Once your baby is born, the primary function of the hospital or birth staff is to ensure that mother and baby are healthy. The APGAR test is an assessment of your baby’s overall health, and was developed in 1972 by Dr. Virginia Apgar, an obstetric anesthesiologist. The APGAR test is used in hospitals all over the world as a standard tool to measure how a newborn is faring in its new environment.

The APGAR is an assessment of your baby’s overall health, and it involves measuring appearance (color), pulse (heart rate), grimace (reflex), activity (muscle tone) and respiration (breathing).  

When Is The APGAR Test Applied?

Within the first minute of your baby’s life an APGAR assessment is made, and then again at five minutes.  

Why Is It Used?

The APGAR test helps doctors understand the overall health of the baby and they can quickly decide if any medical treatment is necessary. If the baby is doing poorly at the first minute test, the five minute test will tell doctors if it is responding to treatment, such as resuscitation or medicine administered.  

How Is The APGAR Scored?

Each part of the test involves a score of between 0 and 2, for a maximum total of 10 points. On the first minute test a score of 7 or higher usually indicates that your baby is doing well and will not need medical intervention other than routine care, while a score between 4 and 6 may mean that your child needs assistance with breathing. A score less than four usually means that lifesaving measures are required.

After 5 minutes your baby will be retested to see if he or she is improving. Babies with a score less than 7 will likely need monitoring and will be tested every 5 minutes for the next 20 minutes. Although your baby may score below 7, this does not mean that he or she will have a lingering health problem. Here is an outline of how each part of the APGAR is measured:  

Heart Rate:

  • No heart rate detected

  • Under 100 beats per minute (indicates baby is not very responsive)

  • Over 100 beats per minute (baby is very active) 


  • Not breathing

  • Baby is crying weakly, whimpering or grunting

  • Baby is crying strongly

Muscle Tone:

  • Limp

  • Some bending of limbs

  • Actively moving


  • No response when airway is stimulated

  • Grimace when airway stimulated

  • Grimace as well as cough or sneeze during airway stimulation


  • Baby is blue or pale over entire body

  • Baby is blue in hands or feet, rest of body has good color

  • Baby’s body is entirely pink or of good color

Now that you know what the APGAR test is you can follow along with what the doctors are saying as they assess your baby. Although, it is more likely that you will be so enamored with your new life that you will completely ignore everything else that is going on in the room around you.