When you have your first baby, they unfortunately aren’t born with a handbook. Even if they were, every child is different and may not follow exactly what would be “outlined.” As a first-time parent you are going to have lots of questions and those questions won’t stop until your child is grown. You may first start asking questions about milestones your child should be reaching in their early years, but will eventually transition to questions on when you should bring up topics like the birds and the bees.
Having all these questions is completely normal and remember, there is no such thing as a silly question when it comes to your child’s health and development. Pediatricians ask a lot of questions during their examinations, but they also want to answer any questions you have. To help maximize the time during your visit, prepare and write down your questions ahead of time then prioritize the top three questions you want the pediatrician to help you answer and navigate through during your visit.
A first-time visit for the parents
Prior to that very first pediatrician visit with your new bundle of joy, set up a meet and greet with your pediatrician and the team from their office. This first visit is a great way to understand the practice, determine if you have the same shared beliefs and see if your parenting values align with how they practice. You may also want to gain an understanding for how they handle after-hour calls or same-day sick appointments, along with where they have hospital privileges, if they are board-certified and how they continue their training.
If you are a soon-to-be parent, you can search for local pediatric providers by using this tool from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Newborn - 3 months
There can be a lot of excitement during this time, along with lots of growth, emotions and sleep deprivation. In those first 30 days the three biggest activities are: eating, sleeping and pooping! With time those jerky first motor movements of theirs will become more purposeful as they lift their head and chest. Their vision will improve, and they will focus on faces and make eye contact rather than scanning a room. For a first-time parent, lots of questions may come to mind during these new month’s regarding development, so ask those questions regardless of whether you feel they are silly.
Questions you never thought to ask your pediatrician:
How do I know if my baby is crying too much and it's not because they are hungry or wet? How can I help soothe them?
Are there any parent groups or community resources you recommend that can help support me as a parent?
What do I do if I have a question about my baby's health or development during non-clinic hours?
When can my baby travel? On a plane? Out of the country?
Infants to 1 year
A lot happens in your baby’s first year, but even more change is coming.The babbling has begun, they are able to sit up on their own and take a few steps while holding your hand. You have noticed development in their motor skills, as well as their social-emotional and cognitive development. This is the age where they are becoming curious learners and love to explore, now is the time to let them.
Questions to ask:
How will I know if my infant is meeting all of their growth and development milestones?
When should I start child-proofing the home?
Are there other milk alternatives you recommend at age 1 if I don't want to give my child cow's milk?
Is it weird to want a break from my kids?
Is organic food the best? Can I feed them what the rest of my family eats?
As you navigate through the early toddler years, you may notice a new and constant word in your child’s vocabulary…NO. As their vocabulary increases, so will their want for independence in motor skills with less help from parents. This newfound independence may result in opinions, resistance and more meltdowns.
Questions you may not think to ask your pediatrician:
How can I encourage my toddler to eat more than just crackers and fries?
What do I do if my child doesn't want to nap anymore?
Is there something wrong if my toddler is refusing to toilet train?
Seems like everything leads to a big meltdown, how do I discipline a toddler, so they stay safe?
How do I get my child to stop sucking their thumb or pacifier?
What should I look for when choosing a preschool?
Preschool to young elementary (4-9)
As elementary school draws near, you may notice your child’s natural cognitive abilityis continuing to develop and grow. Your child is now a social butterfly every time you go to the grocery store or out in public. They recognize letters, words and are engaging with others in conversation. During this age also comes the cognitive ability to understand others feelings, rules in a game and consequences when things aren’t right.
What are some activities we can engage our preschooler in daily to help prepare them for school?
When is it too early to start sports/extracurricular activities?
What is the best first sport for kids?
How much physical activity does my child need?
How will I know if my child needs to be evaluated for an academic learning disability? Or evaluated for an IEP?
How do I teach my child how to use the internet safely?
How do I help my child prepare for disaster/intruder drills at school?
During these early tween years, you maynotice early signs of puberty and wanting to constantly be with friends. As your tween gains more social exposure, you will noticea desire for more independence. Absolutely allow these independent moments but just remember, as they want more privacy, they are still too young to make critical independent decisions on their own.
Questions to consider asking:
Will I be able to tell if my child is a victim of bullying? Of if they are bullying?
How do I get my child to open up more when I ask them how they are feeling/thinking?
When is the best time to start having conversations about puberty?
How do I help my child navigate through difficult relationships with peers?
I want my child to feel socially connected to their peers but also protect them from the dangers of social media, what's the right balance?
If you feel like a lot changed when your children were babies, more is about to change during their adolescence. With rapid body changes come changes in moods and emotions that may result in anxiety or depression. You may notice they are realizing and determining their sexual identity and have an interest in intimate relationships. Your teen now wants to spend all their time with their circle of friends, girlfriend or boyfriend rather than their family. This newfound curiosity they have developed could potentially expose them to substances like drugs and alcohol. As teens become more independent, so will their visits with the Pediatrician.
Parents, don’t be surprised if the doctor asks you to step out of the room for a few questions. Rather than this being a shock to both you and your child, start the conversation early so your child is prepared for this one on one interaction.
How do I help my child develop more skills in independent decision making?
How do I coach my teen to cultivate their emotional and mental well-being?
What do I do if my child is trying to hurt themselves or thinking about suicide?
What should I be doing to help them transition into adulthood?
How do I help my teen get through their first break-up?
My child is a school athlete, what do I need to know about supplements?
How will I know if my child is using drugs/alcohol?
As your child gets older, the way you parent is going to evolve. This is all normal. Just know thathow you parent will change basedon what your child needsduring each season of life.