Baby's First Doctor's Appointment: How to Prepare

You've made it through pregnancy, birth, and the first few days of parenting with your sweet new baby! Now that it's time for your baby's first check-up (usually at three to five days old), you're entering a new field of questions, concerns, and observations. 

The Basics

At every appointment, the first thing that will happen is someone will take your baby's vitals and measurements. They will check your baby's weight, length (height), and head circumference to get an idea of where your baby is in their growth. If your baby was born early, this will be taken into consideration. 

Don't be too concerned if your baby's measurements aren't where you expect them to be right away. All babies lose a little bit of weight after birth, and the doctor will consider that as they monitor your baby's growth. They will be able to alert you if there is anything to be concerned about. 

Postpartum Screening

While your baby is the star of their first doctor's appointment, most offices will want to include the mother in the check-up. This makes sense because the baby and mother were one for nine months! And even now that you're separated, the mother's health will still directly impact their baby. 

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This is especially true in regards to mental health. Usually, there will be a quick survey to screen for any postpartum anxiety or depression. If the doctor notices anything concerning, they may offer you some resources such as joining new parent groups or one-on-one counseling. You cannot properly care for your baby if you are not doing well. Be sure to always reach out for help if you feel like something isn't quite right. 

Before The Appointment

  • How much your baby is eating: Keep a general idea of how often your baby is eating and for how long. If your baby is formula feeding, you can keep track of how many ounces your baby eats. (For reference: breastfed babies nurse every 1-3 hours, and formula-fed babies will eat every 2-4 hours.)
  • How well your baby is eating: If your baby is having any difficulty eating due to improper latch, acid reflux, or other issues, this would be a great thing to take note of so it can be addressed at the first appointment. If you are having difficulty breastfeeding, your doctor may refer you to a lactation specialist to help.
  • Counting diapers: Keeping track of how many dirty diapers your baby has and whether or not those diapers have urine or stool can give you a glimpse into whether or not your baby is receiving sufficient nutrients. This can be especially helpful if you are breastfeeding on demand and not completely sure of how often/how long your baby eats. (For reference: Newborns will have about six wet diapers a day with somewhere around three to four bowel movements.) 
  • How much/well your baby is sleeping: Babies' sleep patterns can be unpredictable. What's important in the beginning is that your baby is waking up as needed to eat. (For reference: newborns should not sleep more than 4 hours between feedings until they have regained their birth weight and the doctor has confirmed a healthy growth pattern.) 
  • Follow-up on issues: If your baby has any previously noted issues before, during, or immediately following birth, you will want to bring all of that information with you to the first appointment. Records are not always seamlessly transferred between the hospital and the pediatrician's office, so providing these can help any necessary action happen more smoothly and quickly. 
  • Questions or concerns: Those first few days can be a sleepless blur of excitement and exhaustion. To be sure you don't forget any questions or concerns when you're at the appointment, take some time to write them down as a reference for when you get there. 

The great news is that your baby's doctor is there to help you and your baby stay as safe and healthy as possible. Having a pediatrician you trust is essential in confidently caring for your newborn. Working together, you will figure out everything you need to know one step at a time!


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