What to Expect During Your Baby’s Pediatrician Visits

Dr. Antwon Chavis is a general pediatrician practicing in Portland, Oregon. Antwon has a wide array of interests, such as adolescent medicine, mental health, and working with children and adolescents with behavioral or developmental issues. He and his partner, Nate, are proud fathers of two cats, Doc and Blerg.

Is it time to go to the doctor again? Probably.

You’ve started your adventure! As much time as you've spent planning for this, it's all become real quite quickly. If there's one thing that all new parents have in common, it's that they have questions. I guarantee there will be days that your child delights you, surprises you, frustrates you and concerns you. Yes, one day your kids will even stump you. I get it, and all pediatricians do. You have been granted the opportunity, through varying means, to join a child on his or her journey through life. The pediatrician is lucky enough to tag along and watch your children become who they are meant to be, with the help of their vigilant and adoring dads.

Our job as pediatricians is to shower your family with as much support as we can while you navigate through chaos. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you take your child in roughly 10 times during the first three years. Every visit will be different, you’ll soon see. And they’ll differ between families as well.

What to expect:

The first few visits, your doctor is going to try to get to know your family. Scale of 1 to terrified, where are you? Families with multiple kids and comfortable parents will have a very laid-back visit. But not all parents are comfortable. Some are overwhelmed, and that’s normal. I tell all first-time parents that there will be a point, regardless of your background and intellect, that you will be momentarily clueless. That’s OK! Your doctor will help you adjust to your new normal.

Typical your baby will have a “Well Baby Checkup” within 24 hours of delivery, at 3-5 days of life, and then at 2-4 weeks, 2, 4, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 24, 30 and 36 months. Each visit will address these basic things:

  • Nutrition and growth: You’ll discuss feeding schedules, transitioning to solids, growth curves, and of course: poop.
  • Development: What new things can your baby do? It’s a time to show off!
  • Anticipatory guidance: This includes sleeping habits, oral health, safety, tummy time, multivitamins, and everything in between.
  • Immunizations: A triumph of modern civilization.
  • Routine screenings:
  • Newborn screens: These vary by state but usually occur twice between birth and 2 months. These check for rare but manageable inheritable disorders.
  • Anemia/lead screen: Typically done around 12 months.
  • Hearing screens: Usually done before leaving the hospital.
  • Developmental and autism screens: Any issues lead to further discussions and referrals to programs that help with development. 
  • What is your doctor looking for?

    Your doctor is looking for signs that they should followup with your family more often. Is your baby growing OK? Is your baby developing OK? Is there an exam finding I’m worried about? Is this family doing something so well that I should recommend it to other families?

    Are daddies adjusting well? – Paternal postpartum depression occurs in roughly 10 percent of new dads. Fortunately it is treatable, the sooner the better. If you’re suffering, ask for help.

    How to prepare.

    This is my favorite part of this post. These are things that the dads of our community can do to make visits with their pediatrician productive and beneficial:

  • Have questions. Have a thousand questions if you want. If your doctor can’t answer them all at one visit, schedule more visits. Ask the questions that the grandparents have been bugging you about. Ask the questions that come up at 2 a.m. Write them down if you need to. Some doctors are better at answering them than others, I get that. But if you are an anxious, list-making parent and you leave your visits with more questions than answers, consider a doctor that better suites your family.
  • Bring records. Especially in our community where your child may not have been with you since birth, having records (biological family history, previous vaccinations, birth history, etc.) can be extremely helpful. If you don’t know those, it’s fine. Your doctor understands. But anything helps.
  • Be prepared! Vaccinations are tough on some dads. You may need to step out of the room while they’re given. Conversely, you may also be needed to hold your baby and help keep him or her calm. There’s always paperwork, so bring a free hand. Also, bring a fresh diaper and a change of clothes. Poop happens.
  • The newborn and infant visits are typically more involved than the others. As your kiddo grows, your visits become less of a doctor-parent conversation and more of a conversation directly with your kid. Until then, take lots of pictures and hold on tight. Because your kid is going places. I guarantee it.

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