By: Laura Nowacki, MD
Your baby will see their pediatrician a lot during their first year of life – and that begins with their very first well-baby visit, just a few days after coming home from the hospital.
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What to Bring
- Insurance card and hospital documents: Gather your baby’s newborn screening results, information about their discharge weight, and notes about any complications during pregnancy or birth.
- A summary of your family’s health history, like any health conditions that run in the family
- Baby supplies like a change of clothes, extra diapers, wipes, pacifiers and feeding supplies
How to Prepare
- Dress your baby in something that’s easy to remove. For part of their exam, they’ll need to be undressed.
- Bring questions. Your doctor has answers! Make a list of anything that’s on your mind. For example: How do I know if my baby is getting enough to eat? What do I do if my baby is sick, and your office is closed?
- Plan to leave at least 15 minutes early. Babies often need a diaper change at the worst possible time. If you build it into your timeline, you won’t be late or stressed.
Topics Your Doctor Will Talk About
- How your baby is sleeping: How much your baby sleeps, how often they wake up to be fed or changed, and whether their crib and sleeping position are safe
- How your baby is feeding: How often your baby is eating, and for how long (if you’re breastfeeding) or how much (if you use formula or a bottle)
- How your baby is peeing and pooping: The consistency and color of your baby’s waste
- What changes and behaviors to expect in the coming months
- How to make sure your home is safe for a growing baby
- How you’re doing: Are you getting sleep? Have you been feeling sad, tearful, hopeless, discouraged or alone?
Test Results and Immunizations to Expect
If your baby was born in Connecticut, they received three newborn screening tests while in the hospital. The doctor will review the results with you, and repeat or do additional tests if needed.
- Bloodspot screen, sometimes called a heel stick: By taking just a few drops of blood from your baby’s heel, this tests for about 70 rare genetic conditions.
- Test to measure the blood’s oxygen level, called a pulse oximetry screen: This checks for serious heart problems.
- Hearing test
If your baby didn’t already receive their hepatitis B vaccine in the hospital nursery, they’ll receive it now too.
What Happens in the Physical Exam
When it’s time for your baby’s physical exam, the doctor will do a head-to-toe check of your baby. That includes:
- Measuring your baby’s body length, weight, and head size
- Taking your baby’s temperature
- Checking the soft spots (fontanel) on your baby’s head
- Checking your baby’s eyes and ears
- Looking at the roof of your baby’s mouth for infection, cleft palate, or other issues
- Checking your baby’s skin for rashes or other conditions
- Feeling your baby’s neck and collarbone for any fractures during delivery
- Using a stethoscope to listen to your baby’s heart and lungs
- Pressing gently on your baby’s belly to feel for any tenderness, enlarged organs or lumps
- Checking your baby’s hips for any problems (including developmental hip dysplasia, a condition that’s easily treated if caught early)
- Checking the umbilical cord to make sure it’s healed properly
- Checking your baby’s genitalia to make sure everything is healthy, including descended testes and, for babies who have been circumcised, that the penis is healed properly
- Check reflexes, like the startle response called a Moro reflex
What Happens Next
- Your baby’s doctor will probably want to schedule additional well-baby exams – every few weeks for awhile, then every few months – until your child celebrates their 1st birthday.
- They’ll also talk to you about your baby’s immunization schedule.
You’ve completed your baby’s first check-up! This is a big step for the littlest member of your family.