Newborn – The Most Severe Signs to Watch for

severe signs in newborn

The joys of parenthood are never ending, unfortunately so are the growing list of worries when the newborn wakes up coughing or wheezing due to an unknown cause. Those helpless little gasps can be heart wrenching and make you feel absolutely helpless. However what has your stomach in knots could turn out to be nothing but a common cold. Here are some symptoms to watch for to ease your anxious mind and let you know for sure when you need to call the doctor.


The most recognizable sign of cyanosis is your child’s lips or mouth turning bluish in color. If it is not cold out and you didn’t just leave the swimming pool, it could be a serious side effect of lack of oxygen or blood circulation; which may occur as a result of asthma, pneumonia or issue with the heart.

What you should do:

First, check to see if they have swallowed something that is blocking their airways, such as food or a small object. If nothing is found, monitor their breathing patterns, is it normal? Are they having trouble breathing? If they seem normal otherwise, contact your doctor for further evaluation. You should call the doctor immediately if there are any additional reactions such as seizures, fever, or unresponsiveness.

Labored Breathing

Common amongst babies with cold or allergy but may be an indication of respiratory distress syndrome. If their nasal passages are relatively clear and they are heaving heavily from the chest but the air is not escaping their nose, it may be an issue with baby’s lungs. This is seen most commonly in pre-term births as the newborn may not have had the time needed to properly develop. Other signs to look for include:

  • Less wet diapers
  • Fast or shallow breathing patterns
  • Strange movements
  • Nasal flaring or short stops while breathing

What you should do:

Although most of the time, this issue is seen very soon after birth. If you witness any of the above symptoms at home, contact your doctor right away or visit the emergency room if necessary.

Very Yellow Skin (Jaundice)

Many babies are born with varying shades of yellowish tint to their skin; it is not unusual and typically will go away by itself. However if your newborn begins to look more yellow it could mean their liver is not doing its job allowing a bilirubin build up which could lead to brain defects, seizing, and or lasting impairment.

What you should do:

If the jaundice isn’t too severe, a little extra time spent in shaded sunlight or more frequent feedings to flush out excess bilirubin should do the trick. In worsening cases, your baby may require time under an ultraviolet light and in rare cases a blood transfusion. Contact your health care provider right away, if you suspect your newborn has a severe case of jaundice.  

Bright Green or Dark Brown Vomit

We all know that babies and children can spew their guts for many different reasons most of which are non-life threatening. On the other hand, doctors warn that if their bile is bright green or coffee colored, it could be the side effect of a more serious problem.

What you should do:

Bright Green= Possible blocked intestines; contact your doctor or emergency room

Dark Brown= May indicate internal bleeding; rush to the emergency room.

Your newborn could also need to be checked out if he/she vomit after a head trauma as it might be caused by bleeding in the brain.

With all the questions you have about your child’s health, it is good to know that you are not alone and there is always plenty of wisdom on hand by way of doctors or the internet to ease your heavy mind.   

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