During baby’s first year, frequent visits to the pediatrician are a rite of passage for parents. Ideally, they ease family concerns, as a crucial part of monitoring kids’ growth and overall health. Because a parent’s mind is already full, it’s helpful to be prepared with questions before you see your child’s doctor.
In a newborn’s first month of life, they sleep an average of about 20 to 22 hours per day (even though their parents definitely do not!). Their weight, length and head circumference grow. Also, basic bodily functions and eating routines begin to develop. Important questions to ask your pediatrician include:
- How is my baby growing? Are the results for weight, length and head circumference tracking appropriately on their growth chart?
- How often should my baby be eating? What is the average volume of breast milk or formula I should be feeding my baby at this age? What factors should I consider when trying breastfeeding, bottle feeding or a combination of both?
- What should I do if I’m having trouble breastfeeding?
- When is it okay to offer my baby a pacifier? Does this differ if I’m breastfeeding?
- What are typical sleep patterns at this age? What safe sleep practices should I implement? Should I wake my baby to feed?
- How can I recognize if my baby is hungry? What cues indicate hunger, in contrast to when they need soothing or a diaper change?
- What are signs of colic? What should I do if my baby shows these signs?
- What’s normal for a newborn’s basic bodily functions? How many wet diapers should I be changing each day? What qualifies as normal bowel movements for a newborn? How can I ease my baby’s gas or colic?
- How should I care for my baby’s sensitive skin?
- How do I know it’s time to call the doctor? What is considered a fever for a newborn? When should I start preparing for my child to receive immunizations?
Note that in addition to baby’s health, pediatricians will screen parents for Post-Partum Anxiety (PPA) and Post-Partum Depression (PPD) during the child’s first month of life. Parents’ mental health greatly impacts an infant’s ability to thrive, grow and develop.
In their second through sixth months, babies continue to grow and begin reaching developmental milestones. Feeding patterns solidify, and sleeping patterns are more regular. Ask your pediatrician:
- How is my baby’s length, weight and head circumference compared to last visit? Do you have any concerns about their growth?
- Is my child on track to achieve developmental milestones, such as opening and shutting hands and rolling over? What can I anticipate and look for them to do within these months? What can I do to stimulate development? Am I doing anything to hinder milestone achievement?
- When and how should I introduce solids foods to my baby? What foods do you recommend we try, and in what order? Should I be worried about a family history of food allergies?
- When will my baby start teething? What can I do to help them through this?
- What is considered a consolidated sleep pattern at this age? How can I make my baby’s sleep environment safe? If I choose to, can I sleep-train baby?
From months seven to 12, growth trends begin to reveal themselves to the pediatrician and parent. More developmental milestones are achieved, including mobility. Early wakeups could become a habit in this stage, so it’s important to set a healthy sleeping routine. These are the times to support a healthy immune system and stay up-to-date with vaccinations.
- Is my baby settling into a healthy growth trend?
- What should I anticipate when it comes to cognitive, verbal and social milestones at this age? As my baby’s mobility becomes more advanced, when should I baby-proof my home? When should I drop down the crib mattress?
- What could cause my baby waking frequently in the middle of the night? What can I do to break this habit? Is there anything I’m doing now to enable this behavior?
- What additional solid foods can I introduce to my baby? Should they begin using utensils? When should I introduce sippy cups?
- When should I start brushing my baby’s teeth?
- Is my baby up-to-date on vaccinations? When is the next round of vaccinations?
As your question list grows alongside your child, it is always smart to consult your pediatrician. These conversations in baby’s first year can equip you with the information you need to raise a healthy, thriving child.