Symptoms of Jaundice in Newborn Babies 

Jaundice usually appears about three days after birth and disappears by the time the baby is two weeks old. In premature babies, who are more prone to jaundice, it can take five to seven days to appear and usually lasts slightly longer. It also lasts longer in babies who are breastfed.

If your baby has jaundice, their skin will look slightly yellow. It often looks like a suntan. The yellowing of the skin usually starts on the head and face, before spreading to the chest and stomach. In some babies, the yellowing reaches their legs and arms.


Yellowing may appear more pronounced if you press an area of skin down with your finger.

Changes in skin colour can be more difficult to spot if your baby has a darker skin tone, so other signs of yellowing to watch out for include:

  • In the whites of their eyes
  • Inside their mouth
  • On the soles of their feet
  • On the palms of their hand

Other associated symptoms can include:

  • poor sucking or feeding
  • sleepiness
  • a high-pitched cry
  • limpness (floppiness)
  • dark urine instead of colourless urine
  • pale stools (faeces or 'poo') instead of bright yellow or orange coloured stools

When to seek medical advice

You will usually be referred to a follow-up appointment 72 hours after birth with a midwife or similar to check for signs of jaundice.But if your baby develops jaundice after this time contact your GP for advice. While jaundice is not usually a cause for concern it is important their bilirubin levels are measured to determine if they require treatment.

Read more about the diagnosis of jaundice in babies.

NHS Choices
Symptoms of jaundice in newborn babies
Last reviewed: 06/02/2012

Related Topics