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 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.
A few things you can expect 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 two months of age, your baby will receive his or her first set of vaccines. The next well-baby exams should be scheduled at four months, six months, nine months, one year, 15 months, 18 months, and 2 years. Vaccinations are scheduled to be given at each of these visits except the nine month visit. After your baby is 2 years old, they only need to be seen yearly by their doctor for well child exams.
By Megan Kane, DO, family physician, ThedaCare Physicians-Neenah East.