What You Need to Know About Well-Baby Visits
Well-child visits to your pediatrician provide you with an opportunity to raise any questions you may have about your infant’s development, behavior, and well-being, without the added stress of cramming everything into one visit when your baby is under the weather.
Your baby’s first exam will take place immediately after she’s born, and exams will continue at frequent intervals throughout her first year. During these visits, be sure you and your pediatrician go over the following information:
- Your baby’s growth. Is her weight on track? What about her measurements and the size of her head? Have your pediatrician track these on a graph and show you your baby’s growth in relation to that of other infants.
- Your baby’s mouth. Your pediatrician can check for any infection or signs of teething.
- Your baby’s soft spot. Your infant’s soft spot will be open and flat for the first few months, and by 2 or 3 months, it will begin to close. The front soft spot should be completely closed before she turns 2 years old. Keep track of this aspect of your infant’s development at these visits.
- Your baby’s hips and legs. Have your pediatrician move your baby’s legs to check for any problems with hip joints, including dislocation or dysplasia of the hip joint.
- Your baby’s ears and eyes. Make sure your doctor looks inside your baby’s ears, and be ready to discuss any abnormalities you may have noticed with your baby’s hearing, or questions you have about that aspect of her development. The same goes for her vision. Your doctor should shine a bright object or flashlight to catch your baby’s attention and track her eye movements.
- Your baby’s genitals. At each visit, your pediatrician should check your baby’s genitals for any unusual growths, tenderness, or signs of infection.
- Your baby’s vital organs. At your well-baby visits, the doctor should check the front and back of your baby’s chest to listen for her heart and lungs. He can also place his hand on your baby’s abdomen and gently press to check that none of her organs are enlarged.
Keep in mind that well-baby visits are also an excellent time to discuss any concerns or questions you have about your infant’s development, especially pertaining to milestones.
To make the most of both your and your pediatrician’s time, it’s a good idea to write down your top questions and bring them with you. It’s easy to get distracted by other topics once you’re in the office, but having the list with you will help you stay on track.