The first pediatrician appointment is often the inaugural adventure outside the house as a mommy-baby pair. There may be tears of frustration in the waiting room. Tears of exhaustion in the exam room. And tears of relief on the car ride home. Plus, your baby might cry too! Even the most calm-natured newborns can find a thing or two to cry about when their day is upended by a doctor’s visit. And while this overwhelming experience may seem daunting (that’s OK!); take comfort in this rite of passage. You’ve made it this far! And here are a few tips to assuage any anxiety and make the first trip to the pediatrician smooth sailing.
TIME IS ON YOUR SIDE (YOU HOPE)
Aim to see the doc right after a nap so your little one isn’t overtired, suggests parenting author Susan Heim. Another trick is to ask for the very first appointment of the day, which is when the doctor’s schedule is more likely to be running on time—meaning less waiting time for you. If you have an appointment later in the day or at an inconvenient time, you can call ahead to check if the doctor’s schedule is running on time and adjust your plan as needed.
THE BEST LAID PLANS
When possible, feed your sweet pea right before you head to the doctor, Susan says. Because luck will have it, the one time the doc’s running early will be the time you’re rushed to get in a feeding. It also helps to get a sitter for any older children, so you can channel all your energy into the appointment instead of explaining to the 6-year-old what a tongue depressor is (and isn’t) for. Write down any questions for the doc in advance. You may feel overwhelmed and exhausted during the checkup, and having questions written down beforehand will help you remember the things you wanted to ask two days ago.
PACK SMART, NOT LIGHT
Many doctor’s offices can be cold, so Susan suggests dressing your baby in layers to keep warm. Just be sure it’s all comfy, easy-off clothing, says Nina Spears of The Baby Chick, because you’ll have to undress them for the exam. It also helps to use a baby carrier or car seat to transport your tiny cargo, keeping hands free for paperwork. Bring extra everything—clothes, wipes, diapers, pacifiers, toys (Susan suggests skipping the germ-riddled toys in the waiting room). Finally, bring any hospital paperwork with information about the baby, such as birth weight, height, or Apgar score, so it’s less for you to recall when the doc asks.
Your parenting skills aren’t measured by how much your baby cries. Don’t worry if your bundle of joy is wailing—it’s just background noise to the pediatricians and nurses. They won’t bat an eyelash at tons of tears, says Susan. Even if they’re your own.