Check Up on Your Child's Health
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you take your baby in for at least nine checkups during the first three years. During these visits, your child will receive a complete physical examination, height and weight measurements, and recommended vaccinations. Your doctor will also ask you about developmental milestones and can offer advice on everything from introducing solid foods to toilet training.
Well-child checkups are often covered by health insurance for the first two years. If you don't have insurance, find out if your child qualifies for low-cost insurance through the Healthy Families Program or no-cost insurance through Medi-Cal.
Many parents bring their baby to a pediatrician, a doctor who specializes in the health of young children. Other parents prefer a family physician, a doctor who takes care of the whole family, from birth through adulthood.
During your child's first few years, you'll visit the doctor regularly. Follow your doctor's advice for scheduling well-baby checkups. The schedule varies from doctor to doctor, but generally follows this pattern:
Soft spots should be open and flat for the first few months. The spot at the back of the head usually closes by 2-3 months, while the front soft spot closes around 18 months. The doctor will also measure your child's head size.
Doctor will look in both ears for signs of ear infection.
Doctor will use a bright object or flashlight to track your baby's eye movements and look in the eyes.
Doctor will check for signs of infection and teething progress.
Heart and Lungs:
Doctor will place a stethoscope on the front and back of your child's chest to check breathing and heart sounds.
Doctor will place a hand on your child's abdomen and gently press to make sure all the organs are fine.
Hips and Legs:
Doctor will move your baby's legs up and down, and in a gentle circular motion to make sure the hips are alright.
Doctors use growth charts to track a child's physical growth over time. At each checkup, the doctor or nurse will measure your child's weight, height, and head size, and then compare it to a chart that shows the average for babies that are your child's age and sex. The doctor will then tell you how your child compares to other kids in the same developmental stage using percentiles.
Don't worry too much about the percentiles. Every child is different and will grow at his or her own pace. The most important thing is that your child's growth curve continues to go up or stabilize — and not drop too much.
Vaccines boost kids' immune systems and are the best way to protect them from serious infections and diseases, including pneumonia, meningitis, polio, measles, chicken pox, and whooping cough. Side effects are mild and can include swelling where the shot was given, a low fever, or fussiness.