Finding a Doctor for Your Baby
How does prenatal care affect my baby?
With good prenatal care, you can reduce your baby’s risk for health problems. To have a healthy pregnancy and baby:
- See a healthcare provider all during your pregnancy.
- Eat healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, low-fat milk, eggs, cheese, and whole grains.
- Take good care of your health and exercise as advised by your healthcare provider.
- Don’t drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes or take drugs.
- Have your baby checked by a healthcare provider right after birth.
Good care during pregnancy includes regular prenatal exams. At each visit your healthcare provider will check to make sure that you and the baby are healthy. Regular visits can help you and your provider prevent possible problems. They can also help your provider find and treat any problems early.
When should I find a doctor for my baby?
You should find a doctor for your baby about 3 months before your expected delivery date. If you belong to a health plan, check the plan's list of primary care providers. You can also ask for referrals from friends, coworkers, or pharmacists. Local medical societies usually have a referral service and will give you names of doctors in your area.
A pediatrician is an expert on the physical, emotional, and social health of children from birth through the teen years. A family doctor sees both children and adults.
Schedule an interview to meet and get to know the provider. Make sure that your baby's doctor is someone that you feel comfortable with. Ask about breast-feeding, parenting, who covers for the doctor, and any other questions that you have.
Here are examples of the kinds of questions your baby’s doctor can answer for you:
- How long will it be before a mother's milk comes “in”?
Human milk starts to be made in small amounts after about 4 months of pregnancy. This type of milk is called “colostrum”. It is very high in energy.
For first-time mothers, a big increase in milk production usually happens about 3 or 4 days after the baby is born. This is also known as the milk “coming in”. Mothers who have had children before usually notice the surge of milk production 2 or 3 days after delivery. A difficult delivery can slow milk production by a day or more.
- How can I learn what a baby should do and when he or she should do it?
Your baby's doctor can tell you what kind of activities and behaviors to expect at different ages. Your baby will learn and develop skill in movement, vision, language, dealing with emotions, and relating to people. Developments in each of these areas are referred to as developmental milestones. Ask your pediatrician for more information if you would like to learn more about your baby's development.
- Can a newborn be “spoiled”?
No. Meeting your newborn’s needs quickly and gently helps your baby learn that the world is predictable. This is a first step in helping your child develop good self-esteem. For the first several months of life, your baby cannot be spoiled.
- When does teaching a baby to cooperate begin?
A great time to teach your baby that he or she has a cooperative role to play is when the diaper is being changed. This is important when your baby develops the ability to roll over from back to front. Praise your baby for lying still on his or her back while the diaper is changed. Try not to distract your baby from wanting to roll over, such as by playing with a stuffed animal or mobile above the changing table.
- What is the safest sleep position for a newborn baby?
Being placed on the back is the safest sleep position for a baby. A substantially lower rate of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) has been found when a baby is laid down to sleep on the back. By the time a baby can roll over from the back to the front (at about 6 months of age), the risk of SIDS is much lower, so a parent does not need to turn the baby over if the baby has rolled over by him- or herself.
- Are vaccines safe for my baby?
Vaccinating your baby is an important and good choice. Vaccines are much safer than taking a chance that your child will be exposed to a disease and get the infection. There are many diseases which can be prevented by vaccination. Vaccines are given at different times of a child’s life to protect them when the risk is greatest. Talk to your doctor for more information about vaccines.
Choosing the right healthcare provider gives you peace of mind. As a parent, you should feel comfortable asking any questions that you have. You should also feel sure that your baby will receive good care.
Written by Robert Brayden, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, University of Colorado.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2011-01-07
Last reviewed: 2011-01-07
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes
available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical
evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a health care professional.