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Growth and Development, Newborn - Routine Checkups

Birth exam

Your baby's first checkup begins in the hospital right after birth when a nurse assesses the baby's Apgar scores. This test checks certain physical traits to help determine whether your newborn needs any interventions or special monitoring right away. Temperature and vital signs are always closely watched during the baby's first 6 hours. Your baby may also have the following soon after birth:

  • A thorough physical exam. Within 24 hours of birth, a doctor will examine your baby, check his or her breathing and heartbeat, and assess the baby's ability to pass urine and stool.
  • Measurements of length, head circumference, and weight.
  • Antibiotic eyedrops. Because newborns can get eye infections from bacteria in the birth canal, some states require that antibiotic eyedrops or ointment be given.
  • Screening tests, such as hearing tests and tests that check for genetic diseases like phenylketonuria.
  • Injections, such as vitamin K, and possibly some immunizations, such as for hepatitis B.

Well-child visits

In the first weeks after birth, your baby begins a series of health exams, sometimes called well-child visits. Doctors have individual approaches to the timing of these appointments. During one or more of these visits, your baby will have:

  • Length, weight, and head circumference measurements taken. These measurements are plotted on a growth chart and are compared to previous and later markings to make sure the baby is growing as expected.
  • A physical exam. The doctor examines your baby thoroughly for any problems. The doctor also assesses the baby's reflexes and general development and observes how you and your baby interact. You are asked questions about how the baby and the rest of the family are doing, how the baby is eating and sleeping, and whether you have noticed any changes in behavior.
  • Immunizations. Your doctor can provide you with a schedule so that you know how many vaccines to expect at each visit. For more information, see the topic Immunizations.
  • Screening test follow-up, if needed.

Routine checkups are a good time for parents to ask about what to expect in the weeks to come. You may find it helpful to go to your baby's checkups with a prepared list of concerns(What is a PDF document?).

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 01, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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