The arrival of a new baby is a time of joy and excitement. The first few months of a baby's life are full of wonderful firsts: the first smile, the first time sleeping through the night, the first time they hold your finger in their palm, and so on. That said, for mothers, the newborn period can also be a stressful and difficult time while you and your family are likely still healing from the experience of giving birth and adjusting to the new addition.
During this precious period, a well-child care exam will allow you and your baby's doctor to discuss any concerns about your baby's health and development. Not only are well-child care exams for newborns a great opportunity to be comforted about your baby's growth and development, but they’re also important since doctors can address any health concerns that might otherwise go undetected.
At Rexburg Pediatrics, our team is here to help you through the ups and downs of the newborn stage and answer questions you might have about feeding, development, and sleeping.
How Frequently Should Your Newborn See the Doctor?
Typically, a baby's first doctor visit takes place when they are no more than a week old, around 1-3 days after being discharged from the hospital. If your baby needs to be checked sooner, the doctor might advise you to see a pediatrician the day after discharge. The timing of your first visit might also be adjusted if you had any birth complications.
After the first visit, your newborn will need to be examined again at two weeks old to ensure proper growth and development. After these initial examinations, infants are seen at two months, four months, six months, nine months, and twelve months to check on their growth, nutrition, and developmental milestones. The doctor may request additional checks in some circumstances.
What Happens at the Well-Child Care Exams?
During a well-child care exam, your baby's doctor will:
- Perform a thorough physical examination
- Examine your baby's eyes and reflexes
- Measure the weight, length, and head measurements of your baby
- Ask questions about your newborn and their eating and sleeping habits, as well as their home environment
Your baby's growth curve will usually be recorded on a growth chart. This can help you and your doctor assess your baby’s growth compared to that of other infants the same age and ensure they are growing normally.
Questions To Expect From Your Baby’s Doctor
Here are some questions you may be asked during a well-child care exam:
- How well does your newborn sleep?
- How are the baby's bowel movements?
- In what position does your newborn sleep?
- When and how often does your baby nurse?
- How many wet diapers does your infant go through?
- Have you observed any issues with your newborn’s vision or hearing?
Your baby's motor skills and growth are also important. Prepare to answer questions from your doctor, such as:
- Is your baby cooing or smiling?
- Is your child grasping for things?
- Is your child imitating your sounds?
- Is your child attempting to turn over?
- Is your baby's head adequately supported?
- Is your infant becoming more interested in sights or sounds?
- Does your infant respond to facial expressions and make them?
During your visit, a sample of your baby's blood will be tested for certain illnesses, typically by pricking the baby's heel. It is critical to detect any conditions early so that treatment can begin immediately. This is why it’s so important not to miss these newborn exams. Skipping these checks and falling behind on your newborn’s schedule might lead to certain health or developmental issues being overlooked and delay necessary medical treatment for your newborn if needed.
What About Vaccines?
Although newborns are born with some natural immunity from their mother against infectious illnesses thanks to infection-preventing antibodies transmitted through the umbilical cord, this immunity is only temporary.
At well-baby checkups, your infant may receive a variety of vaccines, including those to protect against hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, measles, mumps, chickenpox, and other infections. The doctor will teach you how to hold your infant and keep him or her motionless throughout each injection.
Getting Ready for the Appointment
Bring your hospital discharge documents as well as your insurance card to the appointment.
Remember to also bring a change of clothing, diapers, an extra bottle of formula if you are not nursing, a pacifier if your baby requires one, and a blanket to place below your baby while the doctor examines them on the table. Lastly, make sure you dress your newborn in loose-fitting, easily removed clothing, such as a onesie. This will make the vaccine administration process easier.
Visits are also a great opportunity for you to ask any questions you have about your newborn. It’s a good idea to jot down any questions or concerns you have about your new baby and bring them to your appointment.
When Should I Call the Doctor?
If your newborn is not well and you feel concerned about their health, it’s important to call the doctor immediately.
Call your doctor if:
- You're worried about your infant since they're not feeding and aren’t behaving normally
- Your newborn is less than three months old and has a fever of 38°C (101°F) or higher
- Your newborn is between the ages of three and six months and has a temperature of 39°C (102°F) or higher
- Your baby's breathing is quick, throaty, or rough, or if they are panting
- The baby cries incessantly, has a high-pitched or odd cry, or the cry does not sound like their typical cry
- Your infant is off-color (e.g., pale), refusing to nurse if they are under eight weeks old, has green vomit, lethargic, or disorientated
- Your newborn develops diarrhea, vomiting, or indicators of dehydration, such as fewer wet diapers, a dry mouth, or acting very lethargic or drowsy
Schedule a Well-Child Care Exam For Your Newborn
At every age and stage of growth and development, well-child care examinations are the foundation of your child's well-being and development. This is why we highly recommend scheduling these visits with your child's primary care physician as far in advance as possible.
At Rexburg Pediatrics, we’re here to help you take care of your little one. We are dedicated to providing the best possible care for your child and keeping them healthy and happy, right from infancy through adolescence and beyond.
Call us today to schedule a well-child care exam for your baby!