As if there were not already enough doctors appointments during pregnancy, once the baby is born that trend will keep going for at least another several months as that little one grows older. It is important that moms get the most out of their children's pediatricians visits, especially if they are first-time moms, with so much to know and so much to discover sometimes a kind word from the pediatrician can be all Mom needs to set her mind at ease.
The things covered in the very first visit can sometimes come as a surprise to new moms–even though once the baby finally makes his or her debut, doctors at the hospital typically walk new moms through scheduling the first appointment for their newborns and what sort of things to expect, what kind of forms to bring, and how long one should wait before seeing the doctor for the first time.
But because we know mom brain has already started to kick in and there is just so much information going in one ear and out the other now that those adorable little hands and feet are finally in full view, we thought we would write down a list of 20 things one should expect at their little one's first pediatrician appointment, just in case, and as a reference guide, check out our list below.
Surprise, surprise, your little one's very first doctors visit will be just days after you leave the hospital–3-5 days to be exact. Seem a little redundant? Not so much, you see by scheduling your little one's visit just mere days after they leave the hospital, pediatricians can be on the lookout for any problems that could have arisen shortly after birth that may have gone undetected when you were still at the hospital. And get used to it, your little one needs to go back to see the doctor at 1 month, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months, and 12 months.
Your baby's doctor will ask that you undress him or her completely so that he or she can examine him or her and place that adorable hunk of baby on the scale. This makes it very important that for the first visit, and the visits following, that parents dress their little one very lightly or in clothing that is easy to take off. For my son's first visit we dressed him in a diaper, onesie and a very fluffy down-feathered overall snuggle. It covered him from head to toe and protected him from the winter weather and was easy to remove. If you have a summer baby dressing and undressing he or she will be even easier.
Don't think that just because this is a pediatrician visit, talk about mom is off the table. Your child's doctor will ask about your delivery and your recovery so far. Did the baby come early? Did you deliver by cesarian? Did you have any complications during pregnancy? Was your birth natural or did the physicians assist? Did you have a hospital birth or home birth? Did your little one have any complications after birth? Were you able to see him or her right away? Things of that nature. So get ready, just a few days after the actual birth you get to recant it all again for your child's doctor.
The talk about you, Mom, does not stop at delivery, the pediatrician will also ask you about your mental state now that your little one is here. How are you feeling? You may even be asked to rate your feelings on a scale of 1 through 10 or very likely to not at all likely. It can be helpful to bring another primary caregiver, such as Dad, with your little one's appointment. With two people in the office, it will be easier to take care of your little one, remember all of the information from the doctor, and recall what questions to ask.
At your little one's first doctors appointment, get ready to be asked the inevitable question that feels impossible to answer. How many wet and soiled diapers does your little one have per day? With all of the excitement and exhaustion of having a new baby, it can be extremely difficult to accurately answer and keep track of the number of diapers your little one is using up each day, but actually, it is really important to keep this tally. Since what goes in must come out, knowing how often your little one is going to the bathroom is a good indicator that he or she is getting the proper nutrients and hydration he or she needs to flourish.
During the first doctor's visit, pediatricians will also inform new parents of the vaccine schedule for most newborns. If you decline to vaccinate your child, that is fine as well. But if you do wish to vaccinate your little one, in addition to the vaccine he or she got at the hospital, she will need a few more in at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and one year. Plus the flu shot if you are into that. The vaccination schedule varies from country to country, but is extremely important to follow should you wish to vaccinate your child because if you don't you may be required to redo a vaccine.
The doctor will ask about your hospital stay, how your baby was in the hospital, and whether or not you encountered any complications. Now that you and your little one are finally home, your child's doctor will also ask about how your family is adjusting to having a baby at home. The pediatrician may ask how many people live in the home, whether or not there are any pets, or if anyone smokes in the house. Do your best to be honest because that will help the pediatrician rule out any illnesses and cater care measures to your baby, specifically.
If you are breastfeeding chances are you will never forget that initial latch, nor that initial engorgement, if you are bottle feeding those late night bottle feeds are never an easy feat, regardless of your particular home situation your child's doctor will ask about your baby's eating habits–if you can even consider barely eating and then screaming like its been seven years since you've been around food a habit. Your pediatrician will also help provide a little guidance on the amount of milk your newborn should be getting as a newborn to help her gain pounds normally, or help with latching tactics if you are breastfeeding. Just speak up.
Your doctor will look at your little one and ask you where he or she sleeps. This is not because those little eyes look tired, it's because your doctor is interested in what sleep patterns your baby already has so that in future visits he or she can look out for signs of healthy sleep development. This will also help parents rule out any potential early mistakes that can make getting sleep even harder. Many parents are choosing to co-sleep, meaning that they sleep in the same room, and sometimes the same bed, as their little one. Your pediatrician can advise you on how to make this safer so your child does not fall to the risk of SIDS.
They say you are what you eat and depending on if your baby is formula fed or breastfed, he or she is bound to be an array of colors and textures – or at least her diapers will be. Your baby's pediatrician will ask about the color and textures of his or her waste just to make sure her digestive system is working properly. It's important to note that formula-fed and breastfed babies produce different waste consistencies. By letting the doctor know about the consistency and color of Baby's waste, he can look into how well your baby is absorbing nutrients.
Are you bathing your baby? Some parents do not. In fact, The World Health organization recommendations delayed newborn bathing, it's also based on medical research. This does not mean parents should wait until his 18th birthday to finally give him a bath, but when babies are born, that white coating called vernix is actually a super protective coating that helps fight bacteria and improve temperature regulation. Some moms wait until they feel good enough to move around to bathe their baby themselves. If it so happens that you decide to wait until the morning of their first appointment to give them a bath, do so. There's no harm in that.
Your baby's pediatrician will check his or her vision and hearing, similar to the test he or she underwent when they were still at the hospital. The doctor will perform a basic vision test just to make sure that your little one's pupils are responding accordingly and that he can hear well enough for his age. As he or she gets older your baby will be able to see more clearly and farther away. He or she will appear more alert and will begin to follow you with his or her eyes. It is important to consistently attend these doctors visits to monitor your baby's development and progression.
After birth, the umbilical cord is clamped and cut and within a day or two it will dry up and after 7 to 14 days will fall off, according to Web MD. At your little one's first doctors visit your doctor will ask how the cord is, whether or not you are bathing the baby and whether or not you have noticed anything abnormal like discharge or a smell coming from the umbilical cord. Tell your doctor immediately if you notice any bleeding beyond the first minute after clamping, redness around the umbilical cord area, or if it feels hot to the touch, as these could be a sign of a serious infection.
If you have a baby boy and have decided to circumcise, the first visit is a time to discuss care for the circumcision and how things are going at home. Regardless if you had a boy or girl, the doctor will check your baby's genitalia to make sure everything is "normal." In up to 4 percent of boys, testicles don't descend into the scrotum before birth, so the doctor will look out for that. In girls, it's not uncommon to find that there's not really an opening on her private area. Over time it should correct itself. As always look out for anything abnormal like swelling, yellow discharge, or trouble urinating.
When you leave the hospital, nurses and doctors will provide you with some paperwork that documents your little one's size, blood type and any test results he or she had while in the hospital. It is important that you bring these documents with you. Also, be prepared to fill out new paperwork at the hospital. Remember to bring your insurance card. The pediatrician may ask you about your own medical history and what medications you were on during pregnancy and how or if they affected the baby. Although it seems like a lot of information do your best to be forthcoming. Providing all the information your doctor asks for will only be helpful to you later on.
Your little one's pediatrician will feel along his or her neckline to feel for a broken collarbone. It is pretty common for some babies to fracture their clavicle while squeezing through the birth canal. Though it is not much to worry about, if your pediatrician finds a small bump, that means a break is starting to heal. It will mend on its own in a few weeks. In the meantime, he may suggest pinning the baby's sleeve across his chest to stabilize his arm so the collarbone doesn't hurt. The doctor will also examine your baby's head. Your baby's head should grow about four inches in the first year, so the doctor will feel for two soft spots on her skull.
Relfex checks are done two ways. The doctor will startle your baby to see if they have a flailing response, which is a good sign. It's called a Moro reflex and should last for her first 3 or 4 months. When something catches your little one off-guard she'll fling her arms out as if she's falling; it's one of a host of involuntary responses that show your baby's developing normally--and if it's not there, it could indicate a neurological problem. He or she will also use a hard medical instrument like a tongue compresser to press against your little one's feet to see if his or her feet curl around it.
Your doctor will roll your little ones hips every visit until she or she can walk. A hip check will test for signs of developmental hip dysplasia, which just means that your baby's hip joints are not forming how they are supposed to–it affects one in every 1,000 babies. "The exam looks completely barbaric," says Vinita Seru, M.D., a pediatrician in Seattle. "I tell families what I'm doing so they don't think I'm trying to hurt the baby." If your pediatrician feels a telltale click from the hips, he'll order an ultrasound. Luckily, when dysplasia is found early, treatment is simple: The baby wears a pelvic harness for a few months.
Your doctor will measure your baby's head all the way around. It should grow a little each visit. By the end of his or her first year, your baby's head should grow about four inches. doctors will look for a still-soft fontanel or soft spots on your baby's head. The two soft spots on her skull are designed to accommodate the growth he or she will need. But if the soft spots close up too quickly, which thankfully does not happen too often, the tight quarters can curb brain development, and your child may need surgery to fix it. So although it may seem a bit weird to witness your doctor palming your baby's head. Let her carry on.
Since babies can't stand we measure their "height" in length. Your child's pediatrician will measure your baby's length at the first and every following visit for his or her first year. On average, babies grow 0.5 to 1 inch (1.5 to 2.5 cm) each month from birth to 6 months. From 6 to 12 months, babies grow an average of 3/8 inch (1 cm) per month. It can be difficult to predict how tall your baby will be later in life based on their length as a baby, but you can imagine that a longer baby will be a taller adult. Once your child reaches toddlerhood, however, you may be able to predict their adult height by doubling a boy’s height at age 2 or doubling a girl’s height at 18 months.
References: Parents Magazine, Alpha Mom, Web MD, Mayo Clinic