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Maternal Newborn Nursing

24.2 Care of Common Problems in the Newborn

Maternal Newborn Nursing24.2 Care of Common Problems in the Newborn

Learning Objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Describe the pathophysiology and signs and symptoms of hyperbilirubinemia and the care of the newborn with hyperbilirubinemia
  • Describe the pathophysiology and signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia and the care of the newborn with hypoglycemia
  • List the common newborn infections and describe the care of the newborn with an infection
  • List common newborn dermatologic issues including the pathophysiology of both expected and pathophysiologic findings along with their care and management

This section provides a comprehensive understanding of significant issues that commonly arise during the early stages of a newborn’s life: hyperbilirubinemia, hypoglycemia, dermatologic problems, viruses, and bacterial infections. By understanding the pathophysiology, signs and symptoms, risk factors, and preventive measures, as well as the appropriate care and management, for each condition, nurses can effectively address these challenges. They can also differentiate between normal variations and abnormal conditions and can educate parents about both. In providing adept and knowledgeable care of newborns with these problems and educating their caregivers, nurses can help ensure the health and well-being of this vulnerable population.


One common problem in newborns is hyperbilirubinemia, characterized by elevated levels of bilirubin in the blood. Understanding the underlying pathophysiology, including the breakdown of red blood cells, helps identify infants at risk. Recognizing the signs and symptoms associated with hyperbilirubinemia enables prompt intervention and appropriate care to manage this condition effectively.

Care of the Newborn with Hyperbilirubinemia

Many normal and healthy babies develop jaundice, or hyperbilirubinemia, which is an increase in the concentration of bilirubin in the serum, the amber-colored, protein-rich liquid that separates out when blood coagulates. With jaundice, the skin and sclera of the eyes of the newborn may appear noticeably yellow due to the breakdown of fetal red blood cells. Mild jaundice is harmless. However, if the bilirubin level continues to rise and is not treated, it can lead to kernicterus, a type of brain injury. Jaundice tends to be more common in breast-feeding infants, particularly in those that are not feeding well. Therefore, breast-feeding parents should nurse their newborns at least 8 to 12 times per day (or every 2 to 3 hours), which will help produce enough milk and keep bilirubin levels low.

Pathophysiology of Neonatal Jaundice

The primary source of bilirubin is the breakdown of hemoglobin, leading to the formation of unconjugated bilirubin and related substances. Unconjugated bilirubin then binds to albumin in the bloodstream to facilitate its journey to the liver. Once in the liver, hepatocytes take up bilirubin and, through the action of the enzyme uridine diphosphogluconurate glucuronosyltransferase (UGT), conjugate it with glucuronic acid, making it water-soluble.

Due to the common occurrence of temporary jaundice in healthy infants, hyperbilirubinemia can be classified as either physiologic or pathologic. It can also be classified based on whether the hyperbilirubinemia is unconjugated, conjugated, or a combination. Additionally, classification by the underlying mechanism is another method. Most cases of neonatal jaundice involve unconjugated hyperbilirubinemia. Among the most common factors contributing to neonatal jaundice are physiologic hyperbilirubinemia, breast-feeding–related jaundice, breast milk–induced jaundice, and pathologic hyperbilirubinemia associated with hemolytic diseases. Dysfunction or disease of the liver may result in conjugated or mixed hyperbilirubinemia (e.g., parenteral alimentation causing cholestasis, neonatal sepsis, neonatal hepatitis) (Dysart, 2022).

Jaundice first appears on the face, then the chest and abdomen, and finally the arms and legs in some instances. The whites of the infant’s eyes may also turn yellow. At the present time, most newborns are routinely screened for jaundice in the skin 24 hours before leaving the hospital, using a painless handheld light meter called a transcutaneous bilirubin (TCB) monitor. If jaundice is suspected in the newborn based on skin color, age, and other factors, the pediatrician may order a blood test to make an accurate diagnosis. If parents notice a sudden increase in jaundice once they are home, they should call their health-care provider. The specific blood tests that may be ordered are as follows: (Cedars Sinai, 2023)

  • Direct and indirect bilirubin levels—This test will show if bilirubin is bound with other substances by the infant’s liver. The level of indirect bilirubin is increased in normal physiologic jaundice. High levels of either type of bilirubin are seen with jaundice caused by more serious problems.
  • Red blood cell counts—This test is important because jaundice occurs as a result of the breakdown of fetal RBCs.
  • Blood type and testing for Rh incompatibility (the Coombs test or direct antiglobulin test [DAT])

One major differentiating factor between the four types of newborn jaundice is the timing of when the jaundice first starts. Treatment will depend on the degree of jaundice, the bilirubin level, and the age and weight of the infant (Cedars Sinai, 2023; Kemper et al., 2022).

  • Jaundice that develops after the first 24 hours of life in term infants is called developmental jaundice or physiologic jaundice. It is considered normal. The bilirubin peaks between the 2nd and 4th days of life and falls to normal levels by 57 days. Jaundice becomes visible when the bilirubin level is greater than 5 mg/dL (Cedars Sinai, 2023).
  • Jaundice that develops in the first 24 hours of life is called pathologic jaundice or nonphysiologic jaundice. When bilirubin rises higher than expected or remains elevated longer than expected, earlier treatment is needed to prevent severe hyperbilirubinemia. Abnormalities that cause excessive destruction of RBCs or problems in bilirubin conjugation result in nonphysiologic jaundice (Cedars Sinai, 2023; Kemper et al., 2022). These can include incompatibilities between the birthing parent’s and infant’s blood types, metabolic disorders, and infections. Phototherapy is often the treatment for nonphysiologic jaundice (Figure 24.11.)
  • Jaundice that develops in breast-fed infants within the first week after birth is called breast-feeding jaundice or early-onset jaundice. It involves bilirubin levels of >12 mg/dL and develops in 13 percent of breast-fed infants by 1 week of life (Kemper et al., 2022). The most common cause of jaundice this early in breast-fed infants is insufficient milk intake, dehydration, or low caloric intake. Serum bilirubin may reach dangerous levels if intake is not increased. An increase in enterohepatic circulation may also result from reduced bacteria in the intestine that act to convert bilirubin to nonresorbed metabolites (Dysart, 2022). Babies who are sleepy, have a poor suck, or nurse infrequently do not get sufficient colostrum. Colostrum has a normal laxative effect in eliminating bilirubin-rich meconium. When meconium is not eliminated, bilirubin may be deconjugated in the intestine, absorbed, and recirculated to the liver for conjugation again. Lack of suckling decreases production of breast milk and further increases the problem.
  • Jaundice that occurs after the first 5 to 7 days of life and lasts 3 weeks to as long as 3 months, peaking at about 2 weeks of age for some infants is considered true breast milk jaundice or late-onset breast milk jaundice. Bilirubin usually peaks at levels of 5 to 10 mg/dL and gradually decreases over several months, but for some infants, levels get as high as 20 to 30 mg/dL. Although the exact cause is unknown, true breast milk jaundice is thought to be caused by an increased concentration of beta-glucuronidase in the breast milk, which causes an increase in the deconjugation and reabsorption of bilirubin (Dysart, 2022). Infants show no signs of illness. Treatment consists of 8 to 12 feedings per 24 hours. If levels of bilirubin become too high, phototherapy may begin while the nursing parent continues to breast-feed. Interruption of breast-feeding is not usually recommended (Cedars Sinai, 2023; Kemper et al., 2022). This type of jaundice generally resolves without further morbidity concerns.

Clinical Judgment Measurement Model

Take Action: Setting a Newborn Patient under the Phototherapy Light

The nurse is caring for a 4-day-old who has been showing signs of hyperbilirubinemia with jaundice on the face down to the chest. The breast-fed infant had an elevated level when checked with the noninvasive bili tool (BiliTool) in the nursery.

The nurse knows that to start phototherapy the newborn will need to be uncovered but will require eye protection and groin coverage before being placed under the phototherapy light.

The nurse is successful in ordering goggles and groin coverage from hospital services, and phototherapy is initiated. A follow-up bilirubin level will be checked in 6 hours.

Nursing Care Plan for the Jaundiced Newborn

Subjective data may come from the parents who may report or the nurse who may observe that the newborn is having difficulty with breast-feeding or is not taking the bottle well. The problem may be infant fussiness related to feedings or lethargy and difficulty in waking to feed. The problem could be an issue with latch or positioning or with suck and swallow. To accurately assess what is happening, the nurse must become more involved with feedings in general. A loss of color in the stool also warrants investigation.

When assessing the infant in daylight, the nurse will most likely observe yellowing of the skin all over the body and in the sclera of the eyes. In newborns with dark skin, yellowing may not be visible, so jaundice should be confirmed with TCB (Ansong-Assoku, et al., 2023). Weight loss will be greater than expected (>10 percent). The infant will be difficult to awaken and, when awake, will be very fussy with a high-pitched cry.

The nurse assesses the infant’s skin for abnormalities, noting the color (yellowing) of skin or eyes. When determining yellowing of the skin, the nurse lightly presses on the skin of the baby’s forehead. If the skin looks yellow where pressed, the baby is likely jaundiced.

When assessing the infant for neurologic involvement, the nurse should keep in mind expected infant development. Infants experiencing hyperbilirubinemia are likely to be very fussy when awake and difficult to arouse when asleep. Consequently, many parents inadvertently delay waking their babies to feed them. More advanced stages of neurologic sequelae include hyperreflexia (twitching, overexcitability, sensitive reflexes, and convulsions). Symptoms can also include a high-pitched cry. An infant’s change in feeding patterns is neurologically significant as well.

Obtaining a good history, including a review of the pregnancy and delivery, may show a stressful delivery. When assistive devices such as vacuum or forceps have been used, they can increase infant trauma and, therefore, the risk of neonatal jaundice. The nurse is aware of high-risk disorders or diseases that may affect the infant (i.e., spleen or liver disease or hypothyroidism). As part of the physical assessment of the newborn, the nurse should obtain serum or transcutaneous bilirubin (TCB) values. TCB is preferred because of the noninvasive nature of the test. Any level greater than 12 mg/dL usually requires treatment, and the nurse should follow the provider’s orders and hospital policy and protocol. If a serum bilirubin level is required, it is usually obtained by heel stick, per facility protocol. If the newborn is breast-feeding, the nurse should observe and offer assistance to improve latch, suck, and swallow. The nurse will encourage frequent feedings, every 2 hours, and may suggest that the parent supplement with formula as appropriate/or needed.

Jaundice may be present if infants are having difficulty with breast-feeding, are dehydrated, or are taking in insufficient calories. Frequent feedings promote good hydration of the infant and help to boost the milk supply in the nursing parent. If breast milk is insufficient, even temporarily, infants may require additional calories and nutrients from formula.

The nurse initiates phototherapy per facility protocol and health-care provider order. The newborn is placed under the bili lights in an incubator or thermoregulated environment or in an open crib wrapped in a bili blanket. Phototherapy helps improve the solubility of bilirubin for faster secretion through the stool and urine. This is a noninvasive treatment. The infant wears only a diaper, covering the genital area, and eye patches covering their eyes to allow maximum skin exposure to the phototherapy lights while protecting the genitals and eyes. The nurse assesses the skin and eyes every 2 hours when the infant comes out from under the lights for feeding. The nurse also monitors the infant’s temperature for elevations or fever every 2 hours while phototherapy continues. Phototherapy can elevate an infant’s body temperature to dangerous levels. Therefore, close monitoring of temperature is necessary during treatment. Additionally, the nurse notes any signs of infection or sepsis.

Hyperbilirubinemia related to Rh incompatibility with the birthing person or severe anemia may require a blood transfusion. As for medication, the infant may require the administration of acetaminophen for fever or may be given phenobarbital, which acts to stimulate the liver to metabolize bilirubin more quickly (Dysart, 2022)

Because much of this treatment and phototherapy itself can be done at home, particularly if parents use a bili blanket, it is essential that the newborn’s caregivers receive thorough education about monitoring the infant’s skin, the need for skin surfaces to be exposed, monitoring temperature, and encouraging feedings every 2 hours. It is also very important that they keep scheduled appointments with their care provider because the infant’s blood will need to be monitored closely and frequently for bilirubin levels if it is not done by a visiting nurse. Infants who are receiving phototherapy, whether at home or in the hospital, can have brief periods outside the phototherapy lights. Ideally, this could be timed to occur every 2 hours when assessments and feedings occur. This is necessary so that the infants can be cuddled and held and so that they can bond with their parents and breast-feed if that is desired. Eye covers can be removed for parent-baby interaction and eye contact but must be replaced when the baby is returned to phototherapy. Also, the nurse must ensure that phototherapy is turned off during the collection of blood for serum bilirubin levels because both conjugated and unconjugated bilirubin are photo-oxidized when exposed to white or ultraviolet light (Wang et al., 2021).

Jaundiced newborn under bili light.
Figure 24.11 Jaundiced Newborn Receiving Treatment under a Bili Light. Treatment for hyperbilirubinemia may include the use of bili lights with both ultraviolet and blue light. The newborn should not wear more than a diaper and eye protection to ensure effective treatment. (credit: “Light Therapy for Nonphysiologic Jaundice” by Robyn Alvarez/Flickr, CC BY 4.0)


Hypoglycemia, another frequently encountered issue, refers to low blood glucose levels. Identifying infants at risk is an important step in newborn care. Early recognition of signs and symptoms is crucial because it allows nurses to implement appropriate care and management strategies. These include monitoring glucose levels and timely feeding or administering glucose water or intravenous glucose in severe cases.

Care of the Newborn with Hypoglycemia

In the term newborn, hypoglycemia refers to a blood glucose level below 40 mg/dL. It is a common transient occurrence in the immediate postpartum period; therefore, it is not necessary to routinely monitor the blood glucose of all term newborns. Most hospitals and birthing centers have policies and procedures that require monitoring of at-risk newborns rather than waiting for them to become symptomatic. The most common cause of hypoglycemia in infants is hyperinsulinism, typically occurring right after birth. Newborns at risk include the following:

  • small for gestational age (SGA)
  • large for gestational age (LGA)
  • fetal growth–restricted (FGR) infants
  • infants of a diabetic mother (IDM) (Stanford Medicine, 2023b)

See Chapter 23 Newborn Assessment for a full discussion of gestational age.

Other causes of hypoglycemia in the newborn are poor nutrition of the pregnant parent, incompatible blood types between birthing parent and baby (Rh incompatibility), neonatal pancreatic tumor, birth asphyxia or stressful birth, cold stress, liver disease, preterm birth, being born to a birthing parent treated with terbutaline, and infection (Stanford Medicine, 2023b).

Hospitals, birthing centers, and nurses can help prevent or significantly reduce hypoglycemia in infants by:

  • encouraging breast-feeding initiation within the first 30 to 60 minutes after birth
  • promoting skin-to-skin contact between birthing parent and baby to prevent cold stress, which depletes the infant’s glucose stores
  • encouraging breast-feeding 8 to 12 times a day
  • encouraging breast-feeding in response to infant feeding cues rather than a set schedule
  • teaching that crying is a late cue for hunger; instructing parents not to let the newborn cry for prolonged periods because crying rapidly depletes glycogen stores and can contribute to rapid drops in blood sugar levels
  • promoting continuous parent-baby rooming-in.

Pathophysiology of Neonatal Hypoglycemia

Neonatal hypoglycemia may present as transient or persistent. The developing fetus relies on maternal metabolism and placental circulation to obtain vital energy sources like glucose, ketones, free fatty acids, and amino acids to meet their energy demands. The placenta serves as a direct supplier of glucose to the fetal circulation. However, when the umbilical cord is clamped immediately after birth, it abruptly interrupts this continuous glucose supply, resulting in a rapid drop in the infant’s blood glucose levels during the first 2 to 3 hours of life (Abramowski et al., 2023).

Low blood glucose levels trigger the release of insulin and other hormones, including catecholamines, glucagon, and corticosteroids. These hormones stimulate the production of glucose through processes like glucogenesis and glycogenolysis while also enhancing the oxidation of fatty acids. This creates an internal source of glucose and other necessary energy substrates for the infant’s metabolic requirements. As a result, blood glucose levels gradually increase over the next several hours to days. Disrupting the established sequence of these physiologic changes can pose a heightened risk of more severe or extended periods of low glucose in the infant. The highest likelihood of hypoglycemia occurs within the initial hours after birth (Abramowski et al., 2023). Persistent hypoglycemia may arise due to overproduction of insulin, insufficient cortisol or growth hormone, or inherent metabolic disorders (Abramowski et al., 2023).

The signs of hypoglycemia are not always noticeable in the newborn, but those infants who are at risk should be tested per protocol regardless of the presence of symptoms. The diagnosis is made with a simple test on blood obtained by a heel stick. The most common symptoms of hypoglycemia in the newborn include shakiness or jitteriness, hypothermia (low body temperature), poor muscle tone (floppy muscles), lethargy (lack of movement and energy, out-of-the-ordinary sleepiness), seizures, and possibly cyanosis (blue tint to skin and lips) and apnea (stopping breathing) (Stanford Medicine, 2023b).

Treatment of neonatal hypoglycemia depends on the baby’s age and overall health and well-being. Depending on the facility’s protocol, treatment usually includes giving the baby a fast-acting source of glucose. This may be as simple as an oral glucose gel (“Standard-Dose Oral Dextrose Gel for Neonatal Hypoglycemia,” 2022), a glucose and water mixture, formula as an early feeding, or putting the baby to the breast if the infant nurses well. The baby’s glucose level is checked after the treatment to see if the hypoglycemia has improved. The baby may need glucose given through an IV as further treatment (Stanford Medicine, 2023b). Because the brain needs glucose to function, severe hypoglycemia, or not enough glucose for a prolonged period, can impair the function of the infant’s brain, causing seizures and brain injury. Thus, identifying and treating hypoglycemia as early as possible after birth. with the goal of stabilizing and maintaining a normal blood glucose level in the newborn, is optimal.

Umbilical Cord Conditions

After birth, the umbilical cord is cut, and the newborn is left with an umbilical cord stump that will fall off over time. The nurse educates the newborn's caregiver on caring for the stump at home and the signs or symptoms that would warrant a call to the primary care provider. Some common issues that arise from the stump include granulomas, hernia, and infection.

Umbilical Cord Granuloma

An umbilical cord granuloma is a small nodule of tissue, which can measure up to 1 cm, that may become evident after the separation of the umbilical cord (Poenaru, 2001). For some infants, after the cord has fallen off, a small granuloma will form. It will stay on the umbilicus and drain a light yellowish fluid. This condition will usually go away on its own in about a week, but if it does not, the pediatrician may choose to cauterize the area to burn off the granulomatous tissue (AAP, 2021a). Another treatment option for small granulomas may be an application of topical silver nitrate. These procedures are commonly treated in the pediatrician’s office. For larger granulomas or those unresponsive to silver nitrate, surgical resection may be indicated (Poenaru, 2001).

Umbilical Hernia

An umbilical hernia is present when the baby’s umbilical cord area appears to push outward when the baby cries. It is caused by a small hole in the muscular part of the abdominal wall that allows the tissue to bulge out when there is increased abdominal pressure (e.g., crying) (see Figure 23.9). It is not a serious condition and will usually heal itself in the first 12 to 18 months of life (AAP, 2021a). The healing process may take longer in infants of color for unknown reasons (AAP, 2021a). If the hole does not heal by the age of 3 to 5 years, it may require surgery.

Cultural Context

Care of the Newborn

Culture has a strong influence on behaviors and practices during pregnancy, childbirth, and infancy. The challenges arising from this exciting, yet demanding period of transition often prompt new parents to turn to traditional and cultural practices. Some examples of cultural practices in the early newborn period include the following:

  • In Zambia, the care of a baby’s umbilical stump involves three main methods: drying (using coal or powder on the cord), moisturizing (using engine oil on the cord), and protection (using breast milk, manure, or chicken feces on the cord).
  • Among Jordanian women and in several other cultures, it is a well-known practice to place a coin on the infant’s umbilical stump, which is believed to be beneficial in preventing umbilical hernias.
  • In India, cultural practices include the application of cow’s urine on the mother and refraining from breast-feeding the newborn for the initial 3 days of life.
  • In Bulgarian culture, safeguarding infants from malevolent magic is achieved through the wearing of amulets and protective “evil eye” beads (Kuşlu & Koçak, 2023).

Umbilical Cord Infection

After birth and until the umbilical cord naturally separates, bacteria can invade the umbilical stump and cause infection called omphalitis. While caring for the infant, the nurse’s main priority in preventing umbilical cord infection is to keep the cord clean and dry and to teach the parents to do so as well. No dressing is necessary. When changing diapers, the diaper is folded below the umbilical area to avoid urine-induced infection. As part of the discharge instructions, the nurse instructs the parents that once the umbilical cord has separated, they should maintain clean and dry precautions until the base of the umbilicus is dry without secretions. If the area still presents with a large amount of discharge after more than 1 week, they should consult the baby’s health-care provider.

The umbilical cord of the newborn is a direct line into the circulatory system. Therefore, if it becomes infected, the infection can quickly spread systemically and become very serious. When an infection enters the bloodstream, it is called sepsis, and it can damage the body’s organs and tissues. For up to 15 percent of newborns who get an umbilical cord infection, it is fatal, so it is considered a medical emergency (Healthline, 2019). A culture of the infected area will be taken to determine which antibiotic is best, which will largely depend on the extent of the infection.

If the cord infection is minor, the health-care provider may recommend application of an antibiotic cream to the area a few times daily to fight the infection (Healthline, 2019). If it is more serious, the baby will most likely need to be hospitalized to receive IV antibiotics for a course of 10 days (Healthline, 2019). This may be followed by oral antibiotics. How long the baby is hospitalized is up to the health-care provider, but usually it is for the duration of the IV antibiotic treatment. In some severe cases, the infection may need surgical intervention. Frequently, the infection causes cells to die at the base of the umbilicus, and these dead cells may need to be removed surgically (Healthline, 2019).

Common Dermatologic Conditions of the Newborn

Newborn dermatologic conditions can be a source of great concern for parents, but most of these issues are benign and temporary. While they can be initially frightening, these conditions often resolve with time. From common rashes like baby acne, milia, and cradle cap to mild skin discolorations, most newborn skin problems pose no long-term harm. Pediatricians can provide guidance and reassurance to parents, helping them navigate these early challenges and ensuring the baby's skin health. Understanding that these conditions are a normal part of infancy can ease parental anxiety and promote a sense of confidence in caring for their newborn's delicate skin.


Tiny white bumps or cysts on the newborn’s skin, usually on the face around the cheek, nose, or chin area are called milia (Mount Sinai, 2021) (see Table 23.2). Occasionally, there may be a narrow red halo around the base of the milia. Milia form when dead skin cells get trapped in small pockets near the surface of the skin. The protein in those cells, called keratin, hardens into tiny cysts that present as small raised white bumps on the skin (Mount Sinai, 2021). No treatment is needed for milia because they will disappear on their own in the first few weeks of life.

Baby Acne

The common short-term skin condition that causes acne breakouts (papules and pustules) on a baby’s face, chest, or scalp is called baby acne (Cleveland Clinic, 2022e) (Figure 24.12). It occurs on average at about 2 weeks of age, although some babies are born with it. It resolves within weeks. Infantile acne occurs after 2 months of age and is different from baby acne, lasting up to a year. If an infant develops acne after 2 months of age, parents should see their pediatrician for intervention. Baby acne can develop slowly or suddenly. The cause is varied and may be related to clogged pores, oily skin, maternal or placental hormones, or other causes. The acne starts as red dots and turns into raised pustules, but not blackheads, disappearing in a few days to a couple of weeks. Generally, this acne resolves without treatment other than washing the area gently with mild soap and water, keeping the area clean and dry, and not using lotions or oils on the baby’s skin. An antifungal cream or low-potency topical steroid may be prescribed in serious cases (Cleveland Clinic, 2022e).

Photo of newborn with baby acne.
Figure 24.12 Baby Acne Baby acne consists of pustules, not blackheads, and usually resolves on its own. (credit: “Babyakne” by “selbst erstellt (Fragegeist)”/Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)

Erythema Toxicum

The skin condition in newborns that causes a red rash and small, fluid-filled bumps on the infant’s face and/or limbs is called erythema toxicum neonatorum (ETN) (Cleveland Clinic, 2022d) (see Table 23.2). ETN is not dangerous, it does not itch, and it is not uncomfortable for the baby. It does not have any long-term effects and may go away within 5 to 14 days after forming. The condition may come back and once again resolve in a week or two. Although often confused with baby acne, ETN is different. It can be differentiated by the fact that the bumps disappear and form in new areas over a few hours. Between the bumps, the skin has what appears to be a red rash or red patches. Symptoms usually show up only on parts of the body that have hair follicles, such as the arms, legs, chest, or face (Cleveland Clinic, 2022d). The bumps and rash will get paler when pressure is applied to them. No specific treatment is needed for ETN, and parents should be instructed not to squeeze or pick at pustules because that may cause infection or scarring.

Pustular melanosis

The normal and harmless skin condition that affects term newborns and presents with skin bumps, pustules, or blisters anywhere on the infant’s body is called transient neonatal pustular melanosis (TNPM) (Cleveland Clinic, 2022a). The pus-filled bumps are noticeable at birth and will rupture, causing white-encircled dark spots on the skin. The darkened skin will fade in 3 to 4 weeks (Cleveland Clinic, 2022a). Because blisters rupture easily, care must be taken to avoid infection. TNPM affects boys and girls equally and affects infants of color more than white infants. TNPM is benign, and it does not itch or cause scarring. The condition resolves without treatment.

Management of Common Newborn Skin Ailments

Most common skin ailments in the newborn are benign and require little management. It is important to understand the expected and pathophysiologic findings in the skin. Nurses can differentiate between normal variations and abnormal conditions and can educate parents about both. Appropriate care and management approaches are discussed to address issues effectively.

Diaper Rash

A common form of dermatitis, skin inflammation, in the diaper area of the buttocks, thighs, and genitals is called diaper rash (Mayo Clinic, 2022b). Diaper rashes are often uncomfortable and tender, causing fussiness and crying during diaper changes and in between. They can be caused by:

  • Delay in changing wet or soiled diapers. Babies have sensitive skin. Diarrhea may also cause a rash.
  • Chafing or rubbing. Rash may also occur if diapers are too tight or too small.
  • Using a new product such as baby wipes, diapers, detergent, bleach, or fabric softener. Ingredients in lotions or oils might add to the problem.
  • Developing a bacterial or yeast (fungal) infection. Skin creases around the diaper area are perfect breeding grounds for bacterial or yeast infections because they are moist and warm. If a yeast infection has developed, parents might notice red dots in the area, and the skin may be bright red and painful.
  • Introducing new foods. As infants are introduced to new foods, their stool changes. This increases the likelihood of developing a diaper rash.
  • Having sensitive skin.Infants with skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis (eczema) are more likely to develop diaper rashes (Mayo Clinic, 2022b). The skin affected by eczema is usually in areas not covered by diapers.
  • Using antibiotics. Antibiotics can contribute to rashes by killing off bacteria that keep yeast growth in check, thereby allowing yeast to grow. Antibiotic use also increases the risk of diarrhea.

The best way to prevent a diaper rash is to keep the area clean and dry and to change diapers often. The nurse should teach the parents to use warm water and a mild soap to cleanse the area, or a baby wipe that does not contain alcohol, which would sting when a rash is present. Most commercial wipes do not contain alcohol. Parents or caregivers should gently pat the area dry or let it air dry. Cream, paste, or ointment should be applied regularly to the diaper area as a barrier to protect the skin. Petroleum jelly and zinc oxide are ingredients present in many proven diaper rash products. Diapers should fit securely but not too tightly, and when possible, the baby should have time without wearing a diaper. After each diaper change, it is important to maintain good handwashing to avoid the transfer of bacteria and yeast to other parts of the baby’s body, to the caregiver, or to other people.

Cradle Cap

The common, harmless skin condition on an infant’s scalp that presents as yellow scaly patches with a red rash is called cradle cap or seborrheic dermatitis (Cleveland Clinic, 2020). It is not uncomfortable for the baby, and it is not contagious. The exact cause of cradle cap is unknown, but overproduction by sebaceous glands in the baby’s scalp or a type of yeast in the oil produced by these glands may contribute to this condition (Cleveland Clinic, 2020). Infants who have family members with eczema or asthma are more likely to have cradle cap. It occurs equally in males and females and does not affect one ethnicity more often than another. Cradle cap looks like a reddened area with crusty brown or yellow scales on the scalp that resemble fish scales. The scales feel flaky, or waxy and greasy, to the touch. Cradle cap is seen in the first weeks or months of life and usually disappears completely by 12 months of age. Home treatment is all that is needed to manage most cases of cradle cap. Parents should massage petroleum jelly or mineral oil into the scalp, use a soft brush to gently remove the scales, and wash the baby’s hair daily with a mild baby shampoo. If this does not resolve the cradle cap, other over-the-counter baby products are available for this purpose. Once the cradle cap is resolved, the infant’s hair should be washed 2 to 3 times weekly with a mild baby shampoo to prevent it from returning.


The common skin condition that causes patches of skin to become dry, itchy, and scaly is called eczema. It most commonly affects babies on their face, scalp, feet, hands, and legs. Eczema is a chronic condition that is not contagious. In the United States, baby eczema affects 15 percent to 20 percent of infants up to the age of 2 years (Cleveland Clinic, 2022b). This condition can come and go unexpectedly throughout life regardless of age. It is believed that a combination of genetics and environmental factors causes baby eczema, and these factors include:

  • skin irritants and allergens, including fabrics, soaps, and certain foods
  • immune system reaction
  • genetics

Treating eczema can often be a frustrating experience for parents. The first step is to eliminate skin irritants and allergens. To do that, parents need to know what they are. Unfortunately, that is often a process of elimination and trial and error. If parents can identify these triggers, avoiding them will help the baby’s skin to heal and will prevent or lessen future flare-ups. Next, parents may use topical corticosteroids, which are rubbed on the baby’s skin like lotion. These are steroids prescribed by the infant’s provider, generally for no more than twice a day for 2 weeks. Longer or more frequent use may lead to discoloration or thinning of the infant’s skin. Finally, parents can apply moisturizers to the baby’s skin. By keeping the skin well hydrated, symptoms will be reduced, skin will be soothed, discomfort will be alleviated, and flare-ups will be prevented. Moisturizers without fragrance should be used and can be applied after bathing and several times a day as needed for dry skin.

Common Newborn Illnesses

Differentiating between common newborn viral illnesses and bacterial infections is not always easy and often requires a trip to the pediatrician. However, viral illnesses are more common than bacterial infections in the newborn period. Both may cause similar symptoms, such as fever, irritability, and listlessness, while the treatments for each are different. Testing may be required to determine the causative factor.

Management of Common Newborn Viral Illnesses

Some common viral agents in the newborn include herpes simplex viruses, HIV, cytomegalovirus (CMV), and hepatitis B. Intrapartum infection with HIV or hepatitis B can occur as the newborn passes through an infected birth canal or by ascending infection if delivery is delayed after rupture of membranes (Tesini, 2022). It is possible for these viruses to also be transmitted transplacentally, which commonly occurs. Specifically, CMV (cytomegalovirus) is commonly transmitted in this manner.

Upper Respiratory Infections

Many common newborn viruses, such as upper respiratory infections (URIs), or “common colds,” present with a runny nose, cough, low-grade fever with decreased feeding, and difficulty in sleeping. No antibiotics or antiviral medications will help the infant recover more quickly from a cold. Treatment is to keep the infant as comfortable as possible. Clear their nasal passages so that breathing and eating are easier. Advise caregivers to not overdress the infant with a fever and to medicate as directed by the infant’s care provider with acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin). Aspirin should not be given to newborns. Aspirin has been linked to Reye syndrome, a serious and potentially fatal condition for infants and children that causes swelling of the liver and brain after a viral infection. Acetaminophen is a safer alternative for fever or pain in babies up to 6 months of age, while both acetaminophen and ibuprofen are recommended for use in infants 6 months and older.

Caregivers should monitor the baby’s temperature, and if it gets worse, notify the pediatrician. Parents should be alert for signs of dehydration, particularly if the baby is not eating well because of a runny or stuffy nose. Infants can dehydrate very quickly due to decreased feedings and the immature nature of the neonatal kidneys, which are not as efficient in concentrating urine. For infants and children, the “common cold” can last from 10 to 14 days, and they occur an average of 6 to 8 times per year (Duke Health, 2019) and up to twice as often for infants in daycare.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

The contagious virus causing an illness more serious than a cold or upper respiratory infection is called respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Its symptoms start similarly, with fever (over 100.4° F or 38° C or higher), cough (dry or wet sounding), congestion, runny nose, sneezing, fussiness, and poor feeding. Symptoms may progress to bronchiolitis, a lower respiratory infection, which includes cold symptoms as well as rapid breathing; nasal flaring (when the nostrils flare out with each breath) and head bobbing with breathing; rhythmic grunting (occurs during breathing out, which is the infant’s way of trying to keep air in the lungs so the lungs will stay open); abdominal breathing; intercostal retraction (a sucking-in between the ribs when the infant breathes in) or an upside-down V shape under the infant’s neck when breathing in; and wheezing. These are all signs that the infant is working too hard to breathe. If their skin turns blue or purple, they are not getting enough oxygen. On darker skinned infants, look for changes in color to lips, tongue, gums, and around the eyes. Parents should be educated to notify their health-care provider if infants develop symptoms of bronchiolitis; dehydration (less than 1 diaper every 8 hours); long pauses (greater than 10 seconds between breaths) or difficulty in breathing; gray or blue color to tongue, lips, or skin; or significant decrease in activity and/or alertness (AAP, 2023b). For infants and certain toddlers, the RSV immunization nirsevimab (Beyfortus) can be administered via injection and may be integrated into their routine immunization schedule. Nirsevimab has been proven to reduce the risk of RSV-related hospitalizations and health-care visits in infants by approximately 80 percent (AAP, 2023b). This injection functions uniquely compared to traditional vaccines. It supplies antibodies that initiate immediate protection for infants, offering safeguarding throughout the standard RSV season. A single nirsevimab dose is suggested for infants under 8 months of age, to be given during or just before the RSV season. Additionally, a single dose is recommended for certain children between 8 and 19 months of age who are entering their second RSV season and face an increased risk of severe illness (AAP, 2023b).


Another viral illness, influenza—also commonly referred to as the flu—can cause many of the same symptoms as the common cold but is accompanied by severe body aches and higher fever. If diagnosed within the first 48 hours of illness, influenza can be shortened by antiviral medication (Duke Health, 2019). A dose of flu vaccine (or two doses given a month apart in the young child receiving the flu vaccine for the first time) given at the start of each flu season can help to prevent influenza infections. The American Academy of Pediatrics (2023a) recommends annual influenza vaccination for all children without medical contraindication starting at 6 months of age (injection or intranasal). Although all children, particularly those under the age of 5 years, are considered at a higher risk for complications from the flu virus, the highest risk is for those younger than 2 years.


Infants and children of all ages can get COVID-19, an infectious illness caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 that became a pandemic disease in 2020. In fact, babies can test positive from birth if the birth parent is positive, which is why it is important for pregnant persons to keep up to date with their immunizations and monitor their health. Newborns can get COVID-19 from the people who care for them. The nurse provides education on good handwashing techniques when caring for their infant. The infant’s crib can remain in the room with the parent while in the hospital, but keeping a reasonable distance from the newborn when not providing direct care or feeding is important. These precautions help to keep the risks of the infant getting COVID-19 low. If the birth parent is very sick and symptomatic, it would then be best to temporarily separate parent and baby by moving the baby out of the parent’s room (Mayo Clinic, 2023b).

Infants who have tested positive for COVID-19 but remain asymptomatic may be allowed to return home from the hospital, depending on the circumstances. To ensure protection, it is recommended that the caregivers of the baby wear face masks and maintain rigorous hand hygiene. Continuous monitoring and follow-up with the infant’s health-care provider, conducted through phone consultations, virtual check-ins, or in-person visits, are necessary for the next 14 days. Infants who test negative for COVID-19 may also be discharged from the hospital (Mayo Clinic, 2023b).

In the United States, vaccinations for COVID-19 are not available for infants under the age of 6 months. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine can be given at age 6 months if requested by the parents. It is given to children between 6 months and 4 years and consists of three doses to bring the child “up to date” with the vaccine. After the first dose, the second dose is given 3 to 5 weeks later, and the third dose is given at least 8 weeks after the second (Mayo Clinic, 2023b). The alternative is the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, which can be given between ages 6 months and 5 years. This vaccine consists of two doses, with the second dose given 8 weeks after the first (Mayo Clinic, 2023b).

Management of Common Newborn Bacterial Infections

Bacterial infections are any illness or condition caused by bacterial growth or toxins. Harmful bacteria can attack the skin, gastrointestinal (GI) system, lungs, heart, brain, blood, or anywhere in the body. Most bacteria are not harmful, and many are helpful. Many of the vaccines that infants and children receive are meant to prevent serious bacterial infections.

Commonly seen bacterial agents affecting newborns include group B streptococci, enteric gram-negative organisms (primarily Escherichia coli or E. coli), Listeria monocytogenes, gonococci, and chlamydia (Tesini, 2022).

With bacterial infections:

  • Symptoms tend to persist longer than the 10 to 14 days that a virus usually lasts.
  • Fever is usually higher than expected from a virus.
  • Rather than improving, the fever and symptoms get worse a few days into the illness.

Antibiotics can treat most bacterial infections, but only a few viral infections have medications that can treat them. The primary treatment for neonatal bacterial infections is prompt empiric antimicrobial therapy with drugs such as ampicillin and gentamicin or ampicillin and cefotaxime (Tesini, 2022). Once culture results are returned, the drug, dose, and frequency will be adjusted to best fight the identified organism.

Bacteria in the blood, or sepsis, and a bacterial infection in the lining of the brain and spinal cord, or bacterial meningitis, are two serious and concerning kinds of bacterial infections. Infants have few subjective symptoms. Diagnostic tests are required to ascertain that bacterial infections are part of their current or presenting illness.

Helping Parents Recognize and Respond to Signs of Illness in a Newborn

Having a newborn is both exciting and stressful for new parents for many reasons. One of these is concern for the baby’s health. How does a new parent know if their baby is getting sick? They may not know what their baby’s normal behavior is, and that makes it difficult to determine if their newborn’s behavior is not normal. Changes in newborn behavior can be subtle, so they are not always easy for new parents to spot. The best advice the nurse can give a new parent is to have them note any behavior that seems abnormal to them. Use the following list to teach new parents about signs of illness in newborns. New parents should watch for:

  • any suspicion of illness, such as crying more than usual, irritability, coughing, diarrhea, or vomiting (if vomit is green, which means bile, notify the health-care provider immediately)
  • changes in feeding patterns, such as having to wake the baby for feedings or if the baby no longer finishes their feedings, which could indicate illness
  • a fever of greater than 100.4° F (38° C), which warrants a call to the health-care provider
  • low body temperature, less than 96.8° F (36° C), which warrants a call to the health-care provider
  • changes in the baby’s cry—if the cry becomes weak, sounds strange, or becomes frantic or inconsolable
  • weak suckling or not being able to suck for very long
  • sweating while eating
  • sleeping more than usual
  • decreased muscle tone, floppy limbs, floppy neck when the infant previously could hold head up
  • moaning or grunting noises when breathing, with or without flaring of nostrils
  • decreased urination (fewer wet diapers) and dry mouth (dehydration)
  • any color change, such as pale, bluish, or gray arms and legs

Any of these signs and symptoms of infant illness can occur independently or in combination. Babies do not often get sick, but when they do, they can deteriorate quickly (Kliegman et al., 2020).

When Contacting Health-Care Providers: Be Prepared

When contacting health-care providers or taking a baby to the emergency department (ED) for any problem or emergency, parents should be prepared to assist medical personnel in understanding what is happening with their baby and why they are concerned. Table 24.6 provides a summary of the helpful information parents will be asked to give health-care providers who are caring for their child. Being prepared will save both parents and their health-care provider time during a phone call, office visit, or trip to the ED, when time is of the essence. Parents need to be as objective as possible in relaying the facts of the situation. When parents can accurately and calmly describe in detail what they observed and what took place as well as any pertinent history, this allows the health-care provider to make quick and necessary assessments and decisions to provide the best care for their baby. Photos or videos of concerning symptoms can also be valuable.

Category Information
The baby’s symptoms What prompted parents to contact their health-care provider or seek medical advice?
The baby’s medical history Be prepared to discuss the history of the current symptoms or illness. When did it start? How has it progressed? Is the baby up to date on their immunizations?
Changes in the baby’s feeding or bowel movements Is the baby feeding on a normal schedule, retaining feedings, spitting up, vomiting? Do parents need to wake the baby for feedings, is the baby refusing to eat, not interested in feeding, not taking the full feeding? Does the baby show signs of watery stools, diarrhea, change in stool volume, consistency, amount, effort? Are there any known allergies or sensitivities to food, formula? Are there any known chronic conditions?
Changes in the baby’s body temperature What is the baby’s temperature, and what time was it last taken? Make sure to mention how it was taken (e.g., rectally, axillary, temporally, forehead).
Any home remedies or medicines Has the infant been given any home remedies, over-the-counter, or prescription medicines? If so, what strength, what dose, and when?
Possible exposures Is anyone in the household or daycare ill? Has the infant been exposed to anyone who has been ill? Has the baby or any family member recently received any immunizations (e.g., COVID-19 or flu)?
Table 24.6 Information Parents Should Know When They Suspect Their Baby Is Ill

Parents should be prepared to record any specific care instructions from their care provider, either on their phone or with paper and pen. They should also carry with them the phone number and location of their family pharmacy in case a prescription is ordered.

Parental education regarding common conditions that may occur in newborns is important to fostering parental bonding and feelings of confidence and competence as parents. The American Academy of Pediatrics (2021a) has identified a number of conditions common during the first couple of weeks of life as being of particular importance to new parents of newborns.

Abdominal Distention

Most babies have round bellies that stick out right after a feeding, but the abdomen (stomach) should feel soft between feedings. If it feels swollen or hard, there could be a problem with gas or constipation. If the baby has not had a bowel movement in more than a day or two, if the stool is like currant jelly or has blood in it, or if they are vomiting, a swollen stomach could be an indication of an intestinal problem. Parents should notify the baby’s health-care provider immediately.

Birth Injuries

Babies can be injured during birth, particularly if they are very large. While they usually recover quickly from these injuries, some symptoms may persist. Occasionally, a broken collar bone may occur. During the initial assessment, the nurse will detect a concavity (the curving in of a surface) and/or crepitus (a crackling or crunching sound made by the damaged bone) when palpating the newborn’s clavicle. After a few weeks, a small lump may form at the fracture site, a sign that new bone is forming to mend the injury.

Muscle weakness, or brachial plexus injury, is another common injury. This occurs during labor when pressure, compression, or stretching damages the nerves that send signals from the spinal cord to the shoulder, arm, and hand. Muscles are usually weakened on one side of the face or one shoulder or arm and generally return to normal after several weeks. Nurses and health-care providers can show parents how to nurse and hold the baby to promote healing of the muscles and nerves. Chapter 25 Care of the Newborn at Risk provides more information on birth injuries and their management.

“Blue Baby”

Newborns may have acrocyanosis, mildly blue or purple hands and feet, when they are cold, which is normal (Kutlubay et al., 2017). This condition is not related to the infant’s temperature and is very common in newborns in their first few hours of life as they adjust to extrauterine circulation and life. Acrocyanosis is caused by the constriction of the small blood vessels that deliver oxygen-rich blood to the extremities. An infant’s face, tongue, or lips may occasionally turn a little blue when the newborn is crying hard, but once they are calm, their color should quickly return to their typical shade. However, persistent blue coloring, or grey coloring in darker skinned infants, blue coloring circling the mouth, or blue coloring plus breathing or feeding difficulties is an emergency. It could mean that the heart or lungs are not working correctly, and the baby should be taken to the emergency department or 911 should be called immediately!.

Unusual Bowel Movements

Unusual bowel movements or stooling patterns can include failure to pass meconium during the first 48 hours after birth. If the newborn has not passed the meconium in that time, evaluation of the lower bowel is indicated to detect potential problems.

Blood in newborn stool is not expected. Newborns may have a small amount of blood in their stool in the first few days of life. If this occurs, it usually means the infant has a fissure, or tiny crack, opening, or split, in the skin or tissues of the body, such as the anus from stooling (AAP, 2021a). Although this is generally harmless, it is suggested that parents notify their health-care provider about any signs of blood to confirm the reason because other causes require further investigation and treatment.


Newborns may cough, gag, or sputter as they learn to feed. If breast-feeding, this may happen if the nursing parent’s milk lets down very fast or when switching from the breast to a bottle. When solely bottle-feeding, the size and shape of the nipple could be the issue. If the baby coughs or gags regularly when trying to feed and adjustments have not helped, parents should consult their care provider because these symptoms could indicate an underlying problem in the lungs or digestive tract.

Excessive Crying

All newborns cry and sometimes for no reason at all. If a newborn is crying, the parent or caregiver should “go to the basics” by making sure the baby is fed, burped, and have a clean diaper. After that, swaddle them and hold them, rock them, talk softly, sing, sway, or do whatever works to calm them down. The nurse should teach parents that they cannot “spoil” a newborn by picking them up and holding them, so they should not hesitate to do that when their baby is crying. Soon enough, parents will know their baby’s crying patterns and be better able to tell why they are crying. If the baby’s crying sounds different, such as shrieking, or it goes on for an unusually long time, parents should call their health-care provider.

Forceps Marks

If forceps were used to assist in the delivery, they can often leave bruised, red marks or even superficial scrapes or scratches on the newborn’s face and head. These marks may not appear immediately after birth and may first appear as redness or puffiness of the face (Figure 24.13). It may take a few hours for bruising and forceps marks to become visible. These marks will generally disappear within a few days of birth. Sometimes, a firm, flat lump develops in one of these areas due to damage of the tissue under the skin and bleeding in that area. Parents could, and should, bring this to the attention of their newborn’s care provider, who will likely tell them that this will go away within 2 months (AAP, 2021a).

Newborn with marks from forceps delivery.
Figure 24.13 Marks from Forceps Delivery If forceps were used to assist in the delivery, they can often leave bruised, red marks, or even superficial scrapes or scratches on the newborn’s face and head. (credit: “Forceps Marks” by Joanne Lee/Flickr, CC BY 4.0)

Lethargy and Sleepiness

Newborns sleep an average of 16 to 17 hours in a 24-hour period. Some may sleep even more. They will most likely set their own sleep-wake patterns, waking every 2 to 4 hours for feedings throughout the day and night. Parents need to expect their newborns to spend most of their time asleep. If they wake every few hours, eat well, seem content, and are alert at least part of the day, it is perfectly normal for babies to sleep the rest of the time. If the baby is rarely alert, does not wake on their own for feedings, or seems too tired or uninterested to eat, those are indicators that parents should contact their health-care provider. This lethargy—particularly if it is sudden or a change in their usual behavior pattern—may be a symptom of a serious illness.

Respiratory Distress

Within a few hours after birth, the typical newborn has settled into a relaxed, comfortable, and stable breathing pattern. After this, if the newborn has trouble breathing, it is most likely because their nasal passages are blocked. Newborns are nasal obligate breathers (Hamming & Walner, 2012), meaning they breathe through their noses. The only time newborns breathe through their mouths is when they are crying. Therefore, clear nares are necessary for effortless breathing. When at home, troubled breathing is normally easy to remedy by using saline. It may become necessary to suction the infant’s mouth and nose to provide an open airway and to remove secretions or regurgitated feeding from these areas. The mouth must always be suctioned before the nose. When the nose is suctioned, the infant will often gasp, choke, or aspirate any contents in the mouth. Suctioning the mouth first reduces the risk of aspiration.

Clinical Safety and Procedures (QSEN)

QSEN Competency: Safety: Nasal and Oral Suctioning

Definition: Minimize the risk of harm to patients and providers through both system effectiveness and individual performance.

Knowledge: Examine human factors and other basic safety design principles as well as commonly used unsafe practices.

Skill: Demonstrate effective use of technology and standardized practices that support safety and quality.

Procedure for suctioning of the infant’s mouth and nose using a bulb syringe:

Thoroughly wash and dry hands prior to suctioning the infant’s mouth and nose.

  1. The infant’s head is positioned to the side, as the infant is prone. This position will allow fluid to pool in the lower cheek.
  2. The bulb syringe is compressed prior to inserting it into the lower cheek. (Do not compress while it is in the mouth because any secretions that are in the bulb will be expelled back into the mouth and may cause choking or respiratory distress).
  3. Gently position the tip of the bulb syringe into the side of the infant’s mouth between the cheek and the gums. Do not insert it into the back of the throat, which could stimulate the gag reflex, causing regurgitation, or produce a vagal response that could result in bradycardia or apnea.
  4. Release the bulb while it is in the infant’s mouth, between the lower gums and cheek. This will cause the bulb to suction or draw secretions into the bulb. Remove the bulb syringe and empty it by compressing it several times, outside the mouth, before using it again. Emptying it prepares it for use again.
  5. Repeat the procedure to suction the mouth again. Suction the nose following the mouth, only if necessary. Infants may gasp when the nose is suctioned and might aspirate secretions in the mouth if it is not cleared first. Therefore, always suction the mouth before the nose.
  6. If suctioning the nose is necessary, do it gently. Suctioning of the nose can cause edema and trauma, which will obstruct the delicate nasal passages and cause unnecessary respiratory difficulties. It is best to suction the baby’s nose before a feeding or bedtime. Do not suction after a feeding because it may cause the baby to vomit.
  7. When suction is completed, clean the bulb syringe with hot soapy water, squeezing water from the bulb. Air dry. This will prepare it for future use.

Procedure for suctioning of the infant’s nose using a NoseFrida (, 2003):

Thoroughly wash and dry hands prior to suctioning the infant’s nose.

  1. The disposable hygiene filter needs to be in place to prevent mucus or bacteria transfer. Be sure that the assembly is complete and secure.
  2. Place the large tube against the child’s nostril, not inside the nostril, creating a seal.
  3. Use the red mouthpiece to suck out the mucus from the nostril. Wipe the exterior if needed and repeat by creating a seal against the child’s other nostril.
  4. After the mucus-sucking session is completed, dispose of the filter.
  5. Wash the large tube with warm soap and water. Clean the tube with a few drops of rubbing alcohol.
  6. Firmly snap dry pieces together, inserting a new filter in place, preparing for the next use.

By following this procedure, the item is cleaned, assembled, and ready for use.

Attitude: Value the contributions of standardization/reliability to safety.


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