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Caring For Your
Newborn Baby

What Happens at the Hospital

APGAR and Screening Tests

Your new baby will go through certain tests and procedures after he's born to make sure he's healthy.

Right after delivery

APGAR test

The APGAR test - your baby's first test - will happen when your baby is between 1-5 minutes old.

The APGAR test is a scoring system. It helps health care professionals tell if your baby has any urgent health concerns.

Your baby will be given a score out of 10 based on:

Activity - muscle tone
Pulse - heart rate
Grimace - making faces/reflexes
Appearance - skin colour
Respirations - breathing

Your health care provider will do your baby's APGAR test.

APGAR score meaning
Most babies score a 7 or higher by 5 minutes. By that time a baby has had a chance to get used to the air and clear his lungs of fluid.

APGAR Score Meaning


Baby needs only routine post-delivery care


Baby might need careful monitoring right after birth

Under 4

Baby needs special post-delivery care

Don't worry too much about your baby's APGAR score. It's rare for babies to score a perfect 10, and it generally doesn't predict a baby's long-term health.

First assessment

newborn baby being weighed

Following his APGAR test, your health care provider will do a "first assessment" by checking and recording your baby's:

  • Weight and length
  • Head and chest circumference (measurement around head and chest)
  • Temperature
  • Pulse (heart rate) and breathing rate

These checks will be repeated and recorded while you're in the hospital.

newborn getting eye ointment

Eye ointment and Vitamin K

After delivery your baby will be treated with eye ointment and vitamin K.

Eye ointment
Your health care provider will apply an ointment to your baby's eyes.This ointment has erythromycin, an antibiotic that helps stop eye infections.

Vitamin K
Your health care provider will also give your baby a needle that has vitamin K. This will help his blood clot normally. Baby receiving Vitamin K NeedleThe needle will be injected into his thigh muscle and takes only a moment.

Blood Tests

Between 24-72 hours after your baby is born, your health care provider will take a tiny blood sample from your baby's heel (heel prick). This sample will be used to screen (test) for different conditions.

Read more about newborn screening tests.

During or right after your hospital stay

Hearing test
All babies born in an Ontario hospital have a hearing test before or soon after they leave the hospital.

During a hearing test an ear piece is placed in your baby's ear. Soft sounds are played through the ear piece, and then the ear's response is measured and recorded.

This test is quick, easy and comfortable for your baby, and you'll get the results immediately.

Don't worry if your baby doesn't pass the screening. Loud noises, movement, or even fluid in your baby's ear can affect the results. However, if your baby doesn't pass the first screening, be sure to have him tested again.

Please contact your local Infant Hearing Program location if:

  • You have a home birth.
  • Your baby doesn't get hearing screening done in the hospital.
  • Your baby needs a follow-up hearing test.

Baby's First Check-up

Your health care provider will tell you what to expect the first few days after your baby is born.

Baby Can't/Won't Breastfeed?

Visit your nearest Region of Peel-Public Health Breastfeeding Clinic or your doctor as soon as possible.

Take your baby for his first check-up 2-3 days after delivery. Book this appointment while you're in the hospital or as soon as you get home.

During this appointment your health care provider will ask you some questions, such as:

  • How are you and your baby doing?
  • How is baby eating and sleeping?
  • How often is your baby urinating (peeing)?
  • How many bowel movements (poos) is he having?

Your health care provider will also:

  • Check your baby's physical appearance.
  • Test your baby's hearing, vision and reflexes.
  • Measure his head size, length and weight.
  • Discuss the basic milestones babies reach as they grow.
  • Answer any questions you may have.

More newborn testing information

The Hospital for Sick Children's AboutKidsHealth

Nemours’ KidsHealth

Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care

At the Hospital | Preparing For Baby | The First Few Days | What Your Newborn Will Look Like
Taking Care of Your Newborn | Taking Care of You and Your Partner

Revised: Thursday February 21 2019

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Click to Play APGAR test video