2.3  Newborn danger signs

Although many babies will have a healthy birth and will breathe easily and begin feeding soon after being placed on the mother’s breast, other babies will have a range of needs, some urgent, in order to ensure their safety and wellbeing.

It is very important that you check the newborn for the danger signs listed in Box 2.2, as the actions you take to help the newborn are crucial to ensure prompt and safe care. You also need to teach the mother to look for these signs in the newborn and advise her to seek care promptly if she observes any one of the danger signs.

The axillary temperature is measured with a thermometer in the baby’s armpit.

Box 2.2  Newborn danger signs

Newborn danger signs; refer baby urgently if any of these is present:

  • Breathing less than or equal to 30 or more than or equal to 60 breaths per minute, grunting, severe chest indrawing, blue tongue and lips, or gasping.
  • Unable to suck or sucking poorly.
  • Feels cold to touch or axillary temperature less than 35°C.
  • Feels hot to touch or axillary temperature equal to or greater than 37.5°C.
  • Red swollen eyelids and pus discharge from the eyes.
  • Convulsion/fits/seizures.
  • Jaundice/yellow skin (at age less than 24 hours or more than two weeks) involving soles of the feet and palms of the hands.
  • Pallor.
  • Bleeding.
  • Repeated vomiting, swollen abdomen, no stool after 24 hours.

2.2  The eight steps of essential newborn care

2.4  Birth asphyxia