What to Expect for Your First Newborn Doctor Visit

Pediatrician listening to newborn's lungs with stethoscope.

Leaving the house with your newborn for the first time might cause you to feel apprehensive, even for a newborn doctor appointment. Many parents are nervous because they’re taking their precious new baby out into the world and don’t know what to expect at the appointment.

How should you prepare for your first newborn doctor appointment? You might wonder when to schedule the appointment, or you might have concerns about meeting the baby’s doctor, filling out paperwork, and avoiding germs from other patients.

When Should Your Newborn’s First Health Visit Be?

Most newborns should have their first well-baby checkup at three to five days old. All parents and primary caregivers should attend this appointment to allay any fears they may have, to get their questions answered by a physician, and to learn how their new little one is doing.

When you schedule the appointment, ask for an appointment during the least busy time for the office.

Many pediatricians reserve blocks of time specifically for newborns. It’s important to ask for this newborn time slot; these times are reserved because they help limit newborns’ exposure to potentially ill children or caregivers waiting to be seen.

Getting Your Newborn Ready — What to Bring

As you get your baby ready for the appointment, keep in mind that the doctor or pediatrician will examine your baby from head to toe, so don’t overdress them or put them in complicated clothing. Bring a change of clothes and all necessities in your diaper bag, including:

  • An extra swaddling blanket
  • A pacifier
  • Diapers
  • Spit-up cloths
  • Wipes
  • A couple of bottles, if bottle-feeding
  • Anything else you feel may be needed

Many parents bring a small stuffed animal or a little toy for their newborns to this appointment; however, not only is your baby too young to understand that a toy is there, but stuffed animals can also harbor germs. Therefore, it’s best to leave little stuffed toys at home for this appointment.

Your Arrival: What’s Next?

Make sure to bring a list of questions to ask the doctor, as well as any insurance cards and hospital documents. The office will need to know what your baby weighed at discharge, how the birth went, and whether there were any complications during pregnancy or birth.

Take note of anything about your family’s medical history the doctor should know, such as if diabetes runs in your family or you have severe asthma. Make sure to relay that information to the newborn doctor to make the most of your baby’s appointment.

It’s best to have at least two people come to the appointment. One person can go inside to complete the paperwork, and the other can bring your baby in once the office is ready. This limits the time your baby will be exposed to germs from other patients or caregivers in the waiting room.

While in the waiting room, try to maintain a three-foot distance from others and have your baby face a corner to limit germ exposure.

In the Patient Exam Room

A nurse will begin your baby’s health care exam by weighing them on a baby scale while they are naked. Your baby’s head circumference, width, and length will also be measured. Don’t be alarmed if your baby has lost a little bit of weight; this is normal, and your baby should gain it back before their next wellness visit.

Once the doctor comes in, they will look at your child from head to toe and perform the following exams:

  • A head check to verify that the soft spots in the skull of the baby are good and well
  • A collarbone check to ensure it wasn’t broken during delivery
  • A pulse check in the femoral artery in the thigh to ensure it’s strong
  • A hip check to rule out hip dysplasia
  • A genitalia check to rule out infection or irregularities

The doctor will also check your baby’s breathing to rule out pediatric pulmonary (lung) or heart issues, and you’ll notice them checking your baby’s reflexes. The newborn doctor will ask about your baby’s feeding patterns, sleeping patterns, shots and vaccinations, and anything else they may find relevant.

Be Your Baby’s Advocate

A lot of ground will be covered during this initial appointment for your baby, so don’t hesitate to ask the newborn doctor to slow down, repeat what they’ve said, or explain something more clearly.

You must be your baby’s advocate at every appointment since they cannot advocate for themselves. And before you leave, make sure to schedule their one-month health checkup!