Life with a newborn can be challenging, but there's something so sweet about a brand new baby...the smell of her head, the sweet little feet and hands...it's just delicious! And that baby is totally dependent on you...her parent! It's up to you to make the best decisions for her in this first year of life, and that includes choosing the right doctors during the first twelve months. If you're living with a newborn, you've probably been to the pediatrician for general check ups, but you may not have thought about the other professionals you should be seeing. Here are four doctors a baby should see during their first year.
Primary care physician
A baby’s primary care physician is usually a pediatrician, family doctor, or nurse practitioner. They will track the child’s growth and development, administer vaccinations, treat various illnesses and injuries, and advise the parents on ways to keep their baby healthy. Parents should generally first take their newborn to their primary care doctor about a week after leaving the hospital. During their baby’s first year, they should also visit the primary care doctor when the baby is two months, four months, six months, nine months, and twelve months.
Both the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend taking a baby to their first dental appointment six months after their first tooth emerges or after their first birthday, whichever is earlier. Tooth decay can occur at any age, and the dentist will treat it. Taking the baby to the dentist from a young age will help them get used to it and reduce any fear. The dentist can also teach the parents how to take good care of their child’s teeth. When looking for a dentist for your child, it is essential to find dental care services that offer pediatric care, or a family dentist, that can better evaluate your child’s dental needs.
A child should see an optometrist or ophthalmologist for the first time by the time they are a year old. It is especially important for the baby to have their eyes checked if a parent or sibling has a serious eye condition. The eye doctor will be able to spot developing problems and treat them–and some conditions are easier to treat in an infant than in an older child. One example is amblyopia or “lazy eye,” a condition in which one eye is weaker than the other. Untreated amblyopia can lead to vision loss in the weaker eye, but an eye doctor can recommend treatments to help strengthen the weaker eye.
Child development specialist
A child development specialist is a medical professional who can assess a child’s physical, cognitive, behavioral, and social development. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a child have their first assessment for general development when they are nine months old. Parents may also request assessments if they are worried that their child is late in sitting up, for example. If the specialist does find a problem, they will refer the child to an early intervention program, a type of therapy designed for children under three years old. Doctors have found that the sooner a child with developmental problems like autism receives help, the better the outcome.
The above medical professionals can take care of a child’s general health needs. There are also children’s hospitals and various specialists who can care for a child with a serious condition. A pediatric ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor can help a child with recurring ear infections, for example. The primary care physician will refer the baby to any needed specialists.
Having a newborn can definitely be overwhelming, but by building a strong health team for your baby, you'll set her up for a lifetime of healthy living! What specialists do you see with your little one?
About the Author:
Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure. You can connect with her on Facebook right here and Twitter right here.