Routine wellness checkups are one of the most important things a parent can do to track their child’s growth and development.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a schedule of well-child visits from birth to 21 years. This schedule is known as Bright Futures, and it allows pediatricians and parents alike to know exactly what should be expected at each age. These visits allow your pediatrician to monitor your child’s physical growth and ensure they meet developmental milestones.

Well-Child Visits for Infants and Toddlers

The first wellness check in a child’s life is the newborn visit between 3-5 days old. This visit allows the pediatrician to ensure that the newborn is adjusting to life outside the womb. After this initial check-up, newborns will have to be seen at 1 month. This is then followed by visits at 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months to not only be evaluated for regular development and milestones but also for infants to receive their first vaccinations. After these are completed, the well-child visits get spread out just a bit to include a check-up at 9 months, 12 months, 15 months, 18 months, and then at 2 years. Infants and toddlers are seen more frequently in the first two years of life because this is the period of their most rapid growth and development. To prepare for your baby’s well-checks, it is important to have a list of questions ready to ask your pediatrician.

What to expect during these visits:

  • At the beginning of your visit, you will be given an age-appropriate pre-visit questionnaire to fill out. Your pediatrician will review this with you, addressing any questions or concerns you may have.
  • Your pediatrician will check your baby’s height, weight, and head circumference to ensure they are following their growth curves. Then your pediatrician will perform a head-to-toe exam on your baby.
  • You will also be asked specific age-appropriate developmental questions at each of these visits. Developmental questions asked by your pediatrician will address the baby’s gross motor skills, fine motor skills, social development, and speech development at every well-check. The autism checklist is also performed at the 18-month and 2-year-old well-checks. If the baby seems to not be meeting his or her milestones at any visit, appropriate referrals to specific specialists to address any delay in milestones will be made so that appropriate interventions can take place.

As mentioned, babies are also receiving vaccines at most of these visits in the first two years to prevent serious life-threatening diseases. You will receive vaccine information sheets at every visit that includes vaccines, and your pediatrician will address any questions you may have.

During the well-check, your pediatrician will also discuss your baby’s nutrition, dental care, safety, family matters, and any concerns or questions you may have. This is a crucial time in your baby’s life to ensure normal growth and development, allowing for early interventions or referrals as needed to keep your baby on track.

Well-Child Visits for Ages 3 and Up

Once a toddler turns 3 years old, they will only have to be seen for wellness checkups once a year until they are 21 years old.

During these visits, your child’s height, weight, and blood pressure will be measured. Developmental milestones will be assessed and discussions will cover topics such as nutrition, physical activity, dental visits, school performance, and emotional well-being. Pre-visit questionnaires will be reviewed, and any necessary vaccines will be administered according to the recommended schedule.

When your child turns 11, they will receive annual pre-visit questionnaires to address any questions they may have. Starting at 12 years old, screenings for depression, anxiety, and drug use will also be included. Additionally, your pediatrician will begin having private conversations with your child to address their concerns directly. This approach empowers your child to make healthy decisions and helps build a trusting relationship with their pediatrician.

At the end of every well-child visit, parents receive age-appropriate Bright Futures handouts and any additional materials from the pediatrician. Your child will also start receiving their own Patient Bright Futures handout beginning at 7 years old. This allows them to feel important and to take part in their health care. Pediatricians will also always be ready to give parents advice to help them understand the expected growth and development of their child.

Regular well-child visits are essential for monitoring your child’s growth, development, and overall health. As your child grows older, involving them in their own health decisions fosters responsibility and interest in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s health or the recommended well-child visit schedule, don’t hesitate to contact your TopLine MD Alliance affiliated pediatrician for personalized guidance and support.

Dr. Norina Ocampo is a proud member of the TopLine MD Alliance practicing Pediatric Care in Palm Beach County.

The TopLine MD Alliance is an association of independent physicians and medical practice groups who are committed to providing a higher standard of healthcare services. The members of the TopLine MD Alliance have no legal or financial relationship with one another. The TopLine MD Alliance brand has no formal corporate, financial or legal ties to any of the affiliated physicians or practice groups.