go away. Most often, it is harmless. * The first place for jaundice to start is in the whites of the eyes. * Jaundice that is only of the face and eyes is always harmless. * Here is some care advice that should help.


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  • Not a Substitute - The information and materials in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker should not be used as a substitute for the care and knowledge that your physician can provide to you.
  • Supplement - The information and materials presented here in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker are meant to supplement the information that you obtain from your physician. If there is a disagreement between the information presented herein and what your physician has told you -- it is more likely that your physician is correct. He or she has the benefit of knowing your child's medical problems.
  • Limitations - You should recognize that the information and materials presented here in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker have the following limitations, in comparison to being examined by your own physician:
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    • Your child could have an underlying medical problem that requires a physician to detect.
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