Baby's First Checkups


Checkups are key to good health for everyone, including babies. In fact, they're so important, a newborn's checkup happens just one minute after delivery.

This checkup gives babies what's called an Apgar score. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, this score helps determine whether a baby may need any extra medical care. Apgar scores are based on the baby's heart rate, breathing, muscle tone, reflex response and color. A score of 7 or higher suggests a baby is very healthy. But a lower score doesn't always mean that your baby has a problem. The apgar score is calculated again five minutes after birth, and according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 98 percent of babies core a 7 or higher by this time.

Within the first day of life, your baby will get a complete head-to-toe checkup, and usually after 24 hours, he or she will also have screening tests on a small blood sample (a few drops from a prick of the heel). These newborn screening tests can find health problems that are treatable but may not be immediately evident. Fortunately, most babies receive a clean bill of health, says the March of Dimes.

One test looks for an inherited disorder (phenylketonuria, or PKU) in which babies are undable to process an amino acid called phenylalanine, which is present in most foods. When phenylalanine builds up in a baby's blood, it can damage brain tissue.

Another test looks for a disorder in which babies are born with too little thryroid hormone. This condition can slow growth and brain development. Fortunately, once identifed early, both of these disorders can be treated before problems occur. Doctors may test for other disorders and do hearing tests as well. All of the tests are intended to help give your baby a good start in life. If you have questions about these tests, ask. You'll feel more comfortable in you understand what is being done and why.

Is my baby getting enough milk?

If you're breastfeeding, you may want some assurance that your baby is getting enough milk. Concerns about their babies; milk intake are common among breastfeeding moms. It's understandable. When breastfeeding, you can't tell how much milk the baby is actually getting.

There are things that indicate a baby is getting enough,however. Weight is one of them. It's not unusual for babies to lose some weight shortly after birth. One the first week has passed, your baby should gain weight consistently.

Other signs of adequate nutrition include:

  • Your baby acts satisfied after being fed.
  • Your baby has at least 6 diapers daily (by the 5th to 7th days).
  • Your baby has two or more stools per day. After 5 to 7 days, the stools should be yellowish and loose, with small curds.

If you have concerns about breast feeding, be sure to talk to your doctor.

Notice: The information contained on this webpage is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. The Expert Knowledge Network and Saint Francis Healthcare Campus assume no responsibility for how this information is used. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Nothing contained on this page is intended to be for medical diagnosis or treatment.