Bringing new life into this world is a miracle in itself. The first time a mom gets to welcome her baby boy or girl—after carrying their child inside their womb for nine long months—seems to make everything else disappear. That mom’s main concern is now her baby and the love that she has for them.
Within 24 hours after the baby is born, they will see a pediatrician while still in the hospital. Then, within the baby’s first week of life—typically between three and five days—the newborn should have their first pediatrician checkup at the doctor’s office. Part of making sure that a newborn is safe and healthy is making it to every checkup.
For new moms, the first checkup outside of the hospital may sometimes seem intimidating or stressful because they don’t really know what to expect, but don’t fear, mom. Be confident in those parenting skills and a baby's natural capability to grow. There may be some things that moms expect to happen during this first appointment, such as checking the baby’s growth; however, there may be other things moms may not realize will happen at their baby’s first checkup that they really should be aware of.
It's always a good idea to learn about what to expect so that there are no surprises and mom can be prepared and feel a little less anxious. Continue reading learn more!
20 A Mom's List Of Questions
Before a mom even takes her newborn to their first checkup, it is an excellent and beneficial idea for mom to make a list of questions or concerns that she may have for her child’s pediatrician. This can help prevent mom from forgetting to ask pertinent questions. With all the changes that take place after a mom welcomes her baby into this world—and thanks to that dreaded pregnancy brain that can actually last up to two years, according to Sciencemag.org—forgetting things can come with the territory. Toward the end of the newborn's checkup, according to Whattoexpect.com, the pediatrician should allow mom time to ask whatever questions she may have.
19 Checking All The Reflexes
When some moms think of their newborn having their reflexes checked at their first pediatrician checkup, they may think of the doctor just tapping right under their kneecap with a reflex hammer; like they do with older children and adults. Most moms don’t realize that there are five different newborn reflexes that get checked, according to Whattoexpect.com. Newborns have the rooting and sucking reflex, stepping reflex, Moro reflex, grasp reflex, and last but not least, the tonic neck reflex.
The rooting and sucking reflex helps the baby find their food source and then latch on so they can eat. For the stepping reflex, the doctor will check to see if the baby appears to be taking steps while being held upright. The Moro reflex is better known as the "startling reflex," which tests to see the baby appears jumpy when they are laid on their back or to see if they react to noises by appearing to be startled. For the grasping reflex, the doctor will stroke the baby’s palm to see if their fingers will curl up. And the tonic neck reflex makes the baby look like she is fencing.
18 A Baby's Focus On Objects
Another developmental milestone that the pediatrician will check is the baby’s vision and their ability to focus on things that are between eight and 15 inches away from their adorable little face, according to Whattoexpect.com. That is approximately the distance the newborn will be able to focus on and usually nothing more; at least not at this point in their life. That is roughly equivalent to the newborn focusing on their mother’s face while he or she is being held, according to Aoa.com. This focus check can help the pediatrician determine if mom’s little one may have a vision impairment. Keep in mind that babies develop at their own rate and most standards or statistics are gathered from an average.
17 Pediatricians Have Strong Opinions About Safety In The Home And Car
There are far too many topics to discuss when it comes to a newborn’s safety while at home or in a car that it would be impossible for a doctor to voice their opinion about every little detail during one visit. However, pediatricians do usually have very strong opinions about the baby’s safety in these areas. Mom’s usually tend to receive a lot of information about their newborn's safety while they are still in the hospital so the doctor may just give mom a few tips on keeping their baby safe and healthy, especially while in a car.
Making sure that an infant is in the proper American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended car seat may be at the top of the list. According to Healthychildren.org, infants and toddlers should only be in either a rear-facing-only or rear-facing convertible car seat that is placed in the center of the backseat. If a mom has specific safety questions, she should make sure to address it with the pediatrician at the baby’s first checkup.
16 Discussion About How Everyone Is Adjusting
There is a good chance that the newborn’s pediatrician will ask mom how everyone is adjusting to life with the little one. This discussion is more so aimed at mom and how she is adjusting, especially for first-time moms. Once you go from being childless to having this new life to care for, things will never be the same again. For so many moms, adjusting to a new baby can be quite immense between the crying, lack of sleep, and late-night feedings. Even moms with more than one child need to be checked in on. If mom has been showing signs of postpartum depression, she should take the time to discuss how she’s been feeling with the doctor now.
15 Measuring The Baby (Even Their Head)
Most moms expect that their newborn will be measured at some point during the checkup. However, they may not realize that it is not only their child’s length that will be measured but their head circumference too, according to Thebump.com. The reason the baby’s head gets measured, according to Parents.com, is because it helps the doctor’s track the growth of the baby’s brain while their skull bone begins to fuse together. If the baby’s head is larger than average, that doesn’t always mean that something is wrong. It could be caused by genetics, especially if mom or dad also have a larger sized head.
14 Doctor Might Impose His Opinion On Where The Baby Should Sleep
During the baby’s first checkup, the pediatrician might try to impose their own opinion on where the baby should sleep. But there may be a good reason behind that. According to Healthychildren.org, “More than 3,500 babies in the U.S. [pass away] suddenly and unexpectedly every year while sleeping due to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).” That is a huge loss for grieving parents, so sometimes taking the doctor’s recommendation could be a good thing as well as a lifesaver.
According to Healthychildren.org, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that the baby share a room with their parents for at least the first six months of their life, but they should have their own space to sleep that is on a firm surface such as their crib, a portable crib, or even in a bassinet. This also means that co-sleeping is not seen as being safe for a young child. The doctor may also mention the fact that babies should always sleep on their backs until at least their first birthday, according to Babycenter.com.
13 The Pediatrician May Imply That Mom Has Too Many Questions
Unfortunately, not all doctors have the best bedside manners. Moms should be aware of the fact that sometimes their baby’s pediatrician may imply that they are asking too many questions not only during the first checkup but all other visits as well. Coming from personal experience when it comes to working side-by-side with doctors, they often tend to think that some things should be self-explanatory when it may not be that way for everyone, especially for new moms or young moms. If your newborn’s pediatrician begins to imply this, do not shy away from asking your questions no matter what. You have a right to ask questions. If the doctor comes off as being extremely arrogant or rude, he may not be the doctor for you and your baby.
12 Examination Of The Umbilical Cord Stump
Not all moms may expect their newborn’s pediatrician to do a thorough examination of their child’s umbilical stump, but it is an important part of the checkup, according to Whattoexpect.com. The reason is it so important is because the doctor needs to make sure that there is no infection present. If an infection is present, the area around the stump could become inflamed with some swelling as well as have some oozing discharge that tends to have an unpleasant odor, according to Fairview.org. The area may also be quite tender. To treat the infection the pediatrician may prescribe the newborn a script to help clear up the infection.
11 Possible Bilirubin Labs Or Skin Check
Most mom’s do not realize that there is the slightest chance they may walk out of their child’s pediatrician’s office with a script to get lab work done to check the newborn's bilirubin levels if the baby has a darker skin complexion. According to Whattoexpect.com, the reason the pediatrician may do this is that it is a little harder to check for jaundice—yellowing of the skin—on babies who are dark-skinned. When the baby has a lighter skin complexion, jaundice is much more detectable. Jaundice is a temporary condition that does not last forever. So, if your child is diagnosed with this condition there is nothing to worry about.
10 Examine A Baby's Legs And Arms For Mobility
There are multiple developmental milestones that a pediatrician will look for while examining the newborn to determine how the baby is developing and at what rate. One of those milestones is to check the baby’s arms and legs for mobility and to make sure that they move equally well on both sides, according to Whattoexpect.com. Moms should try to keep in mind that each baby develops at their own rate. However, with this examination, the doctor may be able to tell if there is a developmental delay with the newborn's mobility and see what the next step may be, according to Whattoexpect.com.
9 Knowing What To Look For If Baby Gets Sick
Many pediatricians, such as Paula Prezioso, MD – a guest contributor on Thebump.com, will have a conversation with mom regarding when she should call them about her newborn. In other words, the doctor will most likely discuss what to look out for if the baby were to become seriously ill or if an emergency were to arise. However, moms should be aware that not all pediatricians are as thoughtful as Dr. Prezioso and may not even bring the subject up. If that is the case, mom should bring the subject up herself because it is very important and useful information to have. When my nephew was taken to his first checkup, the doctor neglected to mention anything about what my sister should do if her son were to get sick or even develop a high fever.
8 Discuss Those Dreaded Diaper Changes
During a baby’s first checkup, the subject of how often your newborn goes number one and number two might come up. A baby’s bowel movements and how often they tinkle can say a lot about what is going on with them internally. According to Whattoexpect.com, a newborn’s feces can be much different compared to what mom may be used to since it can vary in color, smell, and texture. Not to mention, how the bowel’s look varies by whether or not the babe is being breastfed or bottle fed.
One very good reason a pediatrician asks about these things is to make sure that actually taking in enough milk and is well hydrated. According to Whattoexpect.com, if the baby’s stool appears dry, that is a sign that the baby is not getting enough to drink while hard stools can mean that the newborn is eating too many things that their digestive system cannot handle yet such as cow’s milk. As gross as it may sound, moms should be paying attention to their baby’s bowels and urine color.
7 Can The Baby Briefly Lift Their Head?
Moms may not realize that during their newborn's first checkup that the pediatrician will be checking yet another developmental milestone to see where their baby is at progress wise. This time, the doctor will place the newborn on their tummy and check to see if he or she is able to briefly lift their head up, according to Whattoexpect.com. Since the baby is usually a little less than a week old during their first checkup, it may take some real effort for the little one to be able to lift their head since their neck muscles are not strong enough yet, according to Candokiddo.com. This brief head lift usually occurs anywhere from birth to two weeks of age.
6 Tongue Check
Moms usually don’t realize that part of their newborn’s first checkup usually involves a quick examination of the baby’s tongue. The reason that the pediatrician will check the tongue during the first checkup is simply to look for something called tongue-tie. According to Babycentre.co.uk, Tongue-tie “happens when [the baby’s] tongue remains more anchored to the bottom of [their] mouth than it should be.” This can sometimes cause some major problems when it comes to the baby trying to latch on to eat when she is being breastfed—along with some other issues—since tongue-tie restricts the movement of the tongue. If the baby is eating well and putting on the ounces, there is no need for treatment. If it is causing issues, the baby would need a simple procedure called a frenotomy, according to Babycentre.co.uk.
5 How Is The Baby Eating?
At the baby’s first checkup, the pediatrician may ask mom about how her newborn has been eating, according to Thebump.com. Mom will also typically be asked if she chose to bottle feed or breastfeed her little one. It is important that babies are not spitting up everything that they eat to ensure that they are getting the proper nutrients they need to grow strong and healthy. If the baby is spitting up most of their milk, the doctor can help mom figure out what her options are. The pediatrician may also inquire about how much the baby is eating during feedings to make sure the babe is eating enough without overfeeding.
4 Hepatitis B Vaccination Check
When a baby is first born—if mom chooses to follow the CDC recommendation to get her newborn vaccinated—they will usually receive their first ever vaccination; the Hepatitis B or Hep B vaccine. However, according to Whattoexpect.com, if the baby for whatever reason did not receive this after birth, they will get it during her first pediatric checkup. If mom is unsure whether or not her child received the hep B vaccination, she should ask her little one’s doctor during this appointment. It is always a good idea to keep a record or what vaccinations a child receives throughout their lifetime.
3 Hands To Face
One thing that only some pediatricians seem to check, that moms may not realize, during a baby’s first checkup is to see if the newborn can put their hand to their mouth. However, according to the CDC.gov, when newborns put their hand to their mouth it is actually a sign that the baby is hungry. Newborns are not capable of talking to let their mother know when they are hungry or need something, so the baby will usually give off little cues when it is time to eat. It is very important for a mom to pay attention to these cues so that she is not missing anything. By the time a newborn begins to cry from being hungry they are usually starving since crying is actually a late sign of hunger.
2 Comprehensive Family History
Something that not all moms anticipate at their child’s first checkup is that they are usually asked to complete a comprehensive family history, according to Thebump.com. On top of that, the pediatrician may also ask questions about how the pregnancy and birth went and if there were any issues or complications. The reason mom is asked about her family history, as well as the father’s, is because genetics play a role in just about everything, according to Thebump.com. There is so much that can be passed down from parents to their child. The pediatrician will also be extremely interested in any childhood illness that either mom or dad may have had. It is a good idea to get your family history together before the appointment so that you do not forget anything that may be pertinent. If possible, ask your own parents to fill in gaps with your family history.
1 All The Sick Kids
This next one isn’t exactly part of the exam during the baby’s first checkup, but it involves the waiting area instead and is something that some moms don’t realize until it’s too late and they are already at the appointment. But moms should be prepared for all of the sick children that are usually lurking around the pediatrician’s office. Emily Westbrooks, a contributor on Romper.com, said she was not prepared for all of the sick kids that were there, but she said she was lucky enough to have an extra blanket with her to put over her baby’s car seat to block some of the germs from reaching her little one. Babies have weaker immune systems that are not fully developed yet which can lead to a higher risk of a baby getting an infection, according to Pregnancybirthbaby.org.au. Any preventative measure can help keep newborns a bit safer.
References: Thebump.com, Whattoexpect.com, Romper.com, TheBump.com, Parents.com, Fairview.org, AOA.com, Candokiddo.com, Sciencemag.org, Healthychildren.org, Babycenter.com, Healthychildren.org, Healthychildren.org, Whattoexpect.com, Healthychildren.org, Babycentre.co.uk, Babycentre.co.uk, Pregnancybirthbaby.org.au, CDC.gov,