When your new baby arrives into this world you will want to do everything you can to ensure they are healthy and happy. This is why it is critical for you to stay on top of your well-baby checkups. This is the time a physician will be able to inspect the growth and development of your child to ensure they are on track for their age. Read below to learn more about how you can protect your baby and the proper checkup schedule you should follow.
So, why are these appointments necessary and how often does my newborn need to see a doctor?
Well-baby visits with your baby’s doctor or another pediatric health care provider give you an opportunity to check in regularly to make sure your baby is growing, feeding and developing as she should, and that she’s getting the childhood vaccines she’ll need to prevent life-threatening diseases.
They’ll also give you a welcome chance to get answers to the many questions about your baby (you know, the ones about how long she should sleep, how much she should eat, what you can do about all that crying, how often she should be pooping … and, yes, what color and consistency that poop should be) that you’ve stored up since the last visit.
When will my child’s well-baby visits happen?
Your baby’s first official checkup (and first immunization) will take place at the hospital. After that, well-baby visits are scheduled throughout the first two years at:
The first week (usually a couple of days after you’re discharged from the hospital)
- 1 month
- 2 months
- 4 months
- 6 months
- 9 months
- 12 months
- 15 months
- 18 months
- 24 months
While this schedule follows recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), your baby’s doctor may vary it. It may still sound like a lot of trips to the doctor just for wellness, without even counting those inevitable visits for runny noses and upset tummies. And it is.
Yet well-baby visits are worth it — not only for the reassuring report your baby will likely get each time, but also for the comfort of knowing that your baby’s doctor will be able to spot, treat and usually remedy any little problems before they get bigger. And while no parent looks forward to their infant getting a shot, staying on top of the recommended immunizations is one of the best ways to make certain your baby (and the rest of the children in your community) stays healthy.
What you can expect at well-baby visits
As your baby’s first year progresses, you’ll probably find yourself looking forward to well-baby visits. They’re an opportunity to see just how much your little one has grown and developed — and to get reassurance regarding any concerns (from sleep habits to crying) that have come up since your last visit.
Though every well-baby visit may differ slightly, your doctor (or sometimes a nurse) will do most of the following at each appointment:
Give you a chance to ask the baby-related questions (don’t forget to write them down!) that you’ve had on your mind since the last visit
Ask about how you and baby are doing, and about baby’s feeding, sleeping and development
Measure your baby’s weight, length and head circumference (and plot those measurements on a growth chart to track baby’s progress)
He or she will also complete a physical exam that will check your baby’s:
- Belly, by gently pressing to feel for anything out of the ordinary
- Heartbeat and breathing with a stethoscope
- Hips, legs, arms, back and spine to make sure they’re moving, growing and developing normally
- Ears and nose (with an otoscope)
- Mouth and throat
- Neck and underarms, gently pressing on lymph glands located there
- Fontanelles (the soft spots on the head)
- Genitals for hernias or undescended testicles (and the doctor may also check the femoral pulse in the groin for a strong, steady beat)
- Skin color and tone (and any rashes or birthmarks)
- Reflexes specific to your baby’s age
Before wrapping up your well-baby visit, your doctor or a nurse will administer any scheduled vaccines. Your doctor may leave this step for last so your baby will be as happy and relaxed as possible during the exam — and you’ll be able to concentrate on your conversation with the doctor. Also, with your questions already asked and answered, you’ll be able to focus on comforting your little one after the shot (which can of course cause momentary pain).
Tips on making the most of well-baby visits
Wondering how you’ll manage to wrangle a wriggly newborn while still remembering all the questions you wanted to ask the pediatrician (not to mention the answers you’ll get)? Two words: Come prepared. And follow these tips:
Time it right
It’s not always possible to schedule appointments to avoid nap times, mealtimes and fussy times — especially when your infant doesn’t have anything approximating a predictable routine yet. But if you can and your pediatrician’s office or health care clinic offers flexibility, schedule your visits to the doctor when your little one is likely to be well-rested, well-fed and at his most cheerful (or least cranky).
Also key: Find a time of day when the office is least likely to be packed. Usually offices are the busiest after school or before work, but this varies from office to office, so ask before you book. Scheduling the first appointment of the day or the first after lunch often minimizes your wait time.
Make a checklist
Your insurance card, plenty of diapers, a change of clothes, a burp cloth, a pacifier: Check, check and check. Put your gear in order the night before with a checklist, and getting out the door on time will be much less stressful. Here’s what you’ll want to bring:
- Up-to-date insurance information
- A change of clothes
- Diapers and wipes
- Burp cloths
- A blanket to put over crinkly exam-table paper
- A favorite toy, blanket or comfort object
- A ready-to-serve bottle, if you’re bottle-feeding
- Snacks, if your baby’s on solid foods
- Snacks for you (low blood sugar isn’t sweet when you’re under stress!)
- A nursing cover, if you use one
- A teething ring and/or pacifier (and a spare)
- A list of questions and concerns for the doctor
- A list of baby’s skills so far — plus, for a newborn, a record of sleep, dirty diapers and feedings
- Your baby’s medical history, if you’re visiting a new doctor
Write down your questions
Keep a running list of non-urgent questions and concerns on your phone so you’ll have them ready when the doctor asks, “Any questions or concerns?”
From “how much weight should my baby be gaining?” to “when will she start sleeping through the night?” and “am I burping her right?,” well-baby visits are your chance to get the advice and reassurance you’re craving. And if you’ve run into a breastfeeding roadblock, your pediatrician or a trained lactation consultant in the office or through referral can help you troubleshoot and get back on the road to success.
Supreme Medical Center in Houston
When it comes to getting better fast, the best thing you can do is schedule an appointment with your physician at the first sign of illness. At Supreme Medical Center our doctors work with you to treat your symptoms and get you back to feeling like yourself in no time.