By: Shelli Samson, NI, Penfield Children’s Center
Around 3-5 days after your baby comes home from the hospital, the pediatrician will request the first well baby check-up. This appointment can usually be scheduled while still in the hospital after giving birth. The purpose of this appointment is to make sure your baby is on-track developmentally, and answer any questions you have. These well baby check-ups will continue throughout your little one’s first year of life and will occur at the age of 1 month, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months, 12 months, and every year from there.
What will the doctor check?
First, a nurse or medical assistant will check your baby’s weight and length and will ask questions about your little one’s sleeping and eating patterns, and the amount of diapers changed per day.
Your baby’s pediatrician will then come in and assess his neck and collarbone for any bumps, as babies can fracture their collarbone when passing through the birth canal. If he/she does find one, it is likely that your baby fractured his collarbone during the birthing process. The fracture will heal on its own, however, it takes time. The pediatrician will provide helpful tips to speed up the process.
Next, the pediatrician will feel your baby’s head. He/she will check your baby’s posterior and anterior fontanels, which are the two soft spots located on top of the head, and in the back of the head. The fontanels act as a mold for the baby’s head to grow. It is important the fontanels do not close up too early because your baby’s head will grow about 4 inches in the first year, and these spots allow proper growth to take place. Typically, the posterior fontanel will close around 2-3 months of age, and the anterior fontanel will close between 12-18 months of age.
The pediatrician will then roll your baby’s hips to check for any dysplasia. If he/she suspects this to be the case, an ultrasound will be ordered. The ultrasound will deny or confirm the presence of dysplasia. If dysplasia is present, your baby will need to wear a pelvic harness for a couple months to correct the condition. If found early, treatment is very simple.
From there, the pediatrician will check your baby’s reflexes, genitalia, and pulses. The first check-up is very important because it allows you as a new parent to ask questions, learn about child development, and address any concerns that have arisen after taking baby home from the hospital.
How can you make the first check-up as easy as possible for your baby?
- Prepare ahead of time. Pack a diaper bag full of diapers, wipes, an extra change of clothes, formula and a bottle (if formula fed) and items that help soothe your baby, such as pacifiers or a special blanket. A well-packed bag will help you feel prepared for anything your child needs outside of the home.
- Bring a list of questions. It can be difficult to think of questions in the moment. Try to prepare a list ahead of time so that you ask everything that’s on your mind. It can also be helpful to write down any family conditions, such as allergies that might be useful for your child’s pediatrician to know so that he/she can watch for signs of these conditions in your baby.
- Relax. You’re in good hands! Try to come with a cheerful disposition and show baby from the start that going to the doctor is not something to worry about.
Before you leave, if you haven’t already, make sure to write down the office number in case you need to call the nurse’s line for a future concern.
What steps did you take to prepare for your baby’s first visit to the doctor?