Newborn Doctor Visits: The New Parent’s Guide
Little Yawn Collective - Dec 02, 2021
During mom’s pregnancy, there were frequent doctor’s visits to ensure that your baby was developing as expected in the womb. This trend continues after your baby is born and well into their toddler years.
You are going to be visiting the pediatrician a lot in the next year because, in your baby’s first year of life, they grow at an impressive pace! It really is no joke when parents of older children say, “Don’t blink!”
Although all babies have different weights and lengths at their birth, their growth tends to be pretty predictable across the board. By the time your baby is five months, they will have doubled their birth weight, and by the time they are a year old, they will have tripled their birth weight!
Their increase in height is just as notable, with average growth being over an inch a month for the first three months of life. This average tends to get a little smaller past the three-month milestone, but they are still growing rapidly.
Your baby undergoes vast changes in their first year and will need to be checked throughout these stages to make sure they are developing physically, mentally, and emotionally on track.
Use this guide to help you navigate through all the doctor’s visits as your newborn proceeds into its first year of life.
Birth & First Days
When your baby is born, the pediatrician will prick their heel to conduct a blood test to check for any conditions that could not be detected in the womb. The test detects any metabolic, hemoglobin, and hormone problems.
Some of these disorders will require treatment right away, including using medicines, special formulas, and diets as they get older. Genetics may have played a part in these disorders, so doctors can further determine if any additional children would be affected by running genetic tests on the parents.
After your baby has the blood test done, rest easy. You've got your pediatrician by your side.
Hearing tests are usually conducted before the baby leaves the hospital. If they are not conducted at the hospital, expect them to be done at the first pediatrician’s appointment.
Early detection of hearing loss is essential, as the earlier treatment can begin, the more successful it will be.
Testing and Records
During the hearing test, the audiologist will look for cues from the baby indicating that they can hear. Your baby may turn their head towards the sound or avert their eyes. Additional tests can be conducted that rely on reflexes that the ears make, as well as tests that measure the brain’s responses to sounds. Your baby will typically be given a light sedative for these tests so they remain comfortable.
Their next visit will occur three to five days after birth. Your child’s measurements will be taken and recorded on a growth chart that will determine if your child is physically on the mark as they get older.
Next will be a physical exam which includes checking your child’s eyes, heart, joints, and umbilical cord stump to make sure it is healing correctly. Hearing tests may be conducted at this appointment if they weren’t at the hospital.
At this appointment, the pediatrician or nurse will discuss their sleeping, feeding, and bathroom habits in the first few days of life and what to expect in their first month. They will also discuss an immunization schedule with you, as the schedule may vary from state to state and even office-to-office.
Some vaccinations can be given all at once to reduce the number of pricks! If you have any questions or concerns, this appointment is the best time to ask, especially if you are a new parent.
The first month probably flew by, and you’re wondering how it can already be your baby’s first-month appointment? This appointment will resemble the previous, with your baby’s measurements being taken, as well as another physical exam.
The results from the blood test that was taken when they were born should be back. If necessary, these tests may need to be repeated if any issues were detected.
Depending on the vaccine schedule you are following, your baby will likely receive a vaccination(s). The pediatrician may also discuss what you should see developmentally in your baby during this first month of life. This may include the newborn reflexes, like rooting and sucking, which help with breastfeeding and bottle feeding.
Another reflex to look out for is the Moro reflex, in which babies will quickly throw their arms and legs out when they hear a loud noise that startles them. The pediatrician may encourage swaddling to prevent your baby from waking themselves up when this occurs.
Second Month Appointment
Again, measurements will be taken, and a physical exam will be conducted. Your pediatrician will ask about their sleeping, feeding, and bathroom habits. At this point, it is normal for your child to have more extended periods of being awake during the daytime and sleeping at night.
Developmentally, your baby should be able to recognize faces and voices. The sweet smile begins to emerge, and they can lift their head during tummy time. There will be vaccines to give and crying to soothe as this may not be a fun visit for your little one.
Also, at this appointment, parents may be screened for postpartum depression. It is important for parents, especially mothers, to receive all the support they can get, as their body has gone through a momentous occasion growing and bringing a new life into the world!
Be sure to discuss any mood changes both parents may be experiencing, as this can be a trying time for parents as they learn this new life caring for their little one.
Fourth Month Appointment
Your baby’s growth will be measured and checked to ensure they are following their growth chart. Another physical exam will be given to ensure all is going well. Your pediatrician will likely have questions about your baby’s sleeping habits as many babies do start to sleep through the night at this stage in development (cue the cheering!).
If your baby is having a little trouble falling and staying asleep, there are several methods of helping your baby get comfortable. This may include taking a warm bath, playing a white noise machine, or spritzing a Relaxing Pillow & Linen Spray on your child’s sheets or in their room to help foster a more sleepy environment.
Your baby may also be starting to roll over on their backs during tummy time. Their necks will also become strong enough to hold up their head for a few moments at a time while on their stomachs and when being held by another person.
Your baby will likely have vaccines administered (hopefully no tears from your little buddy or you!), and you can make your baby’s sixth-month appointment.
Oh, how can it be six months already? Your little buddy is growing up before your very eyes and may be well on to having a toothy grin by the end of the year. In addition to measurements and physical exams, the pediatrician will start to look for any signs of extra drooling and tender gums.
Of course, your baby may already have started teething or may still have a few more months until a little white tooth pops up. This is all incredibly normal, and babies do tend to follow their own schedule.
At this age, your pediatrician may recommend that you start to introduce solid foods.
Developmentally, your baby may be trying to put everything in their mouth, playing with their toes, and may even be sitting up on their own. The smiles and laughter have turned into baby talk and babbling as they are starting to mimic the sounds that you make.
If they are babbling, they may very well be on their way to saying their first words soon! Another round of vaccines, and you’re on your way. The next appointment will be in three months.
Ninth Month Appointment
This may be a special milestone for moms, as your baby has now been out in the world just as long as they were in the womb. Of course, you know that measurements will be taken and a physical exam. The pediatrician may have questions about their sleeping habits, as it is normal for your baby to have sleep regression.
Your baby is starting to communicate!
They may be saying their first words and can point at objects. You can tell that they know their name by their reaction when you say it and may be copying your actions. Your baby is on the move too, as they may be crawling and starting to pull themselves up to stand, with a table (or you!) to support them.
These can be fun days watching your child communicate and move! On many vaccine schedules, the ninth-month appointment doesn’t call for any vaccines. Another fun day! Your baby’s next appointment will be a significant milestone -- one year!
Twelfth Month Appointment
It seems like yesterday you brought your baby home from the hospital, and today they are going to their twelfth-month appointment! You know the drill with measurements and physical exams.
At this particular appointment, your baby’s finger will get a quick prick to check for hemoglobin levels and detect any lead in their blood. Your baby will also receive vaccinations and have their teeth checked out if they are sporting a toothy grin.
The pediatrician will discuss developmental milestones with you (or hopefully, your baby will show them off!). Those milestones include standing, interacting with toys by banging them together, working on motor skills (feeding, manipulating objects), and communicating through the use of a few words.
If your baby hasn’t marked one of these milestones, it’s completely normal, and the pediatrician will discuss when you may witness your baby doing these things. As your child goes from baby to toddler, be sure to ask any questions you may have about nutrition, sleeping, and other behaviors.
After this first year, your baby will certainly have more appointments to check in on their growth status and developmental milestones, as well as vaccines. Now that your baby is one, their appointments will be spaced further apart unless you need to see the pediatrician for illnesses.
It is important to note that for babies that were born early, their developmental milestones may be behind other babies their age. Many pediatricians will calculate from their due date instead of when they were actually born.
For example, a baby born two months early may not hit developmental milestones typically experienced by four-month-olds until they are six months old. This developmental gap tends to even out once babies reach their toddler years.
As you go through this first year of life, you’ve learned a great deal as a new parent. You may now feel experienced enough to impart wisdom on those wide-eyed new parents.
From nights of no sleep to feeling the rush of joy when your baby says their first words, you have numerous people to support you.
From family, friends, pediatricians, and your pals at Little Yawn Collective--we want the best for your baby and you!
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