What Is Normal for a Newborn?

What Is Normal for a Newborn Overview

What Is Normal for a Newborn?

Bringing home a new baby can be exciting and overwhelming at first. You are still in the process of getting to know your baby and understanding the different types of behavior they exhibit. This information will help you develop realistic expectations and feel confident about caring for your new baby.

Normal during early infancy

  • Pimples, dry skin and mild rashes
  • Lumps under a baby’s nipple
  • Mucous or mildly bloody vaginal discharge
  • Rusty red discoloration in the urine
  • Regurgitating (spitting up) after feedings
  • Hiccups
  • Occasional coughing to clear the throat
  • Sleeping up to 18 hours per day
  • Brief episodes of rapid, non-labored breathing
  • Day/night confusion (cluster feeding late at night)
  • Sneezing and noisy nasal congestion without breathing difficulty
  • Sucking blister at the center of the upper lip
  • Crying for diaper change, feeding or warmth
  • Not calming unless being held or cuddled


Babies cry as a way to communicate hunger, soiled diaper, overstimulation, pain, frustration and even loneliness, and in time you will learn to tell the difference in cries. When your baby continues to cry, try the following:

  • First take care of hunger, the need to feed or burp and diaper change
  • Rock your baby in a gentle, rhythmic motion
  • Pat or rub the back to help calm and relax
  • Try swaddling your baby
  • Go for a walk with your baby in a sling or stroller
  • Go for a ride in the car
  • Do not worry about spoiling your baby by holding him/her too much—it helps them to trust and love you and feel secure

Stool quality and gas

  • Thick, sticky and dark stool is normal until formula is given or breast milk arrives
  • Breast milk stools are loose and seedy
  • Formula stool can be mushy
  • As long as the stools are not firm or hard, are not bloody and come out regularly, they are normal no matter what the color
  • Gas is common in newborns
  • If gas seems excessive, try burping more frequently and using over-the-counter infant gas drops


Newborns may sleep 16 or more hours per day, typically in 3-4 hour periods. Don’t expect your baby to sleep through the night until about three months of age. If your baby is not sleeping through the night by three months, there is no reason for worry. Babies must develop their own sleep patterns and cycles by learning from a consistent, organized parenting style.

  • Initially, newborns sleep most of the day with brief periods of wakefulness lasting one to two hours each, and wake up at night for one or two feedings
  • Babies may wake at night if they are cold or need a diaper change
  • Most babies will sleep through normal household noises
  • Never put babies to sleep with bottles in their mouths. Fluids from the bottle can cause ear infections and tooth decay
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends placing babies on their backs in their cribs to reduce and prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

To reduce the risk of SIDS:

  • Don't let your baby get overheated. Room temperature should be comfortable for an adult
  • Don't smoke or let others smoke around your baby
  • Remove all fluffy and loose bedding, stuffed animals and pillows from the sleep area. Avoid blankets and top sheets
  • Place your baby on a firm mattress in a safety-approved crib
  • Make sure your baby's face is uncovered during sleep
  • Teach all caregivers to place your baby on his/her back during nap and sleep time


  • Non-nutritive sucking is a reflex and calms young infants
  • There is no objection to using pacifiers whether you are bottle or breast feeding

Baby's reflexes

  • The rooting reflex: This occurs when babies are touched on their cheeks. They turn their faces toward the touch and open their mouths. It helps babies locate food
  • Rely on the rooting reflex when feeding your baby: Gently touch the baby's cheek with the bottle nipple or your own nipple, and the baby will turn to you. When something touches babies' lips, they begin to suck
  • The Moro reflex: This startling reflex occurs when babies hear a loud noise or experience a sudden change in their pose. They throw their arms out, away from the body, and appear startled
  • The grasp reflex: This occurs when you place your finger into a baby's hand and the baby grasps your finger
Locations & Contact Information

    Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital and Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital is a collaborative program between Northwestern Memorial HealthCare and Lurie Children's and its affiliated physician groups. The physicians participating in this program are neither agents nor employees of Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital or Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital.