Your baby’s doctor wants to help you give your little one the best start in life. To see that your baby’s development is progressing smoothly, the doctor will ask you to bring your baby in for regular checkups.
How often should you take your baby to the doctor?
- The doctor probably will want to see your baby for a checkup sometime shortly after birth.
- Later your doctor probably will want to see your baby at regular intervals throughout her first two years. At many exams your baby will receive immunizations according to a schedule recommended by your doctor’s assessment of your baby.
What does a checkup involve?
In addition to performing a general physical exam, the doctor will take your baby’s growth measurements (head circumference, length, and weight) and check for heart and lung function.
At your baby’s first visit after birth, the doctor will also check:
- the umbilical cord area and, if it applies, the circumcision
- hearing: your baby’s startle response to noise
- vision: eyes that follow movement
- skin tone/color
- newborn reflexes
- stool/urine patterns
- head-to-toe physical exam
At later visits your doctor may want to test your baby’s blood for hemoglobin (to check for anemia) and lead levels. In addition to the physical checks noted earlier, your doctor will also:
- check muscle function and tone
- check your baby’s hearing—noting whether she turns toward and responds to voices speaking at normal volumes
- keep track of certain developmental milestones, including when your baby lifts her head, rolls over from front to back and back to front without assistance, sits up unassisted, grasps a small object her with thumb and fingers, bears some weight on her legs, and coos and babbles in nonsense syllables
- discuss your baby’s sleeping times and positions
- ask about her feedings, including how often your baby eats, whether you’re breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, the number of wet diapers, and the frequency and characteristics of your baby’s bowel movements
- question your baby’s routines, including active times and fussy periods
Jot down any questions about your baby’s health as you think of them and take your list with you to your next doctor appointment.