School of Nursing

5th Floor Fisher Hall
600 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15282
Phone: 412.396.6550
Fax: 412.396.6346

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Physical Assessment of the Newborn

This site is in the process of being updated.

photo of normal newborn

Normal Newborn: General Appearance

  • Well-flexed, full range of motion, spontaneous movement

Common variations:
  • Legs extended with frank breech

Signs of potential distress or deviations from expected findings:
  • Posture limp

  • Asymmetry of movement

  • Persistent tremor, twitching


Special thanks to Robert, Barbara, and Allison Clifford for their participation in the preparation of the video clips used in this presentation.


Burns, C.E., Barber, N., Brady, M.A., Dunn, A.M., (1996) Pediatric Primary Care: A Handbook for Nurse Practitioners, Philadelphia, W.B. Saunders Company.

Gorrie, Trula Myers, McKinney, Emily Stone, and Murray, Sharon Smith. (1994). Foundations of maternal newborn nursing,Philadelphia; W. B. Saunders Company.

Wong, Donna L. (l995). Whaley & Wong's nursing care of infants and children; contributing editor, David Wilson. 5th edition. St. Louis: Mosby.

Variations and minor departures in infants (1994), Mead Johnson & Company: Evansville, Indiana.


CTS staff, Duquesne University.

Created by Lenore K. Resick, PhD, CRNP, FNP-BC, NP-C, FAANP
311 Fisher Hall

© 1996 Duquesne University