Growth and Development, Newborn
Your baby's first checkup begins in the hospital right after birth when a doctor assesses the baby's Reference Apgar scores Opens New Window. 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 Reference hearing assessment. Many states require hearing screening on all babies who are born in hospitals, because speech and language have a better chance of developing normally when hearing problems are caught and treated early. The Reference United States Preventive Services Task Force Opens New Window recommends that all newborns be screened for hearing loss.Reference 1
- 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.
- Newborn screening. Your baby has a sample of blood taken from the heel. This sample is used to test for Reference phenylketonuria and other inherited diseases.
- Injections, such as vitamin K, and possibly some immunizations, such as for Reference hepatitis B Opens New Window.
For more information, see:
- Reference Immunizations.
- Reference Immunizations: Questions Parents Ask.
- A childhood immunization record (What is a Reference PDF Opens New Window document?) you can fill out.
In the first weeks after birth, your baby begins a series of exams by a doctor, sometimes called Reference 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 Reference 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 Reference reflexes Opens New Window 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.
- A blood sample taken from the baby's heel (called a heel prick) to test for certain inherited diseases such as Reference phenylketonuria (PKU) Opens New Window. Although your baby may have been tested for PKU at birth, there is a risk of inaccurate test results when the test is done within 48 hours of delivery. A second PKU test should be done several days later, usually at your baby's first well-baby visit. For more information, see the topic Reference Phenylketonuria (PKU).
- Immunizations. Individual and series immunizations are started or continued at well-child visits. 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 Reference Immunizations.
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 Reference PDF Opens New Window document?).
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference August 3, 2011|
|Medical Review:||Reference Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Reference Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics