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WHAT - HOW - WHEN BABY VISITING DOCTOR

 WHAT - HOW - WHEN BABY VISITING DOCTOR
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Your baby’s doctor–whether a pediatrician or a family practice doctor–wants to help you give your baby the very best start in life. To see that your baby’s development is progressing smoothly, the doctor will ask you to bring your baby in for regular checkups.

How often should you take baby to the doctor?

  • To begin with, your doctor will probably want to see your baby for a checkup sometime shortly after birth. And, if you are breastfeeding your baby, your doctor may recommend that a lactation consultant or visiting nurse come to your home within the first several days to observe you nursing your baby, answer any questions about nursing, and generally help ensure that breastfeeding gets off to a GOOD START®.
  • Later, because babies pass through many important stages in these early months and need regular immunizations, your doctor will probably want to see your baby for examinations at 2, 4, 6, 9, 12, 15, and 18 months. At many exams your baby will receive immunizations, according to a schedule recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and your doctor’s assessment of your baby’s health.

What your doctor expects of you :

At each visit, you should be prepared to tell the doctor how your baby is sleeping and eating and your observations about his general demeanor. Also, bring up any concerns you may have about his development. Doctors expect new parents to be nervous and to ask all kinds of questions. So ask away–there are no stupid questions!

What does a checkup involve?

In addition to performing a general physical exam on baby, the doctor will take growth measurements (head circumference, length, and weight) and check for heart and lung function.

At baby’s first visit after birth, the doctor will also check for:

  • Healing of the umbilical cord area and, if it applies, the circumcision
  • Your baby’s startle response to noise
  • Eyes that follow movement
  • Skin tone (yellowish skin sometimes indicates a common newborn condition called jaundice that is treated with light)
  • Development of the genitals and abdominal organs

At later visits your doctor may want to test your baby’s blood for hemoglobin (the oxygen-carrying part of red blood cells) and lead levels. In addition to the physical checks noted earlier, your doctor will also:

  • Check muscle function and tone.
  • Check baby’s hearing (noting whether your baby turns toward and responds to voices speaking at normal volumes).
  • Keep track of certain developmental milestones, including if baby lifts his head, rolls over from front to back and back to front without assistance, sits up unassisted, grasps a small object with thumb and fingers, bears some weight on his legs, and coos and babbles in nonsense syllables.
  • Discuss your baby’s sleeping times and positions.
  • Ask about baby’s feedings–including how often your baby eats, whether you’re breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, the number of wet diapers, and the frequency and characteristics of your baby’s bowel movements.
  • Question you about baby’s routines, including active times and fussy periods.
  • Offer information about particular viruses or colds in your area.

When your baby is sick

If your baby comes down with a cold or fever, is vomiting, or is exhibiting any out-of-the-ordinary behavior, call your doctor. Many practices, clinics, and health organizations offer 24-hour help lines and are more than willing to see your child if you or they decide that it’s necessary.

How to find the right doctor for your baby

Finding the right doctor for your baby is well worth the effort it will take. Ideally, you'll want to find someone who shares your philosophy of raising children or at least your general attitude if you don't have a full-blown philosophy yet. That way, you'll feel more comfortable expressing your concerns and thoughts about your child's health. Not only do you need to trust your doctor, but you need the doctor you choose to trust your mother's intuition. Here's how to shop for a doctor.

  • Decide whether you prefer a pediatrician or a family practitioner. A pediatrician is specifically trained to treat children and is well versed in baby's stages of development and childhood illnesses. Family practitioners treat patients of all ages and provide the convenience of "one-stop" doctoring by treating everyone in a family.
  • Make a list of potential doctors. Ask friends and family members for references, or call your hospital for a list of pediatricians or family practitioners who are accepting new patients. Also check with your health insurer for a list of approved physicians.
  • Call each doctor on your list to schedule a consultation before your baby is born. Ask if there's a fee when you set up the appointment.
  • Arrive for your appointment with a list of questions. Talk to both the doctor and the staff to get a better idea of how the office operates. Sit in the waiting room for a while to soak up the atmosphere and get an idea how the staff interacts with patients.

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