How to Survive Your Baby’s Checkups

As exciting as it is to see your baby’s weight and height plotted on her growth chart and ask your pediatrician all of your burning childcare questions, taking your baby to the doctor’s office is usually not a thrilling experience. Today we’re offering tips on how to survive your baby’s checkups.

How to Survive Your Baby’s CheckupsAccording to the American Academy of Pediatrics, your baby will have at least seven well checkups in her first year. In addition to being seen daily in the hospital, the normal schedule for your baby’s checkups in the first year is:

  • 2-5 days after birth
  • 1 month
  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • 6 months
  • 9 months
  • 12 months

At each appointment your baby will be weighed and measured (both for length and head circumference) and the doctor will check her body thoroughly including listening to her heartbeat, looking in her eyes, mouth, ears and nose, and looking at areas such as the umbilical cord stub and circumcision. Starting at two months, your baby will begin her course of vaccinations. These are heaviest in the first 15 months and then become sporadic throughout early and middle childhood.

Along with all of these procedures your baby will have to be undressed, handed to several strangers (at least one nurse and one doctor), placed in odd and awkward positions, and examined with foreign and potentially cold objects. Needless to say your baby might be a bit peeved about the entire business of checkups. Can you blame her?

Of course you’re doing your best to keep it together because you want to focus on your baby’s health. Through your baby’s cries you try to answer the seemingly millions of questions that the nurse and doctor ask you and try to remember everything you wanted to ask in return. And then, even knowing their critical importance, you have to fight back your own tears as you watch your baby get stuck several times with vaccination needles.

Sadly most every parent has been through these difficult well checkups, even those with very agreeable, calm, happy babies. Here are a few tips on how to survive your baby’s checkups so you don’t feel like you’ve been hit by a bus afterwards:

  • Try to schedule appointments at your baby’s happiest hour. While she may not stay happy, you’re going to have the best shot of a peaceful experience during this timeframe. It can be especially difficult to find this window for newborns because their sleep/wake schedules are rather unpredictable but once you find your baby’s nap rhythm, try to schedule doctor’s appointments around that.
  • Feed your baby immediately before your visit or in the waiting room. A hungry baby is not a happy baby. Trying to feed her during the appointment will lead to a lot of stopping and starting for the weigh-in, doctor’s exam and shots. You can feed her again immediately after the appointment if necessary. That means you’ll want to wear a nursing bra or nursing tank top for easy access.
  • Dress your baby in comfortable clothes that are easy to remove and redress. Don’t forget extra diapers for after the exam.
  • Bring your very best distraction toys. Even if they are loud and musical, if these items keep your baby content, drag them to your baby’s checkups.
  • Write down anything you want to say or ask the doctor. Otherwise in the heat of the moment it may be difficult to remember everything you wanted to address/
  • Bring along a helper if at all possible. If you and your partner can tag team keeping the baby occupied, one of you can be attentive to the doctor or nurse at all times.