Newborn jaundice, also called infant jaundice, is when a newborn's blood contains excessive amounts of bilirubin. Usually this happens because a newborn's liver is not mature enough to process the bilirubin efficiently. Symptoms of newborn jaundice include yellowing of the skin and eyes on your baby. Some infants need to be placed under special lights or may need intravenous treatment. Babies with a mild case of jaundice can often be treated at home.
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The more often you feed your baby, the more he will move his bowels, which will speed along the process of eliminating excess bilirubin from his bloodstream. Jaundiced babies are sometimes sleepy, so you may need to wake your baby often to nurse him. If you are not breastfeeding, you should give him one to two ounces of baby formula at each feeding. Newborns with jaundice should eat every 2 to 3 hours around the clock, or more often if they are hungry.
If your baby does not need phototherapy under special lights, she may still benefit from sunlight. Hold your baby in a warm, sunny room while she is wearing only a diaper. Do not put the baby directly in the sun, because she could become sunburned. Be sure that the room is warm enough, and only leave her unclothed for a short time to avoid her becoming chilled.
Supplement With Formula
Some breastfed babies may not get enough breast milk in the early days, and may require supplementation. The best way to provide supplementation to your baby's milk is to use expressed breast milk and to use a syringe, spoon or supplemental nursing system to deliver the milk to your baby. This will prevent the nipple confusion that is common in breastfed babies who take a bottle in the early days. Talk to a lactation consultant for more information on alternate ways to feed your baby. If you do not have expressed milk, or if your doctor recommends it, use infant formula to supplement your baby's food until the jaundice clears up.