Common Newborn Questions

Rachel McGuffey, MD, Lexington Clinic Pediatrics

Having a newborn baby is exciting and challenging. It's easy for new parents to feel concerned about their baby. We get many phone calls about newborns daily, to help get new parents through we have included information below about some of the common questions we receive in the first couple months of life:

Cold symptoms

Your infant's first cold can be a frightening thing. The best treatment is to use saline drops and your nasal bulb syringe to clear the drainage to help with feeding and breathing. Other remedies include a vaporizer or humidifier and elevating the infant's head to help clear the drainage from the throat. If the infant is struggling to breathe or eat, has a fever greater than 100.5 rectally, or is wheezing, you should contact your physician's office. Remember, sneezing in infants is common and does not necessarily indicate a cold.


Babies may have a bowel movement with every feed or as infrequently as every 4-5 days. As long as the stool is not hard, they do not need treatment. If the infant is uncomfortable, you may try rectal stimulation with a rectal thermometer. You should contact your doctor if the baby does not have a bowel movement within 5 days or if the stool is hard.

Eye drainage

Infants commonly have eye drainage secondary to a blocked tear duct. If you note your infant to have drainage from the eye without redness, you may try warm compresses and massaging the tear duct located in the corner of the eye next to the nose. Your infant should be seen if the eye or skin around the eye has redness.


Newborn acne appears as pimples on the face and chest/back of the infant. This develops secondary to passage of maternal hormones to the infant. You should wash the area with warm water and avoid lotions to that area.

Cradle cap appears as thickened, scaly skin on the scalp. The best treatment is to use a fine tooth comb to loosen the scales prior to washing the infant's hair. You should not apply lotion or oil, as this will cause further scaling.

Erythema toxicum is a normal newborn rash that presents as red blotches that come and go on the body. These areas may have a white center. This rash needs no treatment and will fade away within a few weeks.

Diaper rashes are common in infants. The most common type is a flat, red rash caused by irritation by the diaper environment. A protectant such as A & D or Desitin should help this rash disappear. Frequent stools may also cause a red, flat rash. If your infant has frequent stools and a sunburn-looking rash, using an antacid such as Maalox or Mylanta, followed by a protectant should resolve this rash. The last common rash is a yeast diaper rash. This rash will be thickened and surrounded by small red areas. An antifungal agent such as Lotrimin may be tried or you may contact your doctor for a prescription. Any diaper rash that is worsening with treatment or does not show improvement within 5-7 days, should be seen by your physician.

Spitting up

All newborns will spit up at some time or another. This can be caused by swallowing air during feeding and a loose muscle entering the stomach. Some things to try at home for frequent spitting is to elevate the infant's head and to keep the infant upright for at least 20 to 30 minutes after feeding. If your infant continues to spit frequently, is very fussy with spitting or has projectile vomiting, you should contact your physician for further treatment.


Thrush is caused by a yeast infection in the mouth. It appears as white patches on the tongue and cheeks that cannot be wiped away. Your physician can prescribe a medication for treatment. You should boil your pacifiers and bottle nipples between feedings in order to not reinfect the infant.

**You should contact your doctor immediately for fever greater than 100.5° taken rectally.**