4 of the Most Common Infant and Newborn Health Problems and Solutions

Crying baby

Here are some of the most common conditions your child could experience their first few weeks after birth along with how to solve them.

Skin Problems

Infants and newborns can experience a wide variety of skin problems, such as diaper rash and cradle cap.

Diaper Rash

A Diaper Rash is any rash on the skin covered by a diaper, and it can be caused by several things. Most commonly it is caused by being in constant contact with stool or urine. Frequent diaper changes can prevent diaper rash, but sometimes this isn’t enough.

Your child’s health care provider may recommend the following diaper rash solutions:

  • Rinse the skin with warm water instead of using baby wipes, only using soap after bowel movements. Baby wipes are not normally recommended and can leave a film of bacteria behind.
  • Expose the skin to air as much as possible. This can be done by keeping the diaper loose around your child.
  • Rub petroleum jelly on the diaper rash. Petroleum jelly is easily cleaned and can provide a barrier between the baby’s skin and bowel movements.

Contact your child’s health care provider if the rash is not better in 3 days or if it becomes worse.

Cradle Cap

Cradle Cap is a skin condition when oily, scaly, or crusty patches form on your child’s scalp and is not itchy. Do not scratch cradle cap since the scales are not easy to remove. The condition usually clears up on its own in a few weeks or months. A possible solution to help loosen and remove the scales includes washing your baby’s scalp with a mild shampoo. If cradle cap continues or worsens, contact your child’s health care provider.

Jaundice

Jaundice is a condition that can cause the skin, eyes, and mouth of an infant to turn a yellow color. The yellow color is caused by a buildup of bilirubin, a substance produced in the normal breakdown of old red blood cells and in the forming of new ones.

The liver normally removes bilirubin, but for some infants, the liver may not be working at its full power. This causes the level of bilirubin to rise in the infant’s blood, causing them to turn a yellowish color – this is known as jaundice.

This is a normal condition in infants, but if the levels of bilirubin get too high in the infant’s blood, it could cause brain injury. All infants should see their healthcare provider if they have jaundice.

Most infants tend to have jaundice right after being born. After a few days of birth, the infant’s liver should catch up and start to remove the bilirubin. To help remove bilirubin for some, health care providers may prescribe phototherapy, a treatment using a special lamp.

Spitting up / Vomiting

Spitting up and vomiting is common in infants and newborns and it not normally an indication of a more serious problem. To prevent spitting up or vomiting, keep the infant in an upright position, avoid overfeeding, and take time to burp your baby. Contact your child’s health care provider if your child:

  • Isn’t gaining any weight
  • Spits up forcefully
  • Spits up green or yellow fluid
  • Spits up blood or material that looks like coffee grounds
  • Regularly refuses feedings
  • Has blood in their stool
  • Has difficulty breathing or other illnesses
  • Has fewer wet diapers than usual

Some parents may worry about their child spitting up while sleeping on their backs, causing them to choke. This is not the case. Babies may clear fluids easier on their backs. With how the windpipe is situated in the body, it makes it to where it is unlikely for fluids to cause choking.

It is recommended by the NICHD’s Safe to Sleep® Campaign for babies to sleep on their backs to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Ever since this recommendation was made in 1992, there has not been an increase in choking deaths. Actually, the majority of choking deaths is from infants sleeping on their stomachs.

Unexplained or Excessive Crying

All infants and newborns cry, sometimes for no obvious reason. If you have made sure that your baby has a clean diaper, been feed, burped, and is warm, the best solution is to talk to your infant, hold them, and swaddle them in a blanket. Eventually, you will be able to recognize your child’s cries and what they mean. If their cry ever sounds out of the ordinary, like if they are in pain, contact your child’s health care provider.

It is normal for infants to become fussy in the evenings, but if their cries do not stop and get worse, their cries bay be from colic. Colic is defined as a lot of crying once or twice a day when your child is less than 3 months old. With colic, the baby is usually consolable and acts normal in between bouts of crying. There is not much that can be done about colic, but it can go away by 3 or 4 months of age.