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Chapter: 12th Nursing : Chapter 5 : Child Health Nursing

Definition of Newborn

A newborn is otherwise known as a “neonate” is a child under 28 days of age.

Definition of Newborn

A newborn is otherwise known as a “neonate” is a child under 28 days of age.


Neonatal period

The period between birth to first 28 days is known as neonatal period. Early neonatal period is the first seven days of life after birth. Late neonatal period includes from the 8th day to 28th day. Proper care of the newborn during this period is mandatory to pave a foundation for a healthy life.


Characteristics of Newborn Baby

Physical characteristics

·  Birth weight of the normal term newborn ranges from 2.5 to 4.0 kg.

·  Length ranges from 47-52 cm.

·  Babies head circumference ranges from 34 cm - 35 cm and chest circumference ranges from 31 cm -32 cm

·  The chest circumference is approximately 2-3 cm less than the head circumference at birth.

·  The chest is rounded and abdomen is prominent.

·  Newborn’s trunk is relatively larger and the extremities are short.

·  Newborn has flexed attitude.

Physiological characteristics

·  Temperature is 36­.5°C to 37.5°C

·  Heart rate is 120-160 beats per minute

·  Respiratory rate is 40-60 breaths per minute

·  Baby has a vigorous cry.

·  Baby has normal breathing, pink in colour, sucking and swallowing normally

·  Newborn passes its first stool within 24 hours and are dark green coloured and thick. The first stool is known as meconium. The colour of the stool changes after initiation of breast feeding.

·  The first urine is passed during or shortly after birth.

·  The newborn loses 10% of its body weight during the first week. The initial weight loss is regain by 10th day.

·  Hemoglobin is high (around 18g/dl)


Important Neonatal Reflexes

Rooting Reflex

Eliciting Rooting reflex

It helps the baby to locate the mother’s nipple without the mother directing the baby’s mouth. When the corner of the baby’s mouth is touched, the lower lip is lowered and the tongue is brought forward towards the contact.

Sucking and swallowing reflexes

Eliciting sucking reflex

Introduce a clean finger in to the mouth of the newborn and the baby will start sucking the finger.

Moro reflex

Newborn exhibiting Moro reflex

It is elicited by raising the shoulder for 450° from ground and then dropping by 30°. There will be abduction and extension of arms with opening of fingers. This is followed by flexion and adduction of arms.

Palmar Grasp reflex

Eliciting Palmar grasp

It is elicited by touching the baby’s palm from the ulnar side with finger or any other suitable object. The fingers close and grasp the object.


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