Neonatal thrombocytopenia defined as the presence of a circulating platelet count <150x109/L is a common abnormality in babies admitted to Neonatal Intensive Care Units. Thrombocytopenia that is typically mild and self-limiting often accompanies neonatal stress in scenarios such as premature delivery or intrauterine growth restriction. However, the differential diagnosis of neonatal thrombocytopenia is wide and includes potential life-threatening disorders such as bacterial sepsis, viral infection and necrotizing enterocolitis. Distinguishing these causes of thrombocytopenia from entities such as genetic thrombocytopenia and fetal and neonatal alloimmune thrombocytopenia is critical for the accurate quantitation of significant adverse events such as intracranial bleeding and for the selection of treatments such as platelet transfusion. In this review, we focus on common differential diagnoses of neonatal thrombocytopenia and highlight how the landscape of diagnosis and management is changing with recent advances in genomic technology and the completion of pivotal clinical trials of platelet transfusion practice. Increasing evidence highlights the need for judicious and restrictive use of platelet transfusions in neonates.