Track Your Baby's Health History

First feedings

“In the first couple of weeks it can be helpful to record feedings: how much the baby is eating and how frequently,” advises Peter Contini, M.D., a pediatrician in San Jose, California. “But for new parents who are busy and sleep-deprived, it can be hard to remember these things.”

He suggests keeping a simple log of how long and how often your baby has nursed, or if you’re using formula, how many ounces of it he has ingested. Also, keep track of the number of wet and soiled diapers he produces during the first 72 hours. “What goes in has to come out,” says Contini. “So, if your baby is peeing and pooping appropriately, more than likely he or she is getting enough breast milk or formula.”

Minimally, says Contini, your pediatrician is looking for evidence of a bowel movement in the first 24 hours and urination once in the first 24 hours, twice in the next 24 hours, and three times in the following 24 hours. Another occasion to track feedings and diaper changes: If your baby becomes ill, a simple record will be helpful to the doctor treating him.

Weight and height

Your infant’s growth—her weight and length, plus head circumference—is vital information for your pediatrician. “It’s one of the most important—if not the most important—pieces of information in a pediatrician’s chart,” says Contini. “A normal growth rate indicates adequate caloric intake and implies general good health.”

Your baby’s measurements are also important for dispensing medication to her if the need arises. If parents need assistance after hours and can provide accurate, recent weight information, explains Maurice J. Chianese, M.D., chief of pediatrics at Pro- HEALTH Care Associates in Lake Success, New York, a pediatrician can advise them on the correct dosage of medications over the telephone. If you’re already faithfully recording every ounce and inch in a baby book or on a growth chart of your own, simply keep the information (along with any other pertinent facts) where your spouse and a babysitter can find it.