Sunlight for newborn jaundice

By | September 8, 2009

Blue light has long been accepted as a way of treating jaundice. This treatment came about through the observations of a very smart nurse who observed that babies near windows had less problems with jaundice, which led to research…..

Another separate study assessed the use of sunlight (which is abundant) as compared with the special blue lights (less available in resource poor regions in the middle east) and found that it works just fine and in fact better, though I guess medical facilities would prefer to avoid risks of sunburn or infection for severely jaundiced babies.

Here is what to do if your baby is mildly yellow.

  • Figure out a place where the baby can enjoy sunlight. This may be near a window, balcony, or, like in our case, the terrace of our building.
  • Morning or evening light is what you want. Day is too harsh for baby. Morning is better if you live in the city – less pollution.
  • If you are at home, lucky you. If like me, you head out, prepare well.
  • You will want to expose the most skin, but protect the eyes. If you have special dark glasses like in the hospital, great. If not, creating shade for the eyes works well, particularly if you are careful about timing. This can even be in the form of a cap or bonnet.
  • Stuff you want to take along, or keep handy. A mat to lie on, some means of protecting eyes and ideally, some way to create a darker area in the direction the baby is facing.
  • I take along a tent-like mosquito net, which I used to place over the baby and drape a dark cloth on the side opposite to where the sun rays hit. Then I used to place the baby inside with his head toward the sun, so that he had a nice dark area where he was looking.
  • Careful placing of the shade for the eyes, and this dark area worked well to protect his eyes so that he wasn’t squinting while still allowing him to sunbathe.
  • Duration is important. 5-10 minutes is good. You don’t want to cook the baby. 5 minutes or less on his back and similar on his tummy should do the trick.
  • Watch baby carefully. My baby loves this time. He used to “unfurl” from his preferred curled up posture and really stretch out when the sun rays hit him. Watering eyes, squinting, fussiness should prompt you to immediately pay attention to protecting his eyes.
  • Do this for a couple of days till the yellowness goes away.

Please note that I’m not a doctor, and this is not medical advice. I am simply sharing suggestions based on what I did. Might be a good idea to bounce this off your doctor first before trying it out.

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