What are Emotional Baby Checkups?

Does my child need Emotional Well Baby Checkups? Why?

Research findings necessitate that doctors and parents rethink traditional developmental milestones beyond the familiar benchmarks such as the onset of crawling, walking and uttering first words. Parenting a child during these first few years of life is no longer as simple as changing diapers, breastfeeding or finding a safe crib and car seat.

Emotional Baby Checkups aim to evaluate your child across several important psychological dimensions including:

  • Language Development and Communication
  • Personality and Temperament
  • Social and Emotional Functioning
  • Secure Attachment
  • Motor Development
  • Attention, Cognitive Development and Activity Level

Ultimately, these Checkups aim to promote more competent and joyful relations between children and their caregivers.

What can I expect when I bring my child for an Emotional Well Baby Checkup?

Your child will be observed and evaluated with you present, in a confidential, home-like setting. Your participation in the evaluation can provide valuable information about your child’s emotional health status. Additionally, by observing you and your child’s interaction together, the clinician can offer you parent coaching suggestions or exercises, should you be comfortable with that.

The extent of a parent or caregiver’s participation in the Emotional Baby Checkup will depend on your level of comfort.   For example, if a parent or caretaker desires to learn more about his or her own personality, style of interpersonal attachment, has concerns about juggling work demands with parenting responsibilities,  fears succumbing to post partum depression, or  has questions about the exposure of their child to tablets, smart phones and other technology, the Checkup can address such matters.  The  Checkup can even assist with planning when to best take maternity and/or paternity leave and for how long...

You may be an excellent parent when your child is a particular age, but parenting demands during the first two years of your child’s life change rapidly and coaching can be necessary or beneficial for most parents.  Well over 50% of brain development is completed by 24 months of age, a percentage likely approximating 70 to 75%.  Although Dr. Pamela does not endorse the construct of "resilience" in childhood, she does believe that if there is any period of human development where resilience may be facilitated, it would be during the first two years of life.  More knowledge of the complexity of typical infant development elucidates how some very early milestones such as those having to do with visual scanning must be in place on time, before other milestones occur.  When these early milestones are absent or incomplete, subsequent milestones will likely be adversely affected as the sequence of developmental mini accomplishments is built rapidly and in a specific order.  Babies in households where more than one language is spoken are often at an advantage as the bilingual brain can result in greater ability to be a flexible problem solver.  Nevertheless, consultation is sometimes needed when several languages are spoken in the same home.

DO NOT EXPECT an Emotional Baby Checkup to assist with PARENT CUSTODY BATTLES or qualification for DISABILITY FUNDING! The Checkups explicitly do not serve this purpose!  Participants should not expect a definitive diagnosis from participation in the Checkup.  If you believe your child may suffer from a  developmental disability,  the Checkup may discern this.  Please be aware that this is not a primary goal of the checkup. The Checkup is designed to assess across important psychological dimensions and promote emotional health and competent, joyful parenting. 

If there is a concern about your child having a specific developmental disability, you will be given one or more referrals to other professionals.   Referrals will also be given if a parent or caregiver is in need of insurance based outpatient or inpatient behavioral health services that cannot be accomodated at Serenity or if a caregiver requests a referral to another clinician.

Who should participate?

*Pregnant women and pregnant couples

*Ideally all children between the ages of zero & 24 months

*Primary caregivers or parents who seek the best for their child’s emotional health and strive to parent their young child competently, successfully and joyfully

*Parents who are among the worried well with our current autism epidemic, zika viral threat or caregivers who must confront unacceptably long wait lists for evaluation by professionals of various disciplines

*Professionals, schools or religious institutions who desire consultation, education or training to stay current in their curriculum and care optimally for infants and toddlers

The majority of pregnancies are not planned, but once a decision has been made to bring a pregnancy to full term, the planning should begin. This planning should ideally involve Emotional Well Baby Checkups, even before the birth of a child.  Considerable brain development takes place in-utero!

When should I bring my child in for a checkup?

Don’t wait to bring your child in, unless your budget permits only one visit a year. For those caregivers who are restricted to one visit a year for financial or other compelling reasons, nine-months and seventeen-months of age are recommended times to make an appointment for your child.  However, if your child's personal history indicates the need for an earlier contact with a psychologist, don't wait to schedule your baby at 9 months of age.  For those who can afford these services frequently, the best time to start is during the pregnancy.  One reason for this early start is the monumental brain development that begins in the fetal period.

If there is a family history of ADHD or depression, coaching suggestions or clinical intervention may be quite helpful during your child’s first two years of life. Waiting until your child is older may result in a greater likelihood your child may be prescribed daily medication, or need many sessions of costly therapy to improve behavioral problems.

We are conveniently located just off interstate 5 near the Del Mar racetrack and fairgrounds.

The parking deck ceiling is unfortunately very low. If you drive a taller than standard SUV or tall vehicle, you may wish to park on the street and simply walk into the building at the parking garage entrance.

There is a slope to walk up if you park on the street, but street parking is ample and free. Parking at the very top of the parking deck is free. There is an elevator or stairs to descend one level to the ground floor from the top of the parking deck.

The practice space, suite 110 Y is handicap accessible, and opens to a courtyard with a table and benches on the ground floor. If you are early, it’s best to wait there or in your vehicle.