New parents love to celebrate all of those special baby “firsts”—the first smile, the first time she rolls over, sits up, and eventually walks! But as pediatricians, there’s another first that we consider particularly significant, and that’s your baby’s first checkup.
Ideally, this inaugural visit to the pediatrician will not be the first time you’re meeting your baby’s doctor. It’s important for prospective parents to scope out various practices prior to having the baby. This way, you can meet with several pediatricians and find a practice and a doctor that you click with. This is a relatively intimate relationship, so it’s not something to be taken lightly. You really want to find someone that you trust. And ideally, the practice will also be nearby so that you can bring the baby in quickly if you need to.
After you deliver, the hospital pediatrician will tell you when to bring the baby in for the first visit—that timing depends somewhat on the baby’s health status while in the hospital. In most cases, we want to see a baby in the office within the first 48 to 72 hours after discharge.
If you’ve had a C-section, your baby has usually been in the hospital for three or four days, in which case we may give you a little more leeway because the baby has been observed and examined for several days in a row already. But if there were issues in the hospital, such as trouble with breastfeeding or jaundice, we’ll probably want to see your newborn a little sooner—probably within 24 hours after leaving the hospital.
Here’s what you can expect at that essential first visit: