After months and months of OB appointments, being poked and prodded, weighed and measured, checked and double-checked, it is no longer about you. Not that your physical health and well-being are not important, but you will find most of your doctor appointments start to revolve around that little bundle of joy you brought home from the hospital. Routine checkups, also called well-baby appointments, are a great way to track your baby’s development progress and ensure everything is moving along as it should. For this reason, you want to have a doctor or pediatrician that you like and trust so that he or she can provide you with that continuity of care, as well as getting to know you and your baby.
So, when are these baby check-ups supposed to happen and what should you expect? We’ve got the 4-1-1 for you!
It may seem like your little one sees the doctor rather frequently, but remember your baby is changing and growing so much with every week, and there is a lot to chart, monitor and observe! Your baby will most likely have his first appointment within a week after delivery, usually at 3-5 days old. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, you want to follow a schedule of 1 month, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 and then 12 months old. After a year, your baby should have a 15, 18, 24, 30 and 36 month appointment. At age 3, the appointments move to annual visits. That may sound like a lot, but as a mom, you will love to see each inch, ounce and milestone that your baby gains!
So what happens?
Here’s a little information about what the pediatrician and nurse will be doing:
- At each appointment, the doctor or nurse will measure your baby’s height, weight and head circumference so that they can chart your child’s growth.
- Check eyes and ears, including your child’s ability to respond to sound and lights.
- Examine the shape of the head and skull, including bones and the fontanels (those soft spots that allow your baby’s brain to grow and develop).
- Listen to your little one’s heart and lungs; determine if there are any irregularities, murmurs or breathing problems.
- Press on the stomach, checking for hernias, tenderness or issues with any of the organs.
- Inspect skin and complexion for any birthmarks, rashes or other skin conditions.
- Move hips and legs to make sure all the joints are moving properly.
- Examine baby’s genitalia for tenderness, infection or in the case of circumcision, healing.
- Check your child’s reflexes, looking for what is developmentally appropriate.
You may be thinking you need a doctor’s appointment after hearing about all this poking and prodding, but it is all part of a basic, thorough exam and it typically goes smoothly and quickly. The pediatrician also will ask questions about eating and diaper habits, sleeping, sitting, standing, reaching, tummy time and other age-appropriate developments. Keep in mind that each child is different and while there are expected ranges when developments happen, you and your doctor can discuss what is normal for your child.
Vaccinations are also a part of most well baby checkups as they help with disease and illness prevention. Your doctor or nurse should update you on what is needed, why and any side effects to expect. They will also let you know how to hold or position your child during the vaccine. While never pleasant, vaccines are quick and Baby will typically handle them better than Mom does!
Q & A:
A well-baby check-up might also include some questions from the doctor about family health history, how things are at home and your physical and mental health which is very important to your child. This is also an opportunity for you to ask questions – so take advantage of this opportunity! In fact, it’s a good idea to write your questions down when you think of them and bring your list to the appointment. Your doctor should be able to answer everything for you, as well as give pertinent safety tips and advice regarding car seats, cribs, baby proofing and more. If it’s on your mind, bring it up while you’re there – it’s so much easier than having to play phone tag!
During your child’s early years, you will probably get very comfortable with his pediatrician’s or doctor’s office, and that is perfectly fine. It may seem like a lot but it’s important to stay current with your child’s health, and you are an equal partner in this with your child’s doctor. So before you leave that baby check-up, make sure you schedule the next appointment – you know, it’s right around the corner!
American Academy of Pediatrics. (2018, October 16). AAP Schedule of Well-Child Care Visits. Retrieved from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/health-management/Pages/Well-Child-Care-A-Check-Up-for-Success.aspx
Mayo Clinic. (2018, May 19). Well baby exam: What to expect during routine check-ups. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/healthy-baby/art-20044767
Stern, L. (n.d). Well-Baby Visits for your Baby. Retrieved from https://www.parents.com/baby/care/pediatricians-medicine/well-baby-visits-for-your-baby/