Baby’s first checkup usually occurs shortly after leaving the hospital. For parents, this is often a time of uncertainty, high emotion and new challenges. There are a number of things your doctor will discuss with you to ensure your baby is healthy and developing the way he or she should. Below is an outline of topics that can be discussed at the appointment and questions you may want to ask.
Does my baby have a chance of being affected by medical conditions that run in our families?
Your physician will want to know if there are congenital conditions (things people are born with) or syndromes that run in your family. This may provide your doctor with things to watch for as baby grows. Conditions such as diabetes, adult heart disease and high blood pressure are less likely to affect baby right away, but if these things run strongly in your family, a healthy lifestyle is extra important for you and baby.
Pregnancy history and delivery
Is there anything about my pregnancy, ultrasounds or delivery that concerns you?
There are findings on ultrasounds done during pregnancy that may need to be followed up after baby is born. Your pediatrician can help determine what’s needed and when to do it.
Your physician can review any problems identified in the pregnancy and discuss further care. They can also review the newborn screen and any testing that may have been done on your baby.
Feeding, growing and sleeping
Is my baby eating and growing the way you would expect?
Nearly all babies lose weight after being born. You may see your doctor before your baby starts gaining this weight back. We expect babies to weigh their birth weight by two weeks of age. Your doctor can help you determine if your baby is on track.
How do I know my baby is getting enough to eat? Should I see a lactation consultant?
This is one of the biggest concerns for breastfeeding moms. Most newborns need to eat eight to 12 times per day. The best way to know what’s going in is by paying attention to what’s coming out. If your baby is having a normal number of wet and dirty diapers you are likely doing okay.
Your doctor may recommend a lactation visit where baby is weighed before and after feeding. These visits are great to help identify breastfeeding issues and get you and baby expert advice to help breastfeeding go smoothly.
Is it normal for my baby to sleep this much or this little?
Infants sleep differently than adults. Your doctor can help identify if your baby’s sleep is normal or if you should work to adjust his or her sleep.
Is there anything on my babies examination that is concerning to you?
Your doctor will do a head to toe checkup on your baby. They can discuss findings that may include things as minor as rashes (which are very common) to more serious findings.
How do I keep my infant safe?
Practice safe sleep to decrease the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Babies should sleep on their back, in their own sleep space. This should have only the baby and the clothes he or she is wearing. Avoiding second hand smoke exposure and having your infant sleep in your room is also advised.
Monitor for fever. Any temperature of 100.4 or greater in the first few months of life can be a sign of a serious infection.
Your doctor can also discuss car seats, skin care, injury and many other elements of safety.
How do I know if my child is developing normally? What can I do to help them develop?
Your pediatrician will monitor development at each visit. It’s never too early to start reading to your baby. Start tummy time once the umbilical cord has fallen off. You can get a head start by doing this on your abdomen (by lying with your baby’s stomach down on your stomach) even before the cord is gone.
When should I bring my child in for the next appointment?
This will depend on how they are doing at the first visit. Many babies need their weight checked around 2 weeks of age. Your doctor may see you at 1 month of age. All babies should be seen at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months and after their first birthday. There are additional visits in the second year of life, and we like to see children at least yearly after their third birthday.
What are your recommendations regarding vaccines in my baby’s first year?
Hepatitis B is recommended shortly after birth. Vaccines are then recommended at 2, 4, 6 and 12 months. You can discuss the reason for vaccines and any questions you may have at the first visit or later visits.
How do I contact you with questions? What if it’s after hours?
Offices have different procedures for handling after-hour questions. Talk with your doctor about the office routine. Routine questions are usually answered over the phone. Some offices provide a way to ask questions via messaging that works much like email.
One of the great things about these visits is they can be customized to your concerns and your baby’s needs. The above is an outline, but your visit may look different. Use your physician’s office as a resource to make this challenging time a little less stressful.