Updated on January 26th, 2024 // by Katie Griffin
It is important for all babies and children to be seen regularly by their healthcare provider, even when they’re not sick. Consistent healthcare is an important part of good health. Well child visits help ensure that your baby is growing and developing properly and that any problems are found early and can be treated effectively. But you may be wondering How often should I take my baby to the doctor? Let’s look at the recommended schedule for well visits, and also things you may discuss at doctor visits.
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The Importance of Well-Baby Visits
First off, regular check-ups, often called well-baby visits, are crucial. These appointments are not just for when your baby is ill; they are important opportunities to track your baby’s growth and development, get vaccinations, and address any concerns you might have.
AAP Well Child Visit Schedule
So, aside from sick visits, how often do you do well child checks? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the following schedule for well-baby visits:
The First Year Schedule
- First Week Visit (3 to 5 days old): This first check-up happens shortly after you’re home from the hospital. It’s a great time to discuss feeding, how your baby is sleeping, and any other initial concerns.
- 1 Month: Your doctor will check your baby’s weight gain, feeding, and general development.
- 2 Months: This visit typically includes the first round of vaccinations. It’s also a chance to discuss your baby’s development and any new concerns.
- 4 Months: More vaccinations are due at this visit. Your pediatrician will also check how your baby is growing and developing in terms of motor skills and responsiveness.
- 6 Months: Along with vaccines, your doctor will check your baby’s growth, discuss nutrition (especially if you’re starting solids), and sleep patterns.
- 9 Months: This visit might include blood tests to check for anemia or lead poisoning. It’s also a time to discuss any concerns about your baby’s mobility or communication skills.
- 12 Months: Your baby will receive more vaccinations and possibly a blood test. This is also a time to celebrate all the milestones your baby has reached in their first year!
Ages 2-3 Years
- 15 months
- 18 months
- 24 months
- 30 months
- 36 months
What Happens at Baby’s Checkups?
- A physical exam from head to toe
- Measurements for height, weight, head circumference, etc.
- Vitals such as blood pressure, temperature, pulse, and respiration rate
- Developmental screening (to be sure baby is hitting developmental milestones as expected)
- Vision and hearing screenings
- Immunizations, as needed
- Health education
After 3 years old, your child will only need a well child checkup once a year. However, your child may need more visits if they have health problems or are experiencing any developmental delays. If you are worried about your baby and think they may need to be seen, don’t wait until the next visit. Call your doctor to discuss the concern.
Communicating With Baby’s Doctor
At your baby’s well visits, his or her doctor will discuss any potential health concerns and also give you guidance on how to care for baby, what to expect in coming months, etc. You will also have time to bring up any questions or concerns that you have to get professional input and advice.
Things the Doctor May Discuss:
- your baby’s growth and development
- any health concerns they may notice
- things you can do to prevent any health concerns from developing
- advice or information they may have to help you support your baby
Things You May Want to Bring Up:
- Your child’s behavior and development
- Proud moments or milestones
- Any changes in your family or your family’s health
- Daily life, including activities your child likes, eating habits, etc.
- Any challenges you or your baby may be facing
If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to ask. This is the time to establish trust and communication with your child’s doctor. If you have noticed any changes in your baby’s behavior or routine, mention it. You can even write down a list of topics you want to discuss beforehand so you don’t forget something important. If you do forget, you can always call the office afterward to ask. Don’t ever feel embarrassed or ashamed to ask for more information, clarification, or help when you need it. Remember that your baby’s doctor and well child visits are critical resources to help keep your baby healthy and well cared for.
When to Visit for Illnesses
Apart from these regular check-ups, you should take your baby to the doctor if they:
- Have a fever above 100.4°F (38°C) if under 3 months, or a persistent fever at any age.
- Show signs of dehydration (like fewer wet diapers).
- Are excessively irritable or lethargic.
- Have difficulty breathing.
- Have any other symptoms that concern you.
Trust Your Instincts
You know your baby better than anyone else. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and consult your pediatrician.
Remember, Regular Check-Ups Are Key
Regular pediatric appointments are a fundamental part of your baby’s first year. They ensure that your baby is growing and developing as they should and give you peace of mind. So, keep up with this schedule, and know that with each visit, you’re doing something wonderful for your baby’s health and well-being.
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- The Well-Child Visit: Why Go and What to Expect. (April 2019). American Academy of Pediatrics. https://brightfutures.aap.org/Bright%20Futures%20Documents/BF_Family_Tipsheet.pdf
- AAP Schedule of Well-Child Care Visits. (Oct 2018). American Academy of Pediatrics. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/health-management/Pages/Well-Child-Care-A-Check-Up-for-Success.aspx
- 2020 Recommended Immunizations for Children from Birth Through 6 Years Old. (Jan 2020). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/downloads/parent-ver-sch-0-6yrs.pdf
- Make the Most of Your Child’s Visit to the Doctor (Ages 1 to 4). (Oct 2020). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://health.gov/myhealthfinder/topics/doctor-visits/regular-checkups/make-most-your-childs-visit-doctor-ages-1-4
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