Growth and Development, Newborn - Routine Checkups
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
- 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
- Measurements of length, head circumference, and
- 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
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
- 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
- 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?).