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Newborn Basics

Q&A: Baby's First Checkup?

What happens during baby’s first checkup?

Many babies get to meet their new doctor in the newborn nursery for their first official checkup. A complete physical examination is done, vital signs are checked, and the pediatrician and the parents meet to discuss feeding, newborn care, and follow-up visits. In cases where the parents choose a pediatrician outside the hospital, the first newborn visit should be before the baby is a week old, preferably two days after getting home from the hospital. 

Parents are asked to fill out a comprehensive family history, which is very important given that many childhood diseases and illnesses have a strong genetic or hereditary component. The doctor will also take a full history of the pregnancy, birth, and nursery routine. Then she will discuss feeding, sleep, behavioral issues like crying, and review development. 

After all this talking with the parents, it's time to check the person of honor. The pediatrician will complete a full physical examination, including recording weight, length, and head circumference. The parents can also ask questions — hopefully the majority of which have already been answered during the checkup. I always discuss the "reasons to call" so that the new parents know what constitutes an emergency or an urgent problem in their newborn. I also let them know that they can call with questions, which often come up the minute the family gets home!

By Dr. Paula Prezioso, MD, is in private practice at Pediatric Associates of New York City and is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the NYU Medical School.