By Christina VanGinkel
You delivered your baby, all went well, and you soon welcomed him or her into the family. Before you barely blink, it is time for your baby's first well baby examination, or what is commonly referred to as their first checkup. The average age your baby will be is about two weeks. I say about, because depending on how long you stayed in the hospital, your pediatrician's or family doctor's schedule, and various other circumstances, the two week age is just an estimate, and it may very well be that you baby is just over a week old, or even closer to the three week age mark. All are within the range of what is normal.
Being prepared for your baby's first checkup before you ever set foot into the physician's office can mean the difference between coming away from the visit with the feeling that you gained something from the outing, instead of being befuddled on what you or baby gained from the event.
Make a List
As simple as this sounds, it is the best thing you can do to make sure that you are prepared and do not forget to ask anything you might want to ask. Do not be afraid to write down anything that comes to mind. Doctors cannot do their job effectively if parents do not provide them with the questions they need answered. What you fear might be a silly or time wasting question might actually be the one question that can root out early issues or problems. Some of the smallest details that a parent might notice, a doctor can overlook in the short span of time they can spend with this, one of their newest patients. They need a parent's insight and help. A parent's questions can be the link they need to understand their tiny patient.
Some infants sleep through this first visit, others are wide eyed the whole time, and others stretch their lungs. A list can also help you to not lose your train of thought if baby decides to use the visit to scream at the top of their lungs or you are just too tired to recall all that you wanted to ask.
When you write you list, leave room to make notes of any answers that you think you might want to refer back to at a later time.
Be Prepared to Answer Questions
As you have questions, so will the doctor. He or she will want to know such things as how often baby is nursing or taking a bottle, and how long they nurse each time or how many ounces, they drink. They will also want to know how many wet and dirty diapers baby has each day, and if baby is content after a feeding or if they seem in distress. They will also want to know if baby is spitting up a lot or experiencing any projectile vomiting. If the patient doctor relationship is new, he or she might also use this time to be sure that they have a complete family history. If this is also a new doctor from the one that oversaw baby in the hospital, you might want to prearrange that he or she have complete access to all the hospital records, including information on such issues as whether baby was circumcised.
Ask for Samples
Well-baby visits, both the first and future ones are great times to ask for any samples that the doctor's office might have available. Though I nursed my children, I received a case of ready-made bottles from the doctor's office on each first visit for those inopportune times baby might need a backup feeding. Lotions, formula, diapers, pacifiers, even filled diaper bags can all be had from your doctor if they have them on hand. Salespeople often leave these samples with them for just these types of visits. Many are accompanied by coupons and leaflets with information on the products by the particular company who provided the doctor with the samples in the first place. This is also a good way to sample different formulas if you feel that your baby may have a difficult time with certain types of or may even be lactose intolerant.