Eating Habits, Sleep Routines, Vaccinations
Good eating habits start early, so another part of these visits is discussing what your baby is currently noshing on. Your doctor will talk to you about whether your child is consuming enough food and will instruct you when to make big changes, such as adding baby cereal, table foods, and whole milk. This is also a time to bring up any concerns about your child's eating habits, such as if she's not getting the hang of eating off a spoon.
The number one problem voiced by parents in my practice is poor sleep patterns, so it's probably a main concern for you too. At the checkup, we'll likely ask you specific questions about your baby's sleep habits, because what constitutes a problem for one mother may be perfectly fine for another. An example of this is the issue of co-sleeping.
Although the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against bed sharing, based on the possible risk of suffocation, many parents choose to have their baby sleep in bed with them and don't view it as a problem, while others do so only because they can't get their baby to go to sleep any other way. Whatever the reason, I urge parents to be open and honest about their sleeping arrangement.
If you fall into the first group, say something like, "Emma does sleep with us in our bed, but we don't see it as a problem." This lets me know that you're not looking for a "fix" to co-sleeping, and I'm happy to move on to the next subject at hand after reviewing the safety issues of bed sharing.
If, on the other hand, you fall into the second group of parents who are in need of another solution to avoid co-sleeping, then most pediatricians are happy to offer several suggestions.
The last (but not least) parts of these well-baby visits are the immunizations. They are usually done at the end of the visit, and, depending on age, your baby may be getting anywhere from one to four shots at a time. Combination vaccines can minimize the number of actual injections your baby will need, but some are associated with a slightly higher rate of side effects, such as fever. Ask your pediatrician if she offers these vaccines, and ask her to discuss their pros and cons.
You'll come away from these well-baby visits with a wealth of information about baby-care issues. Remember that checkups are also a time to celebrate milestones, so grab that baby book and record how your child is growing.
Sara DuMond, MD, is a pediatrician in Mooresville, North Carolina, and the mother of two children.
Originally published in American Baby magazine, August 2006.
The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.