In a given day, about 395,000 babies are born around the world. That’s a lot of babies!
Out of all the babies in the world, yours is the special one that has come to change your little world. Of course, if you’re a first-time parent, you’re probably a little nervous.
How do you make sure they’re getting enough to eat? Should they really be sleeping that much? What on earth is tummy time?
These are just some of the questions, along with a million more, that may be running through your head.
Don’t worry, there are plenty of resources out there to help new parents. One of them is the well child visit with your pediatrician. Let’s look at what to expect the first time you go.
As with any doctor’s visit, there will be a physical examination. The pediatrician will inspect your baby’s skin with care and make note of any birthmarks or jaundice. They’ll also check to ensure that the fontanels (soft spots on the head) are closing up as they should.
You know that red eye that people are always trying to get rid of in photographs? The doctor will check your baby’s eyes with a special light to ensure they have that “red reflex”. This is because it shows the doctor that nothing (cataracts for example) is inhibiting your baby’s vision.
The doctor will also check inside your baby’s mouth to ensure the palate is forming the way it should.
Many babies suffer a small fracture in the neck or collarbone during birth. It’s quite traumatic, after all! The doctor will check to see if your baby was one of them and ensure that it is healing as it should.
The organs are another important part of the examination. The doctor will listen to your baby’s heart, noting if there is a heart murmur or irregular heartbeat. They’ll also listen to the lungs to ensure they are clear and your baby can breathe easily.
The doctor will also feel around your baby’s abdomen, checking to ensure that no organs are enlarged. Lastly, they’ll check your baby’s hips to ensure they don’t have hip dysplasia. Catching and treating this condition early is the best way to fix it.
Tracking your child’s growth is an important way to know that they are growing as they should. Thus, at every visit, the pediatrician will measure your baby’s height, weight, and head circumference.
These measurements will then be compared with other babies of the same age and sex. This will tell you what percentile for growth they fall into.
For example, if your baby falls in the 60th percentile range, 60% of babies are smaller than yours and 40% are larger.
But percentile points aren’t like scores on a test. No percentage is “bad” per se. Your baby can score in the 10th percentile and it’s perfectly fine. The concern is that your baby stays in the same percentile for the most part.
For example, if your baby typically ranges in the 60th and suddenly drops to the 10th, something could be wrong. But if your baby always ranks in the 10th, there is nothing wrong with that.
This is because of the simple fact that some people are tall and some people are short. As long as your baby is following a steady pattern of growth, that’s what matters.
Babies don’t come with instruction manuals. What’s more, every child is a little different. Routines that work for some babies won’t work for others and vice versa.
However, there are some basic principles you can learn that will help you take good care of your baby.
The Internet is a fabulous resource full of parenting advice. You can learn about everything from how to burp a baby to how to be a positive role model for your child as they grow.
Of course, you should take everything with a grain of salt. It is the Internet after all. Not everything is 100% true. Nor will everything work for your particular child.
The best advice tailored to your child, especially in medical matters, comes from your pediatrician. Your well child visits are the perfect opportunity to ask those burning questions that keep you awake at night.
Is your baby getting enough sleep? Is she eating enough? Is he developing as he should? Your pediatrician will be happy to answer these questions for you.
The Importance of the Well Child Visit
Reading through this article has probably already given you an idea about the importance of the well child visit. Many adults only visit the doctor when they feel sick or that something is wrong.
While preventative care is important for everyone, it is especially so for babies and children. Many diseases and disorders can be prevented or treated much easier by catching the problem early.
Plus, making sure that your child is on track developmentally is important as well. If your child does exhibit a delay in some area of development, you’ll learn how to help get them back on track as quickly as possible.
Don’t let anything hold you back from taking your child to the doctor for this important preventative care. If money is an issue, try looking into newborn insurance. There are many options out there that will help you look after your child’s health.
Take a Deep Breath
Being a parent is an exciting adventure. Everyone is nervous at the beginning, but pretty soon you’ll be an old pro.
We hope this article has helped you understand what to expect at your first well child visit. Now, take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy your wild new life with baby!
For more healthy living tips and tricks be sure to check out the health and wellness section of our blog!