Physical Exam of the Newborn

Physical Exam of the Newborn

A complete physical exam is an
important part of newborn care. Each body system is carefully checked for signs of health
and normal function. The healthcare provider also looks for any signs of illness or birth
defects. Physical exam of a newborn often includes assessment of the following:

  • Vital signs:

    • Temperature. Able to
      maintain stable body temperature of 97.0°F to 98.6°F (36.1°C to 37°C) in normal
      room environment.

    • Heartbeat. Normally 120 to
      160 beats per minute. It may be much slower when an infant sleeps.

    • Breathing rate. Normally
      40 to 60 breaths per minute.

    • Blood pressure. Normally
      an upper number (systolic) between 60 and 80, and a lower number (diastolic)
      between 30 and 45.

    • Oxygen saturation.
      Normally 95% to 100% on room air.

  • General appearance. Physical
    activity, muscle tone, posture, and level of consciousness or whether or not an
    infant is awake and alert.

  • Skin. Color, texture, nails,
    presence of rashes.

  • Head and neck:

    • Appearance, shape, and
      shaping of the head from passage through the birth canal (molding)

    • The open soft spots
      between the bones of the baby’s skull (fontanels)

    • Bones across the upper
      chest (clavicles)

  • Face. Eyes, ears, nose, cheeks.
    Presence of red reflex in the eyes.

  • Mouth. Roof of the mouth
    (palate), tongue, throat.

  • Lungs. Breath sounds, breathing
    pattern.

  • Heart sounds and femoral (in the
    groin) pulses

  • Abdomen. Presence of masses or
    hernias.

  • Genitals and anus. Open passage
    for of urine and stool and normally formed male and female genitals.