1. Introduction

Going to the doctor for the first time may seem like just another task to add to the newborn care checklist, but your newborn doctor visit is an opportunity to meet the person who will help guide you through all the early health-related milestones of your baby’s development. These early visits are about more than just vaccinations; they’re also your chance to receive important information about newborn and infant care and sign up for illnesses and progress reports throughout your child’s formative years. Attend to the most urgent items on the to-do list now, and then do lots of bonding at home with your new family. After all, there are only so many days in that precious newborn window.

So, you’ve made it through delivery, and you’re finally home with your baby. Congratulations! Now that you’ve said goodbye to the hospital, it’s time to make an appointment with the pediatrician. Those first few times your newborn doctor visit are not all that different from the whirlwind of appointments you may have had during pregnancy. They can take hours and require lots of paperwork and possibly more than one different office visit. And with not a lot of sleep, you may spend the entire time worrying about what’s on the horizon. That’s why we’ve compiled this comprehensive guide to make this essential — if somewhat exhausting — process as smooth as possible so that you have the time to connect with your baby, not with the medical office.

1.1. Purpose of the Guide

Running a practice that requires frequent visits from newborns is a balancing act for a pediatrician. Not only are they checking the baby’s weight gain and growth progress, they are also advising and addressing any general health and feeding concerns, ensuring all immunizations are up to date, and providing the millions of instructions new parents crave regarding their new family member. Pediatricians are certainly busy—and have no guarantee of making even a minimal income. That’s right, but of business to the job.

You may have heard that newborns end up seeing a doctor early and often. That’s because babies change quickly during the first month of life. Some of these changes can be a little worrisome. That’s why your baby’s pediatrician is going to want to keep a close eye on one vital sign: weight. Knowing what to expect at your baby’s doctor visits can make some of these new experiences less stressful. They’re very focused on the health and well-being of the most precious patients: your baby. The information gathered during those visits helps to provide a safe and solid start to a long, healthy life.

2. Importance of Newborn Doctor Visits

Pediatricians are not just looking out for your newborn but for the health of parents as well. These appointments may be the first opportunity new parents have to ask questions and talk about their worries. It’s not always easy to find the time in those first few weeks with a new baby to make calls, so making the appointments before the baby is born can help ease everyone’s stress. Knowing when to expect the next visit also helps to keep the baby’s health on track because before you know it, the newborn will be growing and changing so quickly, you’ll wish time would slow down.

First-time parents might wonder why so many doctor visits are scheduled when all the baby seems to do is sleep, eat, or cry. After all, they may feel they are doing a fine job and the baby is growing. But newborn checkups are important to make sure that the baby is on the right track, getting the best care, and to answer any questions parents may have. The good news is that it won’t take much time; the appointments tend to be brief unless health questions crop up. Parents can expect to leave sunken-eyed but reassured.

2.1. Ensuring Baby’s Health and Development

These assessments are important because they will confirm for you that baby is growing and getting good nourishment, which are good things for parents to know. Keep in mind that not only will baby’s first check-ups be supervised to make sure baby is doing what he needs to, and getting the right nutrients from mom and the right percentiles of growth measurements. These visits also give you an excellent opportunity to discuss any “new parent” concerns you might have. You need fresh parenting advice and information, so simply write down anything on your mind, or ask the experienced medical staff to advise you on any health or “behavior” changes going on with tiny baby.

Now that you have a baby to take to the doctor, it can be a good thing to make sure he has plenty of office hours. Because seeing your doctor is one of the best things you can do for your new baby’s health and development. Right now, baby will get a lot of assessments to make sure everything is going as it should – from height and weight checks, to head measurements. The doctor will assess baby’s 5 different “vitals,” remember by using the acronym “HAELS” which stands for: Height (length), Appetite, Eliminations, Length of sleep, and the baby’s Skin tone and skin softness.

3. Choosing a Pediatrician

Go ahead and ask around for word-of-mouth referrals from friends and family members. It kind of helps if these people have had kids themselves or just like kids. You could also consult online sites for physician ratings and your insurance company to find in-network providers. Once you have a list of prospects, find out more about them. Do you prefer a man or woman? A small private office or a large group practice? Is location important for emergencies, or can you travel further for top-notch care? And incumbent parents, what say you? What might you have liked to know going in?

Your search for a pediatrician should start well before your baby is born. You don’t need to have a pediatrician at the ready when the baby’s born – you’re in the hospital, after all – but resting assured that you have someone in place can be a good thing. If you don’t, it’s not the end of the world. In-hospital pediatricians tend to be stellar. And if you’re joining a hospital tour ahead of time, it’s a good chance to ask questions and get a sense of their healthcare philosophy. Then, let the office know that your soon-to-arrive bambino needs a doctor. The staff will tell you whether they’re accepting new patients and will provide insurance and hospital information, which you’ll need to file a proof-of-birth certificate before they even consider discharging you and your baby.

Welcome to parenthood! You’re about to embark on one of the toughest jobs you’ll ever love. A pediatrician can help ease the transition. But that leaves some of the “tough” part to you – picking someone you trust to take care of your child’s health! Here’s how.

3.1. Factors to Consider

It would be ideal that the pediatrician is willing to listen to whatever it is the parents would like to impart, more so, to address questions and concerns about the health and growth of the newborn. Pediatrics is a partnership between parents and the pediatrician.

Experience is crucial, especially on the part of first-time parents so they can be given a fair chance on what to expect when the baby comes into the picture. Knowing how experienced the doctor is can give you a clearer picture of his care and treatment.

Research on the professional background of the doctor – his academic education, training, and board certifications if any. It is important for every parent to know if the doctor is highly competent to handle a newborn, what hospitals he is affiliated with, and his standing in the local medical community.

When it comes to choosing a baby doctor, several factors must be taken into consideration to ensure he is the right one for your child. First on the list is the family pediatrician. Many organizations advocate parents to get in touch with the family pediatrician even before the baby is born so mother, father, and the pediatrician can sit down and discuss important matters relevant to the needs of the baby. You will find it very comforting when you go into labor because you know the family pediatrician is just a phone call away.

4. First Doctor Visit: What to Expect

What’s important about the first visit is that it gives you and your baby’s pediatrician a chance to establish your baby’s baseline health, so that the pediatrician knows what is normal for your baby, and can then monitor her as she grows and develops. Establishing rapport and trust with your baby’s pediatrician is important. Before your baby even arrives, you will want to be sure that the pediatrician’s philosophy and communication style is in line with your parent perspective. Remember, each baby is different and, working together, you and the pediatrician will learn how to maintain your baby’s health.

The first visit to any doctor with your newborn can be overwhelming, but of all the doctor visits you will have, the first could be the most comforting because your baby’s pediatrician will likely ask many of the questions racing through your mind. Feeding and sleeping concerns, jaundice, what to do in an emergency, safety – these are just a few things to review during this first visit to your baby’s doctor. A pediatrician typically sees you and your baby when she’s brand new to perform a newborn checkup in the hospital. However, your first appointment in the doctor’s office will be scheduled for a few days to a week after you are discharged.

4.1. Medical History and Family Health

It is essential to talk to your doctor and give them a comprehensive list of known diseases in both sides of your family. It can be also important to talk to doctors about any non-biological offspring. For example, how would that change the nature of your baby’s family health history and what tests may be recommended? Children share 50% of their genetic history with their biological mother and 50% with their biological father. They share 14% of genetic ancestry from biological grandparents, 7% from great-grandparents, and only 3.5% with great-great-grandparents. Knowing the complete genetic family history can help the pediatrician understand the trigger concerns that may not be apparent in you or your baby right now, but could develop later. This information can also help with screening and support early interventions.

No one knows your baby more intimately than their parents. You will essentially become your baby’s primary care provider. Given this, it is important to have open and honest, and long conversations with your pediatrician about your baby. This can include what your birth and prenatal experiences were like, personal experiences, family experiences, your birth story, what your baby was like in the delivery room and in the days since you have been home. Share with your doctor all of the vaccinations that your baby has received prior to visiting the office for the first time and talk to them about any plans or fears you have about vaccination moving forward. But even more important than discussing these routine topics are open conversations about family health history and any personal medical history.

5. Preparing for Doctor Visits

If your baby is taking more time to develop basic motor or facial control, learning to build social relationships and interact with their immediate and much broader world, standing when held or held in a standing posture for age-appropriate reasons, or reaching up for objects and attempting to grab them, your baby is exhibiting early signs consistent with certain developmental disorders. If your baby, a child in pain, or a medical professional has profound concerns, your baby, a child, or a medical professional should promptly request and initiate a developmental evaluation and comprehensive assessment to determine the problems that are present and where the delays are originating within the child’s family life. Your baby will benefit from developmental milestones checkups and appropriate developmental surveillance because parents, caregivers, and families are uniquely positioned to get to know their newborn baby. As a loving family friend or caring family member, older siblings and grandparents are responsible for screening and identifying potential unaddressed health issues that could lead to behavior or school problems, unravel the social fabric and parenting capabilities of the family, and impact the health and well-being of the child as they develop.

Think of the experience as a lifelong habit you’ll be helping your baby form to support lifetime wellness and make time with the doctor pleasant and comfortable, for both yourself and your baby. That’s what happens when you’re prepared and know what to expect. Make a quick and easy checklist of the essential items to pack in your baby’s diaper bag for doctor visits. Having your baby’s diaper bag already packed and ready to go can help to make these frequent trips more efficient – and unnecessary stress-free days. Review some of the tests your baby may need or your doctor may suggest, based on their health, your family history and how long it has been since your little one was last seen. The purpose of testing the blood or other samples from your baby at one of these visits is for the baby to achieve optimal health and the best start in life – any testing increases the chances of identifying any developmental, emotional, physical or social gaps that need to be addressed and corrected, in a very timely manner for the best possible long-term outcomes.

5.1. Organizing Documents and Questions

Also, write down all of the questions that arise so that you don’t break out in hives once you get to the appointment and can’t think of them. Well visits are a perfect time to ask about any health or concerns you have. Ask all your questions. Make sure to bring a list of any questions you have so that you don’t forget in the office. You might have some but not all of your questions answered. Most often, the nurse will review the normal baby nonsense during this visit. If she doesn’t, you will want to be able to ask her some questions about feeding, diapering, and, most important of all, sleeping patterns. These are important factors for survival in the first few months. And relaxation is important for your baby’s development so everyone else can benefit.

Before you go to the visit, it helps to have all of the important documents and questions ready as you lead up to the appointment. Some parents compile an all-in-one baby book of important medical documents and instructions. It’s a good idea to create a baby medical binder for all of your important medical-related documents. Initially, this will include basic documents like the child’s birth certificate and any hospital documents (medical release forms, hospital instructions, etc.). Over time, you will add recommended well visit schedules, newborn checkup findings, and vaccination records.

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