What Are Well-Checks?
After you have your baby, while in the hospital your doctor or the pediatrician in the hospital will tell you to schedule a well-check for your baby either at one week or two weeks of age. Many first time moms however do not know what a well-check is, when their baby should be seen, or why it is important.
Well-checks are what pediatricians refer to when a healthy baby comes into see them for a normal checkup. As your child gets older you might only take them to the doctor when they are sick, but as an infant until age two they should be seen much more regularly. The first visit is normally within a couple of weeks of birth, but in some cases may be at one month. Generally, most visits are very similar and routine, and in most there will be immunizations given. To see the current recommended immunizations schedule click here.
At this first visit to the pediatrician your baby will be weighed and measured so that the doctor can see how they are growing since birth. It is important for your baby’s doctor to do this because some babies have allergies to breast milk or the formula they are on, has reflux, or other problems that keep them from gaining weight. Finding this out early is the most effective way to make sure that your baby is healthy. He will also start your baby’s growth chart at this point so that you can both keep track of how your baby is growing. If you have any questions or problems now is a good time to ask. Your next well-check will probably be scheduled around your baby’s two month birthday.
During this visit your baby will once again be weighed and measured to check his growth. The numbers will be added to his growth chart so that you can see progress. Where your baby is on the growth chart is normally NOT a big deal, as long as they are being consistent in their growth. If you have a concern about your baby’s growth however, be sure to ask your doctor.
Your baby will also get his first series of immunizations at this visit. In most cases your baby would have received a Hep B shot in the hospital before you took him home. In rare cases where he did not, he will be given that shot now. Other shots your baby will probably get include DTaP, Hib, IVP and PCV. Some doctors will also give your baby the vaccine for the Rotavirus which is a liquid given by mouth. Your next well-check will probably be scheduled around your baby’s four month birthday.
Your baby’s growth chart will be updated again and it becomes fun to see the pattern in their growth. Many parents look forward to finding out their baby’s height and weight since your baby is probably in either his second or third set of clothes by this point. The pediatrician will probably start talking to you about giving your baby on baby food. He will also go over any milestones that your baby has reached and the milestones he might reach before your next visit.
Your baby will get another round of immunizations at this visit. These include a second Hep B, DTaP, Hib, IVP and PCV. Ask your pediatrician about giving your baby Tylenol to help with the pain he may be feeling. If you are breastfeeding, plan on feeding your baby immediately after the shots as it may provide comfort to him. Your next well-check will probably be scheduled around your baby’s six month birthday.
Your baby is a half a year old! Time has probably flown by. As a general rule, your baby has probably doubled his birth weight by this time, however if he hasn’t don’t worry about it. Check with your pediatrician if you are concerned. Your baby’s growth chart will once again be updated during this visit. Once again you will discuss milestones your baby has reached and talk about what milestones might be reached over the next three months.
Every visit seems to include immunizations. This time around your baby will once again get the DTaP and Hib vaccine. They will probably get the final dose of Hep B as well. He may get another dose of IVP, however this dose can be given between now and two years so your pediatrician may choose to wait. If it is the season for it, your baby can also now get the influenza shot which is recommended for children over the age of six months. Your next well-check probably won’t be scheduled until your baby is either nine months old or possibly at a year.
It has been up to three months since your last well-check and your baby has probably grown and changed quite a bit. Your pediatrician will go over milestones that your baby has reached over the last few months and answer any questions you might have. At this point your baby has probably been eating baby food daily so you will be able to discuss any problems you are having with that at this visit as well.
If your baby is seen during this month, he may or may not receive immunizations. The latest schedule from the American Academy of Pediatrics does not show immunizations at this time so it will be up to you and your baby’s doctor on what shots to give or not give. You next well-check will be around your baby’s first birthday.
Your baby has turned one! Where has the time gone? Does it seem possible that a year ago you were holding a tiny baby in your arms? This is a big appointment for your baby as you get to see exactly how much your baby has grown over the past year. The pediatrician will update the growth chart and go over your baby’s diet at this appointment. In most cases you will be told to go ahead and start giving your baby whole milk instead of formula, or in addition the breast milk if you are still breastfeeding.
Once again there are immunizations scheduled for this visit. If your baby did not get the fourth Hep B at six months, he may get it now. Other immunizations he may get include the Hib, IVP, MMR, Varicella, PCV and if it is that time of year, the Influenza vaccine. These can all be given at different times during the next six months so discussing the time frame with your pediatrician is a good idea. The next well-check will be at 15 months.
Your pediatrician will update the growth-chart and will discuss with you any problems you are having. If your baby did not get Hib, IVP, MMR, Varicella, PCV or the Influenza shots at your last visit you will get them now. Your baby may also get the fourth DTaP immunization. Your next well-check visit will be at 18 months.
At this point your baby is probably running around and growing more in inches than in weight as he burns extra calories. You may see a change in the height level on the growth chart but not much of one in the weight. Your pediatrician will go over any questions you have and make sure your baby is healthy.
DTaP, IVP and the Varicella vaccines are what your baby might get at this visit if they haven’t had it previously. Also, if it is winter now the Influenza vaccine might be in order. In most cases these shots finish off your child’s immunizations until they reach school age, between 4-6 years old. In some cases your pediatrician may have skipped a dose or pushed one back. If that is so your baby may get shots at his next well-check, at two years.
Unless there is a problem this will be your baby’s last well-check until he turns three. He should be speaking, walking, and probably in the terrible two’s by now. If you have any concerns about his development you should talk to his doctor at this time. His growth chart will be filled out by now and a nice curve should be seen. If your child missed any of his immunizations he may be given some at this appointment in order to get caught up. There shouldn’t be any more after this until he is 4-6 years old.
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