Many symptoms that are normal as an adult will seem outrageously worrisome when you notice them on your baby. For example, a minor sunburn or a scrape will probably go unnoticed on yourself but will make you loose sleep when you see them on your baby. Bruises are one such symptom, and you might be shocked the first time you see any on your baby’s delicate skin. Before you worry about your baby’s safety or rush him to the hospital, it’s important that you understand why bruising looks so much worse on your baby’s skin.

Bruises on a person of any age are caused by even the most minor bump. When the skin is forcefully hit, the local blood vessels rupture and release blood under the skin. The area turns black and blue then eventually green or yellow as the same blood is reabsorbed. Your baby’s skin is much thinner than yours, so bruises will look more serious and be much more obvious. You’ll worry when you notice any, but don’t jump to conclusions until you’ve explored all possibilities.

Many newborn babies are born with bruises from their journey out of the womb. The birth canal is small, and there’s a good chance your baby was bumped a bit along the way. Even without any labor complications, bruises can be acquired during this time. If your baby is starting to move around on his or her own, each bruise is almost certainly the battle scar from a scuffle with the floor or a nearby table. Your baby’s coordination is clearly not developed yet, so bumps are common. Next time, monitor your baby more closely during playtime and see when the bruises might be caused.

If your baby is beyond this stage and frequents any childcare service, you might want to approach the caregiver directly about the bruises. Whether it’s a daycare or a trusted babysitter, breaching the subject will give you peace of mind. If you suspect abuse, immediately take your baby out of the care of that particular service or person and find another until you’ve cleared up the issue for certain. It might be difficult to get to the bottom of the problem in this case, but the most important thing is to keep your baby safe. If you suspect your baby’s bruises are from abuse or even just a lack of supervision, it’s time to take action.

Source: Kenneth Feldman. The Bruised Premobile Infant: Should You Evaluate Further? Pediatric Emergency Care Volume 25 Issue 1 pp.37-39 January 2009

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