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You are here: Home -> Your New Baby -> Baby at Birth Today: Sunday, May 19
Pregnancy Topics
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More than One Baby!
Changes in Your Baby
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Single Mother-to-Be
Problems in Pregnancy
Labor and Delivery
After Your Baby's Birth
Your New Baby
Baby at Birth
Your Baby's Health
Your Baby's Sleeping Habits
Taking Care of Baby
Car Restraints - For Your Baby's Safety
Feeding Your Baby

Baby at Birth

After your baby is born, he or she will have some routine tests. The tests performed depend on your medical history, findings obtained during examination of the newborn and other factors. Tests performed on the baby include:
Brazelton neonatal behavioral assessment scale
Coombs test
assessment of neonatal maturity
reflex assessment
screening for hyperphenylketonuria, anemia and hypothyroidism
additional blood tests

Tests on the Newborn


How Test Is Performed

What Test Indicates

Apgar test

At 1 and 5 minutes

Gives an indication of


after birth, baby is

general condition at


assessed for color, heart

baby's birth.


rate, muscle tone, reflex

Helps hospital staff


response, breathing.

decide if newborn needs extra care. Each category receives a score from 0 to 2 points, for a maximum of 10 points. Does not indicate what future may hold.

Blood screen

Blood is taken from



baby's heel.

hyper-phenylketonuria, anemia and hypothyroidism.

Coombs test

Blood is taken from

Detects whether


umbilical cord if mother's



blood is Rh-negative, type 0 or has not been tested for antibodies.

have been formed.


Tests several specific

If a particular reflex is


reflexes, including the

not present, further


rooting and grasp reflexes.

evaluation is necessary.


Many characteristics of

Each characteristic is

of neonatal

baby are assessed to

assigned a score; sum


evaluate neuromuscular

indicates infant's


and physical maturity.



Tests broad range of

Provides information to


behaviors in babies

doctors and parents


where a problem is

about how a newborn


suspected. Some

responds to the


hospitals test all babies.


Other blood

Blood is taken from

Tests for sickle-cell anemia,


baby's heel.

blood-glucose levels or other problems. Results indicate whether baby needs further evaluation.

Birthweight. We've found three distinct differences in the birthweight of babies. However, these are general statements and do not apply in all cases.
Boys weigh more than girls.
Birthweight of an infant increases with the number of babies you deliver.
White babies at term weigh more than black babies at term.

Your Newborn's Appearance

A baby's head is large in proportion to the rest of her body. At birth, it measures one-quarter of her entire length. As she grows, this will change until her head is one-eighth of her adult height.


The shape of your baby's nose at birth may look funny to you— flat or lumpy, as though the baby has been in a fight. This shape has little to do with what it will look like when she is an adult. A newborn's nose may look too flat to breathe through, but babies do manage to breathe through them.


A baby may be born with lots of hair or none at all. If he has lots of hair, this first hair may fall out during the first 6 months and may be replaced by hair that may be entirely different in color and texture. If he doesn't have any hair, that's not a permanent condition, either. He will eventually grow hair.


A newborn's eyes are often swollen or puffy immediately after birth. This is caused by pressure in the birth canal and subsides in a few days.
Your baby's eyes may look greasy and a little red when the nurse brings him to you. His eyes may have been slightly irritated and reddened by the antibiotic ointment applied to them shortly after birth. This is used to prevent eye infections. Redness usually disappears within 48 hours after birth.
One of your baby's eyes may wander when she looks at you, or she may look cross-eyed. Don't worry. Her eye muscles aren't strong enough yet to control her eye movements. A wandering eye usually corrects itself by the time the baby is 6 months old. If she has a problem after that, discuss it with your pediatrician.
Skin folds at the inner corners of his eyes may make it look as if your baby is squinting at you. As time passes, these folds become less prominent, and he won't look as if he's squinting anymore.


Within hours after birth, a baby's skin begins to dry out and may become flaky and scaly. This can last for a few weeks after birth. Dry skin can worry parents who have heard a baby's skin is always soft and beautiful. You don't need to treat it, but you may want to rub a little lotion on your baby's delicate skin.
Your baby may get a lot of different rashes. Don't be alarmed. Contact your healthcare provider if any rash lasts longer than a few days or if your baby seems to be extremely uncomfortable.
Diaper rash. This is the most common rash. It appears as bumps in the diaper area. Keep the area dry and clean, and apply a protective ointment that contains zinc oxide.
Prickly heat. A red, blistery rash may be prickly heat. Apply cornstarch to the affected area, and don't overdress the baby.
Milia. Tiny yellow bumps on the face, called milia, affect about half of all newborns. Large yellow pimples on splotchy skin is called newborn rash. This affects about 70% of all newborns. Swollen pink pimples are called newborn acne. Treatment for milia, newborn rash and newborn acne is time—you don't need to do anything. They disappear without treatment in a little while.
Sunlight. It's best to avoid exposing your baby to direct sunlight. A newborn's skin has little or no ability to protect itself from sun damage. Sunscreens are not recommended for babies under 6 months, so keep your little one in the shade for the best protection. Dress baby in a hat and protective clothing for even a brief outing in the sun, especially in very hot, sunny areas like the Southwest.

Pets and a New Baby

When a baby is born to a couple with a dog or cat that has been the center of attention for a long while, problems may arise. A dog in particular may act up. Sometimes the dog resents the attention the baby gets and growls at the infant, barks or demands attention. The animal may even revert to unacceptable behavior, such as wetting or tearing things up.
Helping the dog accept the baby. If your dog has never been around children, begin introducing her to the sights, sounds and smells of a new baby before your baby is born. When you bring the baby home, give your dog positive attention while introducing her to the new baby. Be firm when your dog misbehaves—don't let her get away with bad behavior. Be sure your dog is neutered; unneutered dogs are more apt to growl, snap and bite. Don't isolate your dog when you bring the baby home. Make her a part of the interactions with the baby. Don't leave the dog alone with the baby. Use common sense, and take things slowly.
Helping the cat accept the baby. Cats are affected in many of the same ways as dogs, and much of the advice on dogs applies to cats. Expect a cat to take longer to adjust to a new baby than a dog does. You may have to train your cat to stay out of the baby's crib.
Your New Baby Articles:
Baby at Birth | Your Baby's Health | Your Baby's Sleeping Habits | Taking Care of Baby | Car Restraints - For Your Baby's Safety
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