10 things you should worry about as a brand new parent

You worry about every hiccup and sneeze as a new parent, but what should you REALLY worry about (as opposed to those things you don’t really have to worry about)? Below is a list of 10 potentially serious things you don’t want to miss in your newborn.

  1. Fever. A rectal temperature over 100.4 in an infant is considered a fever. If your baby is under 2 months old and has a fever, he or she needs to be seen by the pediatrician right away. Babies this young may not show any other outward signs of an infection, but can have an infection of the blood, urine or even brain.
  2. Redness of the skin around the umbilical cord. Your baby may be developing omphalitis, an infection of the umbilical cord. The redness may spread rapidly, and there may be pus coming from the umbilical stump. Your baby needs to be evaluated right away if this is the case.
  3. Bulging soft spot. Many parents are afraid of their baby’s fontanel, the opening at the top of the head, for fear they might injure their baby’s brain. While this is not likely to happen, you should become concerned if you notice the soft spot is bulging and tense. This could be a sign of meningitis, an infection of the fluid surrounding the brain. Other signs may include fever, extreme fussiness, or lethargy.
  4. Choking. If your baby is choking on his feeds, there could be an underlying problem. While it may simply be a case of reflux or overfeeding, your baby may have a more serious problem with his anatomy, causing some of the milk to pass into the lungs instead of the stomach.
  5. Blood in the stool. Blood in your baby’s stool may simply be due to a small tear in the opening around the rectum, also known as a rectal fissure. However, more serious causes include a milk protein allergy or even an infection. All bloody stools should be evaluated by your baby’s doctor right away.
  6. Forceful vomiting. Most babies spit up occasionally, but if your baby has progressively more forceful vomiting, an immediate visit to the pediatrician is in order. She could have pyloric stenosis, a condition in which the small muscle at the bottom of the stomach is too tight. Fortunately, a simple surgery is curative.
  7. Green vomiting. If your baby’s vomit is green, call the pediatrician right away. This could indicate an obstruction in your baby’s GI tract, which may require immediate surgery to save your baby’s intestines.
  8. Your baby smells funny.  And not because his diaper needs to be changed. If you notice an unusual odor to your baby even after bathing, mention this to your pediatrician. Although rare, certain metabolic diseases can present with funny smells.
  9. Jerking arms and legs. While an occasional jerk or startle is perfectly normal in newborn babies, repetitive jerking of the extremities is not and could indicate a seizure. Other subtle signs of seizures in infants include lip smacking and eye deviation to one side. Notify your pediatrician right away if this occurs.
  10. A white spot in your baby’s pupil. A baby’s pupil should look red or dark when a light is shined into it. If you notice that your baby’s pupil is white, he could have retinoblastoma, a rare ocular cancer. Visit an ophthalmologist right away – the sooner this condition is diagnosed, the better the chances of saving your baby’s vision and preventing the cancer from spreading.

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About Dr. Kristie Rivers, Bundoo Pediatrician

Dr. Kristie Rivers is an Attending Physician, Assistant Medical Director of the Pediatric Hospitalist Program, and Director of Pediatric Medical Education at a children’s hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. She cares for hospitalized children and also teaches pediatric residents and medical students.


  1. Luckily, I never had to worry about any of these things when my girls were babies but choking is one I still worry about today even though my girls are 2 and 4. When I was pregnant I took a First Aid and CPR class and have taken it in the past because I worked at child care centers in college. I definitely feel that I need to take the class again but I do have an emergency procedure chart in case I need to perform CPR.

    1. I agree, CPR training is a must for all new parents!


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