By the time your due date arrives, you’ve become a pro at prenatal doctor’s visits. And while labor and delivery marks the end of your nearly constant prenatal check ups, now it’s baby’s turn to frequent the pediatrician for numerous check ups! Between “well baby” visits and “sick appointments,” it can feel like you are always in the doctor’s office with your little one. You will become an expert in no time, but to get you started, here’s how you can best prepare for your baby’s first pediatrician appointment!
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To help you sort through these numerous appointments, and all the things your MD will be assessing baby for, we’ve created this thorough article. So, read on to learn more about baby’s first pediatrician appointments that your baby will experience from birth until they’re 3 months old:
Preparing for Baby’s Arrival
Even before baby’s born, you’ll be making arrangements for their health and well-being. You’ll be looking for a pediatrician that works best for your family’s lifestyle. Consider location to and from home, work, or daycare. Also consider the MD’s hours, practices, and policies.
At this stage, it’s also important to know if your pediatrician has the ability to visit baby while they’re still in hospital, or if they’ll first be meeting your newborn in their office after discharge. While it’s not at all vital to select a pediatrician that has “rights” at the hospital or birth center where you are delivering, it is something you’ll be asked when you arrive in Labor & Delivery. This way they can properly plan for your baby’s medical care during your stay. And if your pediatrician does make rounds at the hospital, baby won’t be seen by the staff pediatrician and vice versa.
It’s important to know that while in the hospital your baby will receive a lot of monitoring to make sure they are healthy and transitioning well to life outside the womb.
Baby’s First Pediatrician Appointment – In the Doctor’s Office
Your baby will get lots of monitoring in the hospital by the nurses and pediatrician to make sure they are ready to go home. Once baby is discharged from the hospital, you’ll need to go back and check in with his/her pediatrician within 2 – 4 days after coming home. If your doctor was able to see baby while in the hospital, this won’t be the first time baby is seeing his MD. But if not, this will be their first meeting. If it is the first meeting, the hospital should have sent over baby’s medical records to the office in advance.
Before we dive into what to expect, let’s review a few pro tips to ensure this visit goes smoothly:
1. LEAVE EXTRA TIME / DON’T BE RUSHED
Trying to get out of the house with a newborn can take a long time! You are still new to diapering, feeding, and dressing baby. Trying to do all of these activities at once can take an hour or more.
- Often times baby isn’t on a schedule or can be unpredictable. Like needing an emergency diaper change the minute you get him strapped into the car seat. Or thinking you are finally ready to be on your way, when suddenly they start crying.
- Instead of worrying, plan to leave yourself plenty of time to get ready and make it to the doctors office.
- A late morning or early afternoon appointment can help take the pressure off getting out of the house early in the morning with baby.
2. DON’T GO ALONE TO BABY’S FIRST PEDIATRICIAN APPOINTMENT
Have your partner, family member, or friend come with you. You’ll appreciate the extra set of hands. Plus, many women with stitches (either from a C-section or vaginal delivery) might not be allowed to drive in the first week or two after giving birth.
- Another benefit to having someone go with you is a backup set of ears (and mind) to ensure all your questions are answered and you understand everything the pediatrician has told you during the visit.
3. DON’T SPEND TOO MUCH TIME IN THE DOCTOR’S WAITING AREA
Often, sick children are in the same waiting area. They are breathing the same air and playing with the same toys as the children that are in for their well visits. When baby is so young and their immune system still new, it’s best not to spend any extra time around those germs. If you arrive at the office really early, just spend some time relaxing out in your car instead of in the waiting area.
4. BE PREPARED FOR THE PEDIATRICIAN APPOINTMENT
Especially during your first few visits, baby’s pediatrician will want to know a lot about baby’s eating and pooping habits.
- Keep track of all dirty diapers (wet and poopy) as well as baby’s feedings.
- For feedings – noting when baby eats in addition to the amount (in ounces for formula or pumped breast milk) or duration (e.g., 10 minutes right breast, 5 minutes left breast) are helpful.
5. TALK TO YOUR PEDIATRICIAN ABOUT YOU
Don’t be afraid to share with your pediatrician anything about yourself as it might relate to baby. For example, if you have cracked or bleeding nipples, it might affecting baby’s feeding or require a lactation consultation. Something your pediatrician is capable of helping you with!
6. DON’T FORGET TO MEET THE REST OF THE PEDIATRIC STAFF
Whether it’s the receptionist, the nurse, or another pediatrician in the practice; meeting the whole team helping to keep your baby healthy can be a huge asset for new parents. Everyone in the doctor’s office plays a role and can help you out if the doctor is busy. Or if you have an urgent question crop up while at home, they might be able to help. Relying on these supports can mean the difference between a great experience with your pediatrician, and slipping through the cracks.
Now that we’ve reviewed how to make the most of your partnership with the pediatrician, let’s review some of the specifics you can expect during some of baby’s first visits.
BABY’S FIRST Pediatrician APPOINTMENT
Usually occurring 2 – 4 days after discharge from the hospital, you can expect the doctor to:
- Check baby’s vital signs including heart rate, breathing, and temperature.
- Check weight
- Confirm other measurements – height, head circumference, etc
- MD to ask about baby’s diapers
- Check on how baby is feeding
- Check bilirubin levels
- Newborn Screen (if not done in hospital)
- Hepatitis B vaccination (if not done in hospital)
1 MONTH PEDIATRICIAN WELL-CHILD VISIT
As the name implies, baby will need to see their pediatrician for a checkup around 1 months old mark. At this visit you can expect:
- Check vital signs – heart rate, breathing, and temperature
- Check baby’s growth – measuring height and weight
- Assessing any lingering feedings or diaper related concerns or issues
- Milestones – baby’s development is tracked by important physical, cognitive, emotional and language related milestones. For more information about milestones, please see our 2 part blog series here and here
- 2nd hepatitis B vaccination
- Tuberculosis test (if MD requires) – just like for adults, baby will be injected with an inactivated serum and you’ll need to monitor their skin for any bumps or swelling which could indicate a positive test requiring immediate follow up by your doctor.
2 MONTH PEDIATRICIAN WELL-CHILD VISIT
In addition to checking baby’s vital signs (heart rate, breathing, temperature), growth (height and weight), and milestones, this well visit at 2 month of age has the doctor administering several vaccinations. Fortunately, some of these can be administered together limiting the number of injections your baby needs to get. The vaccines you can expect to be administered include:
- 2nd hepatitis B vaccine (if not done at 1 month)
- Rotovirus: a common virus that affects the digestive tract causing nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis (DTaP): 3 different severe illnesses in a single vaccine. For more information visit the CDC’s vaccination information page here.
- Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib): a serious bacteria disease that can lead to bacterial meningitis or a swelling and infection of the fluid surround the brain and spinal cord.
- Pneumococcal (PCV): prevents 13 different types of bacteria that cause pneumonia.
- Inactivated Polio (IPV): a crippling infection that can cause irreversible damage to the brain and spinal cord causing paralysis.
SICK VISITS – WHEN TO CALL YOUR BABY’S DOCTOR
While the above is a good reference for well baby visits and checkups, there will be times during your babies first months where you may need to go to the doctor because something is wrong. While we’ve covered many of these topics in other articles, check out our Answers for All of Your Common Newborn Concerns for more info.
For more on this topic, check out the full Baby’s First Year collection
Featured Contributor: Tranquilo Mat
Tranquilo Mat is the only portable soothing sleep aid that helps babies fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Invented by a nurse, mom approved, and baby loved. To learn more visit www.tranquilomat.com. As Seen on Shark Tank!
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