Ask the Nurse: Your baby and Jaundice

How do i know if the baby has jaundice?

During the first weeks of life, many babies develop a condition called physiological jaundice. It usually starts on day 2-3 of life and ends by day 10.

Babies with jaundice have a yellow color to their skin and the whites of their eyes. The baby often is very sleepy and may be difficult to keep awake during feedings. The baby also has frequent and irritable crying spells.

What is jaundice?

Jaundice is caused by too much blirubin in the baby’s blood. When the newborn baby’s liver does not work fast enough to remove it, the bilirubin adds up and causes jaundice. Call your baby’s provider if your baby looks yellow or has an orange glow.

Tips if baby is jaundiced:

  • Call your provider ASAP.
  • Indirect sunlight will help to break up the bilirubin. (Not outdoors or direct sun, skin can burn). Dress baby in a diaper only so all of the skin is exposed.
  • Feed baby every 2 hours, as the protein in milk helps to break up the bilirubin.

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Posted By Karen Koslov Barski, BSN, RN, LNC
Certified Newborn Infant Care Specialist & Instructor,
Parenting Consultant

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