Jaundice, Newborn

Jaundice is when the skin and whites of the eyes turn yellowish in color. It is caused by having too much bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is made when red blood cells break down. A small amount of jaundice in normal in newborns. This is because a newborn's liver is still developing (immature). The liver may take 1 to 2 weeks to develop completely. Jaundice often lasts about 2 to 3 weeks in babies that are breastfed. It clears up in less than 2 weeks in babies that are formula fed.


  • Watch your newborn to see if he or she is getting more yellow. Undress your newborn and look at his or her skin under natural sunlight. Go near a window and look at your newborn's skin. The yellow color cannot be seen under regular house lamps or lights.

  • Place your newborn under the special lights or blanket as told by the doctor. Cover your newborn's eyes while under the lights.

  • Feed your newborn often. Use added fluids only as told by your newborn's doctor.

  • Follow up with the doctor as told. This is important.


  • Your newborn's jaundice lasts over 3 weeks.

  • Your newborn is not nursing or bottle-feeding well.

  • Your newborn becomes fussy.

  • Your newborn is sleepier than usual.

  • Your newborn turns blue or stops breathing.

  • Your newborn starts to look or act sick.

  • Your newborn is very sleepy or is hard to wake up.

  • Your newborn stops wetting diapers normally.

  • Your newborn's body becomes more yellow, or the jaundice is spreading.

  • Your newborn is not gaining weight. 

  • Your newborn has other problems that concern you.

  • Your newborn has an unusual or high-pitched cry.

  • Your newborn has movements that are not normal.

  • Your newborn has a fever.


  • You understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your newborn's condition.

  • Will get help right away if your newborn is not doing well or gets worse.