The first two years of your baby’s life will be full of magical milestones, and you will probably spend more time in a pediatrician’s office for well-baby care during this 24-month period than you will ever spend again. Regular checkups for your newborn are called well-baby visits, and they are critical for keeping track of your little one’s growth and development.
These baby doctor’s visits can also help catch any potential problems early and prepare you as a parent for what you should expect in terms of developmental milestones and infant care before your child’s next exam. You will of course play a critical role in your baby’s emotional and physical wellness, providing the nurture and protection that only a parent can. However, you’ll also have an important partner in keeping your child healthy: a doctor for babies, also known as a pediatrician.
What Are Well-Baby Visits and Why are They So Important?
Well-baby visits provide an opportunity for your child’s doctor, like our pediatricians at Hollywood Pediatrics, to check in with your baby’s health regularly. Following a pediatrician appointment schedule will allow your healthcare provider to make sure your child is developing, growing, and feeding as he should be and that he’s getting all the vaccines he needs to prevent life-threatening childhood diseases.
When you go to your baby doctor’s visits, you’ll also get a chance to ask any questions you might have about your little one that you’ve collected since your last visit. Here is what you can expect from your well-baby visits:
Charting Your Baby’s Growth
Your pediatrician will measure and record your child’s weight and height at each appointment and mark them on a growth chart. This chart is used to compare your child’s growth to the averages of children who share the same age and gender. The lines on the growth chart mark the percentiles, which tell you the percentage of children who fall above or below your baby’s measurements.
Keep in mind that there is no perfect size for your little one, and even if he comes in below the average, it doesn’t mean he is unhealthy. What’s most important is that he is growing steadily. It’s normal for weight to drop off at certain points in your baby’s life, like around the nine to 12-month range. But sometimes it isn’t normal. This is one of the reasons you should try to stick to your wellness baby visit schedule. If your child isn’t growing properly, your pediatrician will be able to recognize and target the problem at each visit.
Physical Exams for Well Baby Care
At each visit, your child’s doctor will give him a thorough physical exam. His eyes will be checked for a red reflex that shows his vision is clear, his skin will be checked for birthmarks, and the shape of his head will be examined while your pediatrician checks that his soft spot is normal. The doctor will also examine the mouth to make sure your baby’s palate is properly formed.
Your doctor for babies will also listen to your child’s heart for murmurs and his lungs to make sure they’re clear at your baby doctor’s visit. The pediatrician will examine your baby’s nipples for discharge or swelling, which is normal in the first week of life but not afterward. Your child’s abdomen will be felt to check for organ enlargement, and your pediatrician will stretch your child’s legs to check for hip dysplasia.
This test will likely make your little one cry, but it’s important. Hip dysplasia is a birth defect that can negatively impact your child’s ability to walk if gone unchecked. But it can easily be fixed by putting your baby in a special splint for several weeks up to a few months. Sticking to your pediatrician appointment schedule will ensure that defects like this are found early and treated appropriately.
Guiding Your Baby’s Development
At Pembroke Pines Pediatrics, your doctor for babies will talk with you about well-baby care at each visit. They will ask questions about how he is doing and if he is hitting milestones as expected, is active, and sleeping and feeding like he should. By keeping to your wellness baby visit schedule, you’ll be able to bring up any concerns you have about your child’s health and development. Your pediatrician will tell you what is considered normal and will often be able to soothe any concerns you have.
Pediatrician Appointment Schedule
Your pediatrician will give you a wellness baby visit schedule that you should try your best to stick to. Your child’s first checkup and first vaccine will take place at the hospital. After this first exam, well-baby visits will be scheduled as follows:
- The first week. This is usually only a few days after you and your newborn are discharged from the hospital
- 1 month
- 2 months
- 4 months
- 6 months
- 9 months
- 12 months
- 15 months
- 18 months
- 24 months
This is the schedule recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, but your pediatrician’s schedule might vary slightly from this. This is a lot of visits to the doctor just for checkups, but you must do them to ensure your little one’s health. You’ll get reassurance on your baby’s health, and you’ll always have the comfort of knowing that if anything were to go wrong, your child’s doctor would notice it quickly. Staying on top of your child’s vaccine schedule also ensures your little one is fully protected against preventable disease.
Tips on Making the Most of Each Well-Baby Visit
The idea of trying to handle a squirmy newborn while remembering everything you wanted to ask your pediatrician might sound impossible. But if you come prepared and follow the tips below, you’ll be sure to have a successful visit:
- Time your visit right. Try to schedule each appointment at a time that your child is likely to be well-rested and well-fed. Avoid appointments that are in the middle of his normal nap time. Also, try to find out when the doctor’s office is the least crowded to minimize your time in the waiting room.
- Write down your questions. Every time a non-urgent question pops into your head, write it down and make sure to bring the list with you to your appointment.
- Make a checklist for your visits. To make sure you never forget anything, write a list of all your appointment essentials, like diapers, a change of clothes, up-to-date insurance information, an extra blanket, a favorite toy, snacks for you and your little one, and a list of your baby’s skills so far.
- Well-baby visits provide you with a great opportunity to get to know your pediatrician and address any concerns you may have. Your doctor will be able to keep track of your baby’s growth and development over time and pinpoint any problems or health concerns early. You should come to each appointment as scheduled with an open ear and any questions you need answers to.
Your Child is in Good Hands
Do you have questions about well-baby care and its importance? At Children’s Medical Center of South Florida, we have experienced and compassionate pediatric healthcare providers who can answer your questions. Call today or make an appointment online to schedule a well-baby visit for your infant.