There are so many things about a newborn baby that are terrifying: The weird noises they make, the odd bodily fluids no one tells you about... almost any thing can send you into a Googling tailspin that inevitably ends with a panicked call to the pediatrician. If you've got a newborn on your hands, you may have noticed that your baby's feet might look a little blue or purple, and while it may look unsettling, you don't have to go into full panic mode just yet.
Baby feet oftentimes will turn purple because their circulatory system isn't fully developed.
"If your baby's hands or feet look blue or purple and the rest of their body is pink and she's acting normal, there is nothing to worry about," Jean Moorjani, M.D., a pediatrician at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, tells Romper.
"It's just something that we see in newborn babies because of their young circulatory systems, and it goes away over time. If you notice her entire body is blue or purple, especially her face or around her mouth, that's a reason to call your doctor or seek medical attention immediately."
Parenting site Bounty further explained that babies can often get purplish hands and feet that also feel cold to the touch, which makes you think you need to put them in front of a space heater or crank the thermostat up to 90. However, such measures aren't necessary, and so long as "baby’s lips and tongue are pink, there is nothing to worry about." The site suggested, "Try rubbing the hands or feet to warm them, put on some socks or even just offer some warm lovely cuddles." That sounds like a lovely fix for all parties involved.
However, it is important to take note of any other locations where your baby might be turning blue or purple, in addition to their hands and feet, because that can indicate a lack of oxygen in the blood. "If there is a bluish cast over the entire body, the blood may be lacking sufficient oxygen. Blue primarily around the lips may also indicate low blood oxygen," noted WebMd. If your baby looks blue around the lips or whole body, it's time to call the doctor right away to get him checked.
The one other factor you'll want to consider in discerning whether your baby's purple feet are normal or not is her age. Stanford Children's Health said that the blue or purple hands and feet are really just a newborn baby quality. "A baby's hands and feet may stay bluish in color for several days. This is a normal response to a baby's immature blood circulation." Once your baby is a few weeks old, you shouldn't be seeing purple feet any longer.
And if you see a blue or purplish spot above your baby's bum, that could be a Mongolian spot and is also completely normal, although it does only affect children with dark skin. "Over 80 percent of African-American, Asian, and Indian babies have Mongolian spots, but they occur in dark-skinned babies of all races," according to Stanford Children's Health. When I first saw our daughter's mark above her buns, I was convinced she'd been bruised in the hospital. As it turns out, "The spots are caused by a concentration of pigmented cells" and "disappear in the first four years of life," said the hospital's site.
While any part of your baby turning colors can be quite scary, it's helpful to know that in most instances, the alien-like tinge can be completely normal especially if it's isolated to their feet and hands. Of course, whenever you're worried or in doubt, get your pediatrician on the phone.
Jean Moorjani, M.D., pediatrician at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children
This post was originally published on 8/29/2018. It was updated on 9/4/2019.
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