What to Expect During Baby’s First Year
Having a new baby, whether it’s your first or not, brings about a slew of emotions and experiences, including unconditional love and incredible joy, new levels of exhaustion, and concerns and questions about the health of your baby. Knowing what to expect during the first year in terms of doctor’s appointments, wellness exams, immunizations and more will help you to feel more prepared and less overwhelmed as you navigate your baby’s first year of life.
Most doctor’s appointments during baby’s first year will be pretty similar. Your baby will most likely have about seven doctor’s appointments in their first year of life: just after birth at around 1-2 weeks, and then at 1 month, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months, and 1 year. The doctor will weigh the baby, measure his or her length, and measure his or her head circumference. The doctor will do a physical exam where they listen to the baby’s heart and lungs, look at the eyes, ears, and mouth, check the soft spot on the head, test baby’s reflexes and muscle tone, look at the genitals to ensure there are no infections or other problems, and check for joint function in the hips. The doctor will give your baby shots at certain appointments and ask a variety of questions about development, common problems at the baby’s particular age, and about general health and safety topics. Below are a couple topics your doctor will likely ask about at each of your baby’s appointments throughout his or her first year:
- Sleep – Is the baby sleeping well? Are baby’s sleep habits consistent or erratic? What position does the baby sleep in? Where does baby sleep?
- Eating – What is the baby eating? How frequently do they eat? Does his or her appetite seem to be healthy and does baby seem satisfied after eating? This may be discussed more in-depth if your baby’s weight gain seems too high or too low. Your doctor can also give recommendations on when to start baby food, when to begin finger foods, and how to help your baby learn to self-feed.
- Diapers – How many wet and dirty diapers does your baby have each day? What is the consistency and color of baby’s bowel movements?
- Disposition – Is your baby generally happy? Does he or she have long periods of fussiness or is it often hard to calm him or her down when upset?
- Development – Depending on your baby’s age, the doctor will ask about them reaching developmental milestones, such as holding their head up, rolling over, sitting up, scooting, crawling, pulling up to stand, cruising, and walking. The doctor may also ask about sounds your baby is making, particularly as baby gets older, and how their fine and gross motor skills appear to be developing.
Your baby will receive a Hepatitis B vaccine at birth, and will then receive the second dose of that at either 1 or 2 months of age. At 2 months, your baby will receive vaccinations for Rotavirus, DTaP, and 3 others. The second dose of each of those immunizations will be given at 4 months. Some vaccines require a third dose, which is usually given sometime between 6 and 15 months, depending on the vaccine. Around 1 year of age, babies receive shots for the flu, MMR, varicella, and hepatitis A. Some catch-up time is allowed for certain vaccinations, but most childcare facilities require your child to be up-to-date on all vaccines to be under their care.
The first year of your child’s life should be fun and enjoyable, and knowing what to expect from doctor’s visits and immunization requirements will help you to enjoy that special first year even more. To learn more about baby’s wellness exams and well-child care, or to schedule an appointment for your baby, contact NCHS today.