How your doctor's office is changing to keep babies safe

Your pediatrician is taking steps to keep you and your baby safe when you come in to the office for newborn and first-year visits. Here's what to expect, and how to prepare.

newborn visits post quarantine

Going to the doctor with a newborn or young baby can be stressful at baseline. Your 2-day-old poops the moment you get her in the car seat. You almost forget your diaper bag before heading out the door and can barely manage it and the stroller as you maneuver the elevator on the way into the clinic. Attempting a newborn or first-year visit to the pediatrician in a post-quarantine COVID-19 world can seem even more daunting.

As states reopen and as pediatricians' offices resume non-emergency visits, here's what you need to know as you head into the doctor's office with a baby for first-year or newborn checkups:

1. You may see your pediatrician on a screen for part or all of the visit.

In an effort to promote social distancing and limit the spread of COVID-19, many pediatric clinics are performing some or all parts of baby well visits via telehealth, though this is less common for early newborn visits.

If your office follows a split visit protocol, your doctor will meet with you on a virtual platform to perform the history portion of the visit. She'll ask about baby basics like feeding, sleep, elimination and behavior. In early visits postpartum, she will also discuss how you're handling your transition to motherhood and screen for postpartum depression and anxiety. There will be plenty of time for individual questions and concerns you have.

To complete the physical exam portion of the visit, including any measurements your child needs, you'll come briefly into the clinic. Sometimes, your child's pediatrician may have extra questions for you based on what they observe in the office and may, especially in the newborn period, need to do additional testing for issues like elevated bilirubin—a substance in the blood that can lead to jaundice in the early days—to make sure your baby is safe.

2. Your pediatrics office will still encourage you to come in for immunizations

While the medical community cares deeply about making sure you and your family don't contract COVID-19, we also know there are other serious conditions that could come to the forefront if not kept at bay during this time of crisis. It's important that we continue immunizing babies for dangerous diseases like polio and pertussis so we don't create new pandemics we can't control. Though it may seem like putting off these vaccines is no big deal, our immunization program is one of the most important ways we keep kids and their entire families well.

3. Your appointment might get moved...several times.

Post-quarantine, pediatric practices are finding creative ways to maintain the most protective environments for their sick and well patients with ever-changing community needs and limitations. As stay-at-home orders lift and neighborhoods reopen, practices are constantly re-assessing the ways they schedule patients and may, from time to time, move your appointment to assure you're treated in a safe environment that maximizes the time you spend with your provider.

4. Your child's pediatrician will be extra careful with you and your baby.

Pediatrician offices are following strict safety precautions to ensure their patients and their parents are safe. Many pediatric groups with multiple sites have implemented a well clinic and sick clinic model, where those coming for scheduled routine pediatrician appointments are seen in one location, and those who are worried about respiratory symptoms like cough and congestion are directed to another. Those with solo or small practices are also being especially careful with their patients to assure the safest clinic environments possible. This protects all patients but is especially important for our most vulnerable populations.

Even when there's not a worldwide pandemic, offices often reserve specific appointment times each day for newborns and babies to make sure they're isolated from other potentially ill patients.

5. You'll need to be prepared for extra screenings and specific protocols before you arrive and throughout your visit.

At my office, we call families before each visit to question them about any COVID-19 symptoms or exposure risk factors. Many offices check patient and parent temperatures prior to admittance, ask that all who attend the visit (over 2 years old) wear a mask and request that guests refrain from sitting in the lobby. We also only allow one parent to come to each visit per patient, except in the newborn period.

Physicians and staff members are required to wear masks throughout the clinic, practice social distancing amongst themselves, and to stay home if they have any potential COVID-19 symptoms. They're also frequently cleaning high-touch areas and limiting time with others in enclosed spaces. Call your child's pediatrician if you have questions about specific protocols they have in place.

While it's daunting to head out anywhere post-quarantine, and while the doctor's office may seem like an especially high-risk destination, pediatricians are taking extra precautions in the office, prioritizing virtual appointments when feasible, and making sure medical exams and immunizations are performed safely. Above all, they're making sure families feel confident and comfortable as they establish or reestablish medical care for their newborns and babies in the post-quarantine period.

Don't be nervous, new mamas. You've got this.

My village lives far away—but my Target baby registry helped them support me from afar

Virtual support was the next best thing to in-person hugs

They say you shouldn't make too many major life transitions at once. But when I was becoming a mama for the first time nearly five years ago, my husband and I also moved to a new town where we didn't know a soul, bought our first house and changed jobs.

To put it mildly, we didn't heed that advice. Luckily, our family and friends still made it feel like such a magical time for us by supporting our every move (literal and otherwise) from afar. They showered us with love through a virtual baby shower (expectant parents nowadays can relate!) featuring the unwrapping of gifts they were able to ship straight to me from my Target registry.

Here's one piece of advice I did take: I registered at Target so I could take advantage of the retailer's benefits for registrants, which include a welcome kit valued over $100, a universal registry function and more. Fast-forward a few years and Target has made the registration perks even better for expectant parents: As of August 2020, they've added a Year of Exclusive Deals, which gives users who also sign up for Target Circle a full year of savings after baby is born on all those new mama essentials, from formula to diapers and beyond.

Honestly, even without the significant perks of a free welcome kit with more than $100 in coupons, additional 15% off coupons to complete the registry and a full year of free returns, registering at Target wasn't a hard sell for me: Even though the experience of shopping for baby items was new, shopping with Target felt like returning home to me… and the comfort of that was such a gift.

And of course, Target's registry plays a vital role right now, as expectant parents everywhere are being forced to cancel in-person baby showers and navigate early parenthood without the help of a hands-on village. A registry like this represents a safe way for communities to come through for new parents. If you're anything like me (or any of the other mamas here at Motherly), you certainly have emotional ties and fond memories associated with Target.

What to register for at Target was also an easy talking point as I began to connect with moms in my new community. I will always remember going on a registry-building spree with my next door neighbor, who had young children of her own. As we walked the aisles of Target back in 2015, she suggested items to add… and we laid the foundation for what has since become one of my most cherished friendships.

Even as I made connections in my new hometown, I was nervous that expecting my first baby wouldn't feel as special as if I were near family and friends. But my loved ones exceeded all expectations by adding the most thoughtful notes to gifts. They hosted a beautiful virtual baby shower and even encouraged me to keep the registry going after my baby made his debut and new needs arose.

In the years since, "community" has taken on a wonderfully complex new meaning for me… and, in these times of social distancing, for the rest of the world. I've come to cherish my newfound friends in our local community alongside those long-time friends who are scattered around the county and my virtual mama friends.

Now, as my friends' families grow, I'm so grateful that I can show them the same love and support I felt during my first pregnancy. I sing the praises of Target's baby registry—especially in light of the pandemic, since I know mamas can do everything from a distance thanks to Target's website and the added benefit of getting trusted reviews and helpful registry checklists.

And now that I'm on the gift-buying side of the equation, I've found new joy in picking thoughtful gifts for my friends. (Because goodness knows Target has something for everyone!)

For my friend who is a fellow runner, I teamed up with a few others to give the jogging stroller she had on her registry.

For my friend who is a bookworm, I helped her start her baby's library with a few books that are also well-loved in our home.

For other friends, I've bundled together complete "sets" with everything they need for bathing or feeding their children.

I know from my own experience that, yes, the registry purchases are so appreciated, but the thoughtfulness and the support they represent means even more. Because although my village may have been distant, the support they showed me was the next best thing to in-person hugs.

Start your own Target Baby Registry here to experience a Year of Benefits including a Year of Exclusive Deals through Target Circle to enjoy for a full year following your baby's arrival, a year of free returns, two 15% off completion coupons and a free welcome kit ($100 value).

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


10 photos to take on baby’s first day that you'll cherish forever

You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

Here are the 10 photos you will want to take on baby's first day.

Keep reading Show less