Making The Most of Those Monthly Baby Checkups

By: Carolyn Joana

Even healthy babies spend a lot of time at the doctors clinic. Well-baby checkups, which are scheduled every month or two during the first year, allow the doctor to keep track of your baby's growth and development, ensuring that everything's on target. But they're also the perfect time for you to ask the long list of questions you've accumulated since your last visit, and to walk away with a wealth ot advice on how to keep your 'well baby' well.

To make sure you make the most of a well-baby visit:

Time it right. When scheduling appointments, try to steer clear of nap time, lunchtime and any time your baby's typically fussy. And go for an empty waiting room, avoiding peak hours at the doctor's surgery, if possible. Mornings are usually quieter because older children are in school so, in general, a pre-lunch appointment will beat the four o'clock rush. And if you feel you'll need extra time (you have even more questions and concerns than usual), ask for it so it can be scheduled into the visit. That way, you won't feel quite as hurried.

Fill 'er up. A hungry patient is a cranky and uncooperative patient. So show up for your well-baby visits with a well-fed baby (once finger foods have been started, you can also bring a snack along for the waiting room). Keep in mind, however, that overfilling the tank just before the appointment may mean baby will be ripe for spitting once the exam begins.

Dress for undressing success. When choosing baby's wardrobe for the visit, think easy-on, easy-off. Skip outfits with lots of tiny buttons or poppers that take forever to do and undo, or snug clothes that are difficult to pull on and off. And don't be to quick to undress; if your baby hates being naked, wait until the exam is about to begin before stripping down.

Write it down Remember those two hundred questions you wanted to ask the doctor? You wont, once you've spent twenty minutes in the waiting room and another twenty in the exam room trying to keep your baby (and yourself) calm. So instead of relying on your memory, bring a list you can read oft. Pack a pen, too, so you can write down the answers to those questions, plus any other advice and instructions the doctor dispenses. You can also use it to record baby's height, weight, immunizations received that visit, and so on.

Make baby comfortable. Few babies enjoy the poking and prodding doctor's exam - but most enjoy even less when it takes place on a cold, uncomfortable exam table. Ask the doctor if he or she can perform most of the exam while baby's on your lap.

Trust your instincts. Your doctor sees your baby only once a month, you see your baby every day. Which means that you may notice subtle things the doctor doesn't. If you feel something isn't right with your child - even if you're not sure what it is - make sure the doctor knows. Remember, you don't need a medical degree to be a valuable partner in your baby's health care. Sometimes the keenest diagnostic tool is a parent's intuition.

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