Once your baby is ready to leave the hospital, a pediatrician will release him or her, and you’ll get to go home with the newest member of your family.
During the first few weeks, you will need to take your baby to the pediatrician for routine follow-up visits, also known as well-child visits.
What will the doctor check during the first visits?
These visits are to make sure your baby is healthy and thriving and to offer treatments if your baby needs extra help. Some things the doctor will do are:
- check your baby’s weight and length and measure the head circumference
- perform a thorough physical exam to check for any problems
- watch how your baby interacts with you
- ask you questions about how you and your baby are doing and how the rest of your family is adjusting; questions may include:
- How is your baby eating? How much? How often?
- How frequently does your baby spit up after feedings or between feedings?
- Is your baby having any trouble eating?
- How is your baby sleeping? How many hours and how many hours at a time?
- Do you have any concerns about your baby’s sleep habits?
- Have you seen any changes in behavior?
- How often do you have to change diapers, and what do bowel movements look like?
- How often does your baby cry, and is it difficult to console him or her?
- give any required immunizations and offer immunizations that are recommended but not necessarily required
- perform follow-up testing if the in-hospital screening tests were abnormal or inconclusive
Ask your own questions
Your baby’s routine follow-up visits are a good time for you to talk with the pediatrician about any concerns you have. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If it’s helpful to you, bring a list of questions with you so you don’t forget what you wanted to ask. Take notes of the answers if that will help you. If possible, bring someone else with you to the visits so one of you can hold and console your baby while the other takes notes. It may be easier to pay attention to what the doctor has to say if you do not have to multitask.
Becoming a partner with the doctor
Remember that you and your baby’s doctor are partners in protecting your baby’s health. Think of the doctor as your ally, and build a trusting relationship with him or her so the two of you can work well together as your baby grows and develops.