The Yucky Stuff

What’s normal and when to call the doctor for these 5 totally gross newborn things.

Article & Photo courtesy of Well Rounded NY

Having a new baby can feel magical. They are so small and cute and they smell good. Then it hits you. Literally. Your adorable perfect newborn sprays you full of poop while you are changing his diapers. Her eyes start to have green goop. You wonder how could this be happening to your perfect baby. Is this normal?

Here’s 5 yucky or gross things that happen in newborns that may throw you for a loop, but are perfectly normal.

1. Explosive Pooping. When a baby is first born, the stool will be dark and tarry appearing. This is called meconium. As your milk comes in or your baby starts to bottle-feed, the stool will change in both color and consistency: it may be yellow, orange, green or brown in color and cottage, tooth paste, mustard or honey in consistency. It will be very loose. If it were your stool, you would think you had diarrhea, but this is normal for babies. You may find that the stool squirts out at you during a diaper change. Sometimes, you may find your child has such a large stool that it goes up their back. This is what we call a diaper blowout and it’s normal as well.
Seek medical attention: If your newborn is stooling more than 15 times a day, has blood in the stool, has not urinated for over 6-8 hours or seems to be in pain or feeding poorly.

2. Newborn Congestion. Newborns are obligate nasal breathers. This means that they breathe much better through their noses than through their mouths. Newborns have small nasal passages so any little bit of congestion can make them sounds very noisy like a washing machine. The only way for your baby to clear their nasal passages is by sneezing, which explains why newborns sneeze a lot. Typically, the congestion bothers the parents more than the baby. If your baby is happy and feeding and sleeping well there is no reason to intervene. In fact, trying to suction your baby’s nose will only annoy them and over suctioning can actually lead to increased congestion by irritating the nasal passages. You may see a giant booger right there and really want to get it out. Remember if your child is not bothered by it then leave it alone. Soon enough your baby will sneeze and that bothersome booger will come right out. If your baby is bothered by the congestion you can use some nasal saline drops and suction to help make them more comfortable. Keeping a humidifier running will also help with nasal congestion.
Seek immediate medical attention: If your infant is less than two months old, has a temperature 100.4 or above, is feeding poorly, is irritable, is having persistently rapid breathing, has a change of color to the lips to pale or blue, or if you have any other concerns.

3. Umbilical Stump. After your baby is born, the umbilical cord is cut. Within 2-3 days the stump starts to dry out and can look a little gross. As the cord separates it will also look unattractive. The cord typically changes from a yellow/green color to brown or black as it dries out. It may even start to smell a little as it falls off. The key to stump care is to keep the area dry. This means not submerging your infant in water until after the umbilical stump falls off typically between 10-14 days of life. Until then, you can sponge bathe your baby. Your baby has sensitive skin and does not need to be bathed frequently. Signs of infection include: circumferential redness in the belly button area, very foul smelling discharge, pain or fever.
Seek medical attention: If you have other concerns, it is always best to check with your pediatrician.

4. Clogged Tear Ducts. It happens one morning soon after you come home from the hospital, you go to your sleeping baby and notice lots of green discharge from one or both their eyes. You immediately panic does my child have an eye infection? Luckily the likely answer is no. It is common for infants to get clogged tear ducts. In this case, the white of the eyes are white and there is no redness or swelling or the eyelids. There will be some yellow-green color discharge from your baby’s eyes and at times there may be a large amount of discharge. You will also notice that the affected eye may be watery and tearing. The good news is that clogged tear ducts typically self-resolve by nine months of age. If that has not happened, your pediatrician will refer you to an eye doctor at that time.
Seek medical attention: Signs of infection include redness in the white part of the eye, eyelid redness or swelling, or a hard bump at the corner of the eye. If your baby has these symptoms or you have any concerns you should contact your pediatrician. 

5. Cradle Cap. The medical term for cradle cap is seborrhea. These are the scaly, flaky patches you may see on your new baby’s scalp. The scalp may look yellow and greasy and can sometimes have some redness. No one knows the exact cause of cradle cap but some theories include: maternal hormones passed from the mother can cause a build up of oil in the oil glands and hair follicles or that it is caused by a non harmful yeast. While cradle cap bothers parents because it can look unsightly, it is not dangerous or harmful to babies. It typically does not bother your baby and is not contagious. The good news is that most cradle cap self resolves within a few months. So hang tight and observe.
Seek medical attention: If your baby’s scalp is very itchy or is bleeding it may not be cradle cap and you should talk to you doctor.

Remember, children can sometimes be messy. The good news is that they are adorable and have so many positives you are left thinking, “Really, what’s the big deal about an occasional poop squirt between family!”

This article is by Deena Blanchard, courtesy of Well Rounded NY. Conceived with love by former magazine editors Jessica Pallay and Kaity Velez, Well Rounded NY aims to be the singular pregnancy resource for city-savvy moms-to-be. Through reviews, profiles, expert Q&As, local guides and more, Well Rounded curates the New York City pregnancy and helps its readers come to terms – and term! – with pregnancy in the city.

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