Well Child Visits
The Importance of the Baby Well Visit
In your baby's first year, every month brings changes: tiny smiles, budding teeth, and eventually, crawling and walking. During well-baby visits, your family doctor will check for proper growth and development and answer your questions about eating, sleeping, vaccinations, etc.
The first exam should be 24 to 48 hours after your newborn leaves the hospital.
Later visits typically happen at 2 weeks and at 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, and 12 months of age.
Your baby will usually receive the first recommended vaccination, the hepatitis B vaccine, before leaving the hospital. At later well visits, your baby will receive vaccines to prevent whooping cough, meningitis, pneumonia, measles, mumps, and other childhood diseases.
During each visit, the doctor will measure your infant's weight, length, and head circumference. "I examine every baby from head to toe," Dr. Tartaglia says. "The first year is such a crucial time, and we want to make sure that babies are on track and doing everything that they should be."
The doctor will make sure that the fontanels (soft spots on your baby's head) are open when they are born and closing properly as they age. She will also check your infant's eyes, ears, and mouth and listen to their heart and lungs. Next, the doctor will feel your baby's abdomen and check the genital area. She'll also look for rashes and jaundice and examine the arms, legs, and hip joints.
While every parent loves a checkup that ends with a clean bill of health, the exams are crucial to uncover problems, such as hernias, undescended testicles, or heart murmurs that require a specialist's attention.
Doctors also look for developmental markers at each visit, such as your baby's ability to make eye contact, smile at you, or sit up without support.
Questions for Your Doctor
New parents may find themselves tuned in to when their baby needs a diaper change, or they may need a seasoned pro to guide them through the trials of cradle cap and trimming tiny fingernails. Certainly, if parents are worried that their baby seems ill, they should call Dr. Tartaglia`s answering service any time of day or night.
But well visits are the perfect time to pick the doctor's brain. You just might learn that sticky or seedy bowel movements are normal in the early weeks, or that filing your baby's fingernails works just as well as cutting them.