Are you wondering what will happen at your newborn baby’s first pediatrician appointment? You’re not alone!
Many new parents will meet and interview pediatric healthcare providers while they’re pregnant so that they have someone lined up for when the baby is born. If you haven’t chosen one yet, then this article with some great tips can help!
Once you have your child’s primary care practitioner lined up it’s time to learn what will happen at the newborn first check-up.
The newborn check-up is one of my favorite well-child visits, both as a mother and as a pediatric health care practitioner.
As a mother, I look forward to that first visit where my child’s physician is able to begin developing their relationship with my child. I like reviewing how my child is doing in regards to their growth and development.
As a pediatric healthcare provider I enjoy meeting families! I also appreciate being able to establish a baseline for the child’s health status.
When To Schedule First Pediatrician Visit
Now that your baby has been born you will begin building a relationship with their primary care provider.
If you delivered in the hospital then the first physical assessment will be completed in the hospital. If you delivered outside of a hospital you will need to make arrangements for the first physical assessment.
Whether your baby was born in a hospital or in another setting, you will want to call their healthcare provider’s office the very next business day.
Most newborn check-ups will take place when the baby is between three to five days old.
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Newborn Check-Up Schedule
In the United States, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) provides guidelines for how frequently a new baby visits their healthcare provider.
Per the AAP guidelines, babies will visit their primary care provider up to eight times their first year of life.
The frequency of these check-ups helps your child’s healthcare provider monitor how your child is growing and developing.
Newborn First Visit Questions
I advise parents to come to their newborn first check-up with a list of questions ready. It’s best to write these questions down so that you don’t leave and realize that you didn’t ask the one question you really wanted to be answered.
What To Expect During your newborn baby’s first check-up
Your newborn’s first check-up will include paperwork that you will need to fill out, questions to you, an opportunity to ask your questions, a physical exam on your baby, and guidance information for you.
Family and Birth History
The provider’s office will ask you fill out forms that include questions about your baby’s family history, your pregnancy, and the birth.
When filling out a family history you will be asked to answer questions as they relate to the baby’s immediate family and grandparents. This will include questions about any chronic illness that any family member has been diagnosed with.
Questions about your Pregnancy
Some conditions which may happen during pregnancy can have an effect on your newborn. Your child’s healthcare provider will ask if you experienced any of these conditions during your pregnancy. They may also ask other questions, that are related to your pregnancy.
Information about the delivery and birth
Your child’s primary care provider will want to know if you had any complications during the labor and/or delivery. They will want to know whether the baby was born vaginally or by cesarean section. They will want to know the baby’s birth statistics, such as their length, weight, and head circumference at birth. If you know the baby’s Apgar scores, they will want that information as well.
Many primary care provider offices have relationships with local hospitals, birth centers, and midwives to have this information sent to them electronically. However, it is a good idea to know this information yourself, as records are often delayed and do not arrive until after you take your baby to their first check-up.
Social History Questions
The social history includes questions about your living arrangements, including who lives in the home with your baby. It also includes whether you have any pets in the home as well.
Postpartum Depression Screening
Many pediatric primary care providers will conduct a postpartum depression screen on the mother. This may be completed at either the first newborn check-up or at the second visit, which is usually when the baby is 2-4 weeks old.
However, if for any reason your child’s healthcare provider does not screen you and you have any concerns, then it’s important that you bring them up with the provider. You should also call and make an appointment with your own healthcare provider as well, if you are concerned.
The provider will ask questions about your child’s development at each of their well child check-ups.
These questions help the provider to understand where on the developmental spectrum your child is.
At a newborn visit the provider will want to know how often your baby is eating, how many wet diapers they have in a 24 hour period, and how many dirty diapers they have in a 24 hour period.
They will also ask what the baby is eating, whether they are exclusively breastfed, formula feeding, or doing both.
Side Note: If you are breastfeeding (or planning to) then you will want to take this course! It’s the BEST online breastfeeding course available. If you’ll be pumping, she also has a “back to work pumping” class and a class just for those that are planning to exclusively pump! You can’t go wrong with any of these classes!
The provider will want to know about your baby’s sleep patterns and if they have periods of being awake.
They will ask how the baby responds when they are awake. The provider will want to know if your baby looks into your eyes and are they calm when being held.
Your baby’s healthcare provider will also ask about your baby’s motor development. If the baby’s arms and legs move symmetrically when they are startled and if the baby keeps their hands in a fist.
These questions help your child’s healthcare provider understand how your baby is doing.
Concerns About Your Baby
Your child’s healthcare practitioner will review your baby with you and ask if you have any questions or concerns. This is called the Review of Systems.
During the review of systems you will be asked if you have any concerns about your child’s head, eyes, ears, nose, breathing, stomach, genitals, rectum, skin, or development.
You can anticipate your child’s healthcare provider completing a review of systems in regards to your child at every well child check.
The Physical Exam
After the histories and review of systems have been done your baby will be examined.
The physical exam begins with measurements which are plotted on a growth chart. The charts used across the United States are the World Health Organization (WHO) growth charts.
The length is measured with your baby lying down a flat surface. The weight is taken on a special baby scale. It is important to note that an infant is weighed without anything on, including a diaper.
The head circumference is measured as well.
All three of those measurements, along with with the weight-for-length measurement are plotted on a growth chart.
The skin will be looked over. The healthcare provider is looking at the color while inspecting for any signs of jaundice, rashes, and birthmarks.
The shape and size of the head will be noted. Your child’s provider will use their hands to palpate the scalp checking for any signs of birth trauma and to assess the fontanels.
The fontanels are commonly called soft spots. Newborn babies have two soft spots on their heads.
Your baby’s eyes will be looked at with a special tool called an ophthalmoscope. With this tool the provider is able to examine the pupil.
The provider will inspect your baby’s eyes and eyelids. They will also check that your baby is seeing as is expected by checking how well they fix their eyes on an object and follow it.
The heart will be listened to using a stethoscope.
The provider will also check the pulses in the groin area, underneath your baby’s diaper.
Your child’s healthcare practitioner will check your baby’s umbilical cord to see how it is healing. They will use their hands to feel the baby’s stomach and check that everything feels normal.
The diaper will be removed so that the provider can examine your baby’s genitalia. They will check that the testicles are descended in male babies and inspect the external genitalia of female babies.
Your child’s provider will move their legs using special maneuvers to check for hip dysplasia. They will also examine the baby’s spine.
The neurologic system is assessed by noting the alertness, tone, posture, and activity level of your baby. Additionally, your baby’s health care provider will observe your child’s movements and reflexes.
Questions and Advice at the Newborn Check-Up
Once the physical exam portion of the check-up is complete your child’s provider will likely offer for you to ask any additional questions.
The practitioner will also take this opportunity to review health, growth, development, and safety items that are specific to your child. Additionally, your child’s healthcare provider will provide thorough information on protecting your newborn from germs.
Health, growth, and development topics that will be discussed may include frequency of feedings, anticipated number of wet and dirty diapers, and information regarding tummy time.
Additional health, growth, and development topics will be brought up. This includes teaching of normal discharge or bleeding that may occur in newborn baby girls.
Your child’s healthcare provider will likely also discuss bathing the baby. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the newborn bath, this would be a good time to go over the procedure with your child’s healthcare provider.
Safety items discussed will include safe sleep arrangements and car seat safety.
Benefits of Well Child Check-Ups
Following a regular schedule of check-ups for your child provides multiple benefits.
Benefits of following the AAP schedule includes the opportunity for both you and your provider to accurately track your child’s growth and development. It also provides you with more chances for you to ask questions or bring up concerns to your chid’s health care provider.
Routine visits allow both you and your child to develop a relationship with your child’s primary care provider.
This article can be used to help you understand what will happen at your newborn’s first check-up.