Your First Visit to a Naturopathic Pediatrician

healthy foundations and a natural approach during baby’s first year
naturopathic baby first visit
Photo: Elizabeth Cherevaty

Watching your new baby grow, reach milestones, and experience a multitude of firsts are some of the most joyful moments of parenthood! For new parents, baby’s health through every stage of development is top-of-mind. Canadians are increasingly choosing more natural and preventive approaches to their health, and baby’s first year is a prime time for families to seek out the safest, gentlest options available for both mom and baby.

What Can You Learn from a Naturopathic Pediatrician?

As experts in natural and preventive medicine, naturopathic doctors (NDs) focused on pediatrics can offer unique expertise to help you set a strong, healthy foundation during baby’s first year. Here’s what to expect at your baby’s first naturopathic visit.

Take Your Time

The first difference you’ll likely notice between a conventional medical and a naturopathic visit is that there’s more time: Baby’s first visit will be about an hour. This allows plenty of space for baby to get used to the environment, to fully review any questions you may have, and to get an initial plan started. (Plus, interruptions for feeding, changing, or settling baby are no worries!)

Whole Person Care

An important principle of naturopathic medicine is to assess and treat the whole personencompassing the physical, mental, emotional, environmental, and social determinants of health—starting from birth (or even before birth!). And since maternal and infant health are inextricable, the ND will ask about your health during pregnancy, your birth experience, and how life with baby is going so far.

naturopathic baby doctor visit
Photo: Elizabeth Cherevaty

The Well Baby Checkup

As early as eight days after birth, baby’s first naturopathic visit will consist of two parts: a discussion of baby’s health history starting from pregnancy to present, including any specific concerns you’d like to review; and a well baby checkup that assesses baby’s growth, development, and physical health.

Systems to be assessed

How assessment is made

Cardiovascular health

Listen to baby’s heart and lungs.

Digestive health

Listen to baby’s tummy, gently assess areas of the abdomen to screen for tenderness, tightness, or excess gas; look for signs of tongue tie.

Skin health

Look for any redness, dryness, or rashes.

Neurological health

Check baby’s reflexes, muscle tone, and eye contact.

Growth and development

Weigh baby and measure height and head circumference, plot on growth chart, review developmental milestones.

Is My Baby Growing Enough?

Infant growth charts are used to track markers of baby’s growth in their first year. The most common growth charts doctors refer to are from the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and reflect measurements for formula-fed babies—which tend to be greater in size than exclusively breastfed babies. Growth charts from the World Health Organization (WHO) reflect data for breastfed babies. The “curves” used in growth charts are based on a statistical model called a bell curve, in which all results between the 3rd and 97th percentiles are considered normal. Doctors become concerned and follow up is needed if a baby’s growth rate falls outside of the bolded curve sections, called standard deviations.

Does My Baby Need Supplements?

Breastfed babies should be given a vitamin D supplement, with a dosage ranging from 400 IU to 1000 IU daily. Additional supplements might include an infant-specific probiotic to support baby’s digestion and immune development; and once solid foods are introduced, a brain-boosting supplement of DHA, such as a children’s fish oil. Additional iron, the most common micronutrient deficiency for babies and young children may also be considered. Be sure to discuss any supplements with your child’s naturopathic doctor. 

For more on nutrient supplements for your little one, read Dr. Leslie's breakdown here.

Root Cause

Although many health conditions are common in baby’s first year, the presence of symptoms alerts the ND to look for and treat their root causes. Recognizing that babies have an innate capacity for healing, naturopathic recommendations will be focused on restoring resources the body needs to heal, such as nutrients or rest; and removing obstacles to healing, such as stress or inflammation.

For example, colic is a common condition that causes discomfort for babies, and stress for parents. Rather than waiting for the baby to “outgrow” colic or providing a one-size-fits all treatment, a naturopathic doctor will look for all of the possible contributing factors in order to arrive at personalized treatment suggestions. Food sensitivity (which can even be delivered via breastmilk!), improper latch, and digestive or musculoskeletal imbalances are all factors that can be addressed.

naturopathic baby doctor visit
Photos: Elizabeth Cherevaty

Practicing Prevention

Naturopathic doctors are trained to spot potential disease development along a continuum and address them before they intensify. Taking postpartum fatigue as an example, while a certain amount of sleep disruption is common in the first several weeks with baby, part of preventing postpartum depression is addressing risk factors in mothers who continue to experience sleep loss, fatigue, or anxiety during the months since baby’s birth. Baby’s first naturopathic visit includes a review of mom’s wellbeing and any referrals that may be needed for more focused care for herself. With the connectedness of the mother-infant “dyad”, what’s good for mom is good for baby, and vice versa.

Taking a preventive approach can also mean wellness visits for baby regularly and/or any time a new concern arises. Your questions about breastfeeding and infant nutrition, introducing solid foods, supplements for baby, preventing allergies, strengthening immunity, and promoting good sleep (for all of you!) are welcomed.

Integrative Infant Care

Whether your baby’s first naturopathic visit is at eight days or eight months, naturopathic care works well in coordination with that of baby’s other healthcare professionals. You never have to choose between naturopathic and medical care; in fact, you’re encouraged to obtain as much support and information as you want and need to make informed choices. Naturopathic doctors are trained to refer patients whenever care is needed outside their practice focus or scope and can refer you to professionals in other complementary fields such as lactation consultants, maternal mental health counsellors, or pediatric-focused manual therapists (think massage therapy for little ones!) to best optimize outcomes for baby and family.

You may also enjoy: Top Nutrient Supplements for Healthy ChildrenEstablishing the Infant Microbiome, and Newborn Sleep Patterns

For references visit