Does My Baby Need Well Baby Exams?

Q: When should my baby get checkups for immunizations and well baby exams?

A: Congratulations on your new addition! Besides taking your baby to the doctor’s office when he or she gets sick, it is important to bring your baby in to see your family doctor or pediatrician for regular well baby exams. These visits will help track your baby’s growth and development as well as give you a chance to ask your baby’s doctor any questions you may have about  diet, sleep habits, development, bowel movements, weight gain, and any other topics you may have to discuss. Try to develop a habit of jotting down questions about your child’s health or behavior at home. Bring this list with you to office visits to discuss with your healthcare provider.

You can expect a few things at every well baby check. The nurse will measure your baby’s weight, height and head size. These measurements are plotted on a growth chart, which is used to make sure your baby is growing at a healthy, steady rate. The nurse will also measure vital signs like temperature, respiratory rate, and heart rate. Your doctor will then perform a full physical exam of your baby. 

There are certain times when you should schedule a well baby visit. The first visit should be at a few days of age. At this visit, it is important to check your baby’s weight and address any immediate questions or concerns after discharge from the hospital. The next visit is at 2 weeks of age. The weight check is important at this visit because newborns may lose up to 10 percent of their birth weight after delivery and should regain their birth weight by this time.  At 2 months of age, your baby will receive his or her first set of vaccines.  The next well baby exams should be scheduled at 4 months, 6 months, 9 months, 1 year, 15 months, 18 months, and 2 years.  Vaccinations are scheduled to be given at each of these visits except the 9 month visit.  After your baby is 2 years old, he or she only needs to be seen yearly by their doctor for well child exams. 

By Dr. Megan Kane, DO, family physician, ThedaCare Physicians-Neenah East.