The six-week check-up
12:41 (GMT+2), Wed, 20 July 2011
By Xanet van Vuuren
- Your baby’s length, weight and head circumference will be measured. This is done to see if your little one is thriving and to see if he is following the initial growth percentiles (average rates of growth shown on a standardised growth chart). These figures are plotted on a growth chart, which will be used to check that your child’s growth measurements are on target from one visit to the next. Remember that if your baby was premature, there is a chance that he might be smaller than babies born closer to or on their due dates.
- Your baby’s head circumference will be measured and the doctor will check the fontanels (the soft spots on your baby’s head). These normally disappear within 12 to 18 months when the skull bones fuse together and they are safe to touch.
- The doctor will check your little one’s ears for fluid or infection.
- Dr Ranchod says that most units offer hearing tests in the maternity ward before your newborn baby is discharged so, in general, a paediatrician will only test your baby’s gross hearing startle response, that is, his response to loud noises.
- He or she will do a vision test to check your baby’s eyes for blocked tear ducts, to make sure that there are red reflexes present and to check for eye movements or squinting.
- He or she will examine your baby’s skin to see if he has any rashes, birthmarks or jaundice – a yellowish discolouration of the skin and eyes. The area around your little one’s belly button will be checked to see if it is healing well.
- He or she will listen to your baby’s heart and lungs to detect if there are any abnormal heart rhythms or sounds, or any breathing difficulties.
- Your little one will also be checked for muscle tone and strength, reflexes, responsiveness and any abnormal movements.
- The doctor will gently press on your baby’s abdomen to check for tenderness, enlarged organs or an umbilical hernia (the protrusion of an organ through the structure that normally contains or surrounds it).
- The doctor will also make sure that all your baby’s external genitalia are normal and that there are no lumps or any other signs of infection. If you have a little boy, he will be checked for descended testicles and a hydrocele (a fluid-filled sac around the testes in the scrotum).
- Your baby’s legs will be moved around to check his hip ligaments and joints.
- Lastly, your baby’s nose and throat will be examined to see if your little one has a high, arched palate or any nasal obstructions.
- At the 6-week visit the doctor will also check to see if your little one is smiling, as he should be doing at this age. The paediatrician will also check how you interact with your child and if you respond to his needs appropriately.
The three-month check-upxanet van vuuren, paediatricians, check-ups, baby