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Treatment - Jaundice in newborn babies

Your GP, PHN or midwife will examine your baby. They will usually ask you to undress your baby to do this.

Checks and tests

They will:

  • check your baby's skin in bright, natural light
  • check your baby's eyes and gums
  • ask you if your baby had jaundice when they were born

If they have any concerns, they may decide your baby needs more tests.

The level of jaundice can be quickly checked with a small device called a 'bilimeter'. The bilimeter is placed gently on your baby's skin and it reads the jaundice level. This test will not hurt your baby. It is usually done in a baby clinic or paediatric (children's) emergency department (ED).

Other tests your baby might need include:

  • blood tests
  • tests for infection
  • a liver scan

These tests are usually done in the hospital.


If your baby has jaundice, your GP, PHN or midwife will tell you if treatment is needed. Babies only need treatment if they have a high level of bilirubin.

The main treatment for jaundice is phototherapy. This involves placing your baby under a light that helps to break down bilirubin. When their bilirubin level is low enough, you can take them home.

Your baby may need another blood test after their treatment has finished. This is to make sure their bilirubin level stays down.

Feeding your baby

It's important that your baby gets plenty of fluids if they have jaundice. You will need to feed your baby every 3 to 4 hours during the treatment.

If your baby becomes dehydrated, they may need extra fluids through a drip. This is a small plastic tube placed into their arm, hand, or foot. Fluids can be given into your baby's bloodstream using this tube.

Page last reviewed: 10 May 2023
Next review due: 10 May 2026