Getting a healthy start after birth is important. That’s why babies have their first appointment just a few days after being born. Get the most out of your baby’s first doctor visit by learning what to expect and how to best prepare.

What does a newborn’s first appointment involve?
At the first visit, we weigh the baby and check to see how he or she is growing. It’s anticipated the baby will lose a little bit of weight after he or she is born. We ask the parents how the baby is sleeping and feeding, and examine things like the umbilical stump, eyes and skin while looking for rashes or jaundice. We will also assess how the baby responds to loud sounds, make sure he or she can move arms and legs equally and check a few reflexes babies are born with, like the startle reflex.

This may be the first time out of the house for most babies. What items should be packed and brought along?
Parents should bring in any paperwork they were given at the hospital during delivery. This allows us to check that all required tests and immunizations were completed and to compare the baby’s weight. I also advise parents to bring in any questions that have come up in the past few days at home. Of course, it’s always smart to have extra diapers, clothes and formula or breast milk with you as well.

When does the baby come back for a second visit?
The second visit is usually scheduled anywhere from a few days to a few weeks later. Much of this depends on how the baby is growing. If the baby has lost or is close to losing 10 percent of his or her birth weight, the baby may need to come in three to seven days later for a weight check. Some babies will have just one visit in between while others will be seen more often — it just depends on each baby’s unique needs.

Jennifer Nguyen, MD, is a BJC Medical Group family practice and pediatric physician. She sees patients at her offices at Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital and in Wentzville. To learn more, visit or schedule an appointment with Dr. Nguyen at 636.916.9615.