Having a baby usually means that the near and distant future will be peppered with plenty of doctor’s visits, starting just days after birth. In fact, most babies meet their pediatricians before being released from the hospital for the first time. A pediatrician is a parent’s partner in health, wellness, and prevention for their children. It is important to maintain all pediatric appointments, which serve to evaluate a child’s growth and development, as well as immunize babies and children against dangerous diseases.
Did you know…
that it is normal for a new baby to lose some weight between birth and the first pediatrician’s visit? In fact, nearly all newborn babies lose weight during their first week of life. Pediatricians monitor this weight loss at initial appointments to ensure babies are feeding properly and adequately. Generally, a breastfed baby can lose as much as 7 to 10 percent of birth weight in the first week without causing alarm. Formula-fed babies, on the other hand, should lose no more than 5 percent of birth weight.
Frequently Asked Questions
When should I take my child to the pediatrician?
Your child’s pediatrician will probably schedule a visit sometime between 3 and 5 days after birth. However, it is important to wait no more than one week to schedule an initial pediatric visit. This is a crucial time – especially for babies who were discharged from the hospital at less than 48 hours old. This first visit, which is arguably the most important, is when your pediatrician checks your baby for jaundice and health conditions that may not have been detected in the hospital, such as congenital heart disease.
What should I expect during our visit?
Your first visit may be one of the longest. If your child did not receive the hepatitis B shot at birth, it will be administered in the office at the first visit. Your child will also be measured and weighed, and the pediatrician will conduct a physical exam. Be prepared to answer questions about your child’s eating habits, including how frequently your baby is feeding and how long. Your child’s pediatrician may spend time talking with you about related topics, such as developmental milestones, teaching a child to sleep through the night, and baby-proofing your home and car.
How often will I need to return to my child’s pediatrician?
Most parents schedule subsequent pediatric appointments before leaving the office at each visit. After your child’s initial visit, he or she will need to return for wellness check-ups and immunizations multiple times over the next two years, and then once annually after that. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends pediatric check-ups at 3-5 days after birth, 1, 2, 5, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 24, 30, 36 months of age and then once a year afterward. Your schedule may vary slightly from the AAP’s recommendations but should keep the same general timeline.