April 08, 2016
If you're fortunate enough to give birth to a healthy baby, your little one's very first checkup will take place just after he's born. From there you'll be making almost monthly visits to the pediatrician with your newborn for checkups. And while you may make several trips to the doctor for an ear infection, fever or belly ache in between, the suggested guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics advise well-child checkups at age one, two, four, six, nine, 12, 15, 18, 24 and 30 months. After that, regular doctor's office visits should take place annually.
The newborn checkup
The very first examination of your child will likely take place within 24 hours of giving birth, according to The Bump. At this time the pediatrician will ensure that your newborn is healthy and responding well, by assessing skin tone, checking for reflexes and monitoring alertness. Following birth, babies are given a hearing exam, a hepatitis B shot and a blood test to check for genetic diseases, sickle-cell disease and hypothyroidism.
Within the next five days, a second exam at the pediatrician's office will take place. This is just to ensure that everything is still going well, that your little one is eating enough and that his growth and development is on track. A head-to-toe exam will be performed and if your little one has not yet gotten the metabolic/hemoglobin screening, he will at this time.
What to expect at each appointment
At each checkup for the remainder of your baby's early childhood you can expect a full-body exam, asserts The Bump. Early on, the soft spot on a baby's head will also be examined. These soft spots, called fontanels, will disappear by 18 months once the bones of the skull fully form together. Measurements of length, height, weight and head circumference will be recorded in your little one's growth chart each time. The doctor will also inquire about baby milestones, development and psychosocial behavior to assess that your child is on track for his age.
In addition to all of the basics - recording measurements, taking developmental surveillance, conducting behavioral assessment and performing a physical exam - here's what to expect at each milestone appointment through the first year.
One year old
Your little one is already a year old! According to Kids Health, at this checkup in addition to the basics, you can expect the doctor to assess your child's eating, bowel movements and sleeping habits. At this age, most toddlers are ready to switch from formula to milk and as this happens, what you find in his diapers will change. Diarrhea or constipation may occur with the introduction of more solid foods. By year one, your little one should be sleeping 12 to 14 per day, including two naps during the day. Development will also be thoroughly assessed at this visit.