Your new bundle of joy has arrived — congratulations! In all the anticipation and excitement, you may have a moment of realization and ask: Now what?
CHOC is here to help. Your child will have their first newborn check-up when they are three to five days old. There, you’ll get all the details about your baby’s health, practical health and safety advice and answers to all your questions (it’s normal to have many!). If you haven’t established care with a pediatrician yet, visit CHOC’s how to choose a pediatrician guide for advice and tools.
What to bring with you to your baby’s first check-up
Your baby’s health records
Bring the paperwork or records you received from your hospital or birthing center. This includes any medical records, test results and discharge instructions.
Your insurance card
Make sure to bring your insurance card and any necessary co-payments.
Your diaper bag with the essentials
Bring a change of clothes, extra diapers and wipes, an extra bottle of formula in you are not breastfeeding and a pacifier. You’ll want to dress your baby in loose-fitting clothing, like a onesie, that can be easily removed because the pediatrician will need to weigh and examine them. Bring a blanket to keep them warm and lay it underneath your child as your pediatrician examines them on the table.
A support person
If possible, bring your partner or another caregiver with you to the appointment. With two of you, one can focus on listening to the pediatrician and asking questions while the other cares for the baby and vice versa.
A list of questions
Speaking of questions, come prepared with a list of things you wanted to ask the pediatrician about your baby’s health, feeding, sleeping or development.
What to expect at your baby’s first check-up
A typical baby’s check-up appointment will last around 30 minutes. When you arrive, the receptionist will ask you to fill out some paperwork. Then, when you are called into the exam room, your care team will:
- Get your baby’s measurements. The nurse or medical assistant will undress your baby and measure their weight, height and head circumference. They will also check their vital signs like heart rate, respiratory rate and temperature.
- Perform an examination. Your pediatrician will examine your baby from head to toe, checking their skin, eyes, ears, nose, mouth and reflexes. They will also offer advice and address any questions you have about your baby’s development, sleeping, feeding and safety.
- Review screening tests. Your pediatrician will review the screening tests from the hospital and repeat tests if needed. If a hearing test wasn’t done at the hospital, your baby will receive one now.
- Give necessary immunizations. At their first appointment, your baby will receive the Hepatitis B vaccine if they didn’t receive it at the hospital. Then, your pediatrician will follow an immunization schedule for your baby’s next check-ups.
- Answer questions. This is when you can pull out your list! Your pediatrician will have time for all your questions. Remind yourself that there are no dumb questions—your care team wants you to feel informed and confident!
What happens next for your baby
Your baby’s next check-up will be when they turn one month old. The receptionist at your pediatrician’s office will likely schedule your next appointment on your way out of your baby’s first check up.
Visit CHOC’s Ages and Stages page for developmental milestones to watch for this month. Be sure to call your pediatrician with any questions or concerns. Visit CHOC’s where to go for care guide for symptom-based advice on when to call your pediatrician, visit urgent care or go to the emergency department.
Parents’ most common questions about their newborn baby
It’s common for parents of a newborn baby to have a lot of questions — it is all new and overwhelming! Take a deep breath and seek your pediatrician’s advice at your baby’s check-up. But, until then, Dr. Allevato answers parents’ common questions.
How much crying is normal?
Crying frequently is normal for newborns. Some babies may cry for two to three hours a day for the first six weeks of their lives. During the first three months of life, babies will cry more than at any other time.
How do I bathe my baby?
Give your baby only sponge baths until after:
- The umbilical cord falls off and the navel heals completely, usually between one to four weeks.
- The circumcision heals, usually one to two weeks.
During these sponge baths, use warm, not-too-hot water and a washcloth to gently wash your baby’s body. Avoid getting water in their eyes or mouth.
Once your baby’s umbilical cord falls off or their circumcision heals, a bath in an infant tub of water two or three times a week in the first year is fine. More frequent bathing may be drying to the skin.
Have these items ready before bathing your baby:
- A soft, clean washcloth.
- Mild, unscented baby soap and shampoo.
- A soft brush to stimulate the baby’s scalp.
- Towel, clean diaper and clean clothes.
How often do I need to change my baby’s diapers?
Your baby’s diaper should be changed every two to three hours. Babies may urinate as often as everyone one to three hours, and they may have between two and five bowel movements a day.
How much sleep should my newborn be getting?
A newborn may sleep 14 to 17 hours or more in 24 hours, waking up often (day and night) to breastfeed or take a bottle. Breastfed babies usually wake to eat every one to three hours, while formula-fed babies may sleep longer, waking every two to four hours to eat (formula takes longer to digest so babies feel fuller longer).
Newborns should not sleep more than four hours between feedings until they have good weight gain, usually within the first few weeks. After that, it’s OK if a baby sleeps for longer stretches.
What is the safest sleep position for my baby?
Place your baby on their back for sleep or naps. This can decrease the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), aspiration and choking.
Never place your baby on their side or stomach for sleep or naps. If your baby is awake, allow your child time on their tummy as long as you are supervising, to strengthen the neck and head muscles.
For more health and wellness resources from the pediatric experts at CHOC, sign up for the Kids Health newsletter.
How to prevent and treat respiratory illnesses this season
Unfortunately, many kids get infected with respiratory illnesses in the fall and winter seasons. CHOC experts highly encourage all eligible members of households to receive their annual flu shots. Other preventative measures like good hygiene and staying home when sick can help protect families from illness. The following articles and guides provide more information.
From babies to teens, pediatricians from CHOC’s Primary Care Network partner with parents to offer immunizations, sick visits, sports physicals and more.