Red Skin


Parents and grandparents often ask if it is OK that their new baby turns beet red sometimes. The answer is, "Yes, it really is OK." We medical people like it when babies are red. Red means there is plenty of oxygen in her system and her heart is pumping efficiently. We DON'T like blue, white or grey babies — there is something wrong and we need to act quickly.

The all-over red color is a total-body blush. We all blush red when we are emotional — embarrassed, angry, or surprised. Your baby will do the same thing, but it will be a total-body blush. You will notice it most when she is crying.

Her sympathetic nervous system, the part of her nervous system that controls her digestion, heart rate, breathing, sweating, and the dilation of her blood vessels, is still brand new. It isn't regulating automatic body functions very well yet, but it will in a month or two. In the mean time, don't worry about it. Most of us can't control our sympathetic nervous system, and that's normal.

Thanks to Janelle Aby MD, Stanford School Of Medicine, Newborn Nursery, and Lucille Packard Children's Hospital for the use of occasional photographs.