Newborn Vital Signs

Nursing Knowledge

Newborn Vital Signs

Newborns are not yet able to regulate their body systems to the extent older people can. Abnormal vital signs in newborns can indicate serious health issues like infection, congenital issues, or respiratory distress. Knowing the normal ranges of newborn vital signs ensures we can detect and address potential problems early on.
Last updated: March 25, 2024

Table of contents

Normal newborn vital signs 

Normal newborn heart rate

A newborn’s heart rate should be between 120–160 beats per minute. Newborn heart rates can fluctuate significantly during activity or crying, often reaching higher rates.

Normal newborn blood pressure

A newborn’s blood pressure is supposed to be significantly lower than adult values. Normal values are systolic: 60–80, diastolic: 30–45. 

Blood pressure in newborns is usually measured using an appropriate-sized cuff and a Doppler device or oscillometric method. 

Normal newborn respiratory rate

A normal respiratory rate in a newborn is 30–60 breaths per minute. It’s common for infants to have irregular breathing, which can include short pauses of no breathing (learn how to differentiate normal pauses from newborn apnea here). 

Normal newborn temperature

A proper thermal environment needs to be maintained around newborns, as they can easily become too cold or too hot. Normal values:

  • Axillary: 97°F–99°F (36.1°C–37.2°C)
  • Rectal: 97.7°F–100.2°F (36.5°C–37.8°C)

Normal newborn oxygen saturation

Oxygen saturation should be 95%–100% on room air. 

Interventions for abnormal vital signs

When encountering abnormal vital signs in a newborn, notify the provider and frequently reassess.

  • Abnormal respiratory rate: Look for signs of respiratory distress, such as wheezing, labored breathing, or apnea.
  • Abnormal temperature: Keep the newborn dry and tightly wrapped in a blanket. Provide a warm environment.
  • O2 saturation: Stimulate the infant. Suction the airway as needed.

Nursing tips for the newborn assessment 

It is helpful to start with the least invasive vital sign. Vital signs in newborns should be checked every 4 hours. Take one full minute to count respirations and apical pulse. The apical pulse on a newborn is lateral to the left midclavicular line, at the 4th intercostal space.

Note that environmental and circumstantial factors can impact vital sign values: 

  • Crying may lead to irregular heart rate.
  • Room temperature and clothing may impact temperature readings. 


Newborn Vital Signs

Free Download

Nursing Cheat Sheet

Brief overview of normal newborn vital signs and interventions for abnormal vital signs.

Master the topic with a unique study combination of a concise summary paired with video lectures. 

User Reviews