Jaundice (Newborns)

Medically Reviewed by Renee A. Alli, MD on November 15, 2021

Call 911 if your baby:

  • Is not feeding well
  • Is listless
  • Has a fever

Jaundice is common in newborns and not harmful in most cases, but it can be dangerous in some newborns and cause brain damage even in babies with no risk factors.

Call Doctor If:

If your newborn shows signs of jaundice after leaving the hospital, or if the jaundice gets worse, see your pediatrician right away.

Any baby with signs of jaundice -- yellow skin and eyes -- should be seen by a doctor. Jaundice is often noticed in the hospital during your baby's first few days, and instructions are usually given to follow up with the pediatrician one day after discharge.

Treat Symptoms as Recommended

  • For mild jaundice, your doctor may recommend increasing the feeding frequency with breast milk or formula. The excess bilirubin in the blood, which causes jaundice, will pass through stool.
  • Your doctor also may recommend limited exposure to sunlight. Be sure you understand and follow the doctor's instructions about how to expose your baby to sunlight, when to do it, and how long the exposure should last.
  • Mild jaundice frequently goes away on its own.
  • For more serious jaundice, your doctor may recommend phototherapy, a treatment with a special light.

Show Sources


MedlinePlus: "Newborn jaundice."

The Nemours Foundation: "Jaundice in Healthy Newborns."

American Liver Foundation: "Newborn Jaundice."

© 2021 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved. View privacy policy and trust info