Prepping Your Little One for a Trip to the Pediatrician

Calm your fears and your child’s anxiety with our tips.

Heading to the pediatrician? Whether it’s baby’s first check-up, or your toddler’s first “big kid” visit, allow me to impart some of my wisdom…

Personally, I’ve always felt that bringing a newborn to the pediatrician for the first time is both comforting and anxiety-provoking. And here’s why: it feels like I’m returning, for a few brief moments, to the experts who know way more than I do about everything when it comes to this baby stuff. I better not mess it up, I always think to myself. But now that I’ve been down this path three times before, I can assure you that the doctor is only a phone call away.

To be most prepared for your 10-minute session, here are some things I’ve learned:

Write down questions in advance. I used my trusty baby tracking app to remember his typical patterns of eating and sleeping as well as all the topics burning a hole in my brain. You can use paper.

Dress the baby simply. You’ll have to remove clothing down to the diaper for most of the appointment; choose something easy to remove with limited accessories. Bring in only one diaper to limit the number of items you’re juggling.

Plan ahead to comfort baby. Depending on your personal philosophies (and, of course, your baby’s preferences!), you may want to breastfeed during immunizations, bring a bottle, pop in a pacifier, or pre-dose with infant pain-killer. Do what works best for your babe and you’ll all be a little happier on the ride home.

Take notes.  Hopefully, the doctor will have answers to all your questions PLUS her own agenda of developmental guidance. You may be too in-the-moment to take it all in so it is terrific to refer to your notes later. Text messages to your partner might be enough of a reminder.

One big difference between babies and toddlers at the doctor’s office is that they may bring their own fears to the waiting room. I never had such a stressful time bringing a small child to the doctor as Whitney in this regard, but I can offer you two tactics that might work on a nervous child:

Play doctor at home. Have some fun with doctor kit toys, Doc McStuffin TV shows (12 minute episodes available on Netflix in a pinch), or even playing dress-up in scrubs or a lab coat.

Visit the office just to look around. Are there some waiting room fish that could be greeted on a neighborhood walk? No stress, we’re just saying “hey, fishies.”

Talk about why it matters. In our family, going for regular check-ups keeps your body strong and healthy. Boring, but true.

Bribery. Babies don’t need lollipops or trinkets but your two-year old might. Come prepared.

For whatever reason, my two-year old loves going to the doctor. He likes the plastic dinosaur prizes and missing preschool long enough to feel special. I wish you the same happy experience with your little one.