Babies go to the doctor a lot in their first year of life! In general, these visits are a great time for you to learn from your pediatrician and for your doctor to get to know you and your baby, while making sure baby’s development is on track. Well-child visits are also essential for preventing illness in your baby with vaccinations and education. If this is your first baby—or if you’re a parent already and it’s been a while since your last baby—read on to learn more about what to expect in the first year and a half of pediatrician visits.
At each pediatrician visit, your baby’s doctor will ask you for updates on your baby’s health history, take measurements, assess baby’s behavior, perform a physical exam, and talk with you about what to expect from baby going forward. The specific things they look for in terms of baby’s behavior and in a physical exam differ each time and depend on how old baby is. Many visits include vaccinations, too. Pediatricians often check in on you as the parent as well because the health of the baby is so closely tied to physical and emotional health in the family. Remember to bring questions to ask your pediatrician, though of course you can always contact them with questions in between well-child visits.
While baby will be examined in the hospital, their first pediatrician visit will usually happen within the first week after birth, generally two or three days after coming home. At this visit, your pediatrician will check baby for jaundice and take measurements to see how baby is growing, as well as test their hearing. It often includes a discussion of feeding options and support for breastfeeding, as well as of how to care for your newborn.
The one-month visit is when baby will probably get their second dose of the Hepatitis B vaccine (usually they receive the first at birth) and be weighed and have their length and head circumference measured. Your pediatrician will likely ask about baby’s eating, sleep, and how they are interacting with you and the world. Sometimes doctors also test babies for Tuberculosis at this appointment.
At the two-month visit, your doctor will do the typical physical exam, measurements, and developmental assessments. Baby will also get their second dose of the Hepatitis B vaccine if they didn’t get it at the one-month visit, as well as the first dose of several other vaccinations: rotavirus, DTaP, Haemophilus influenzae type b, polio, and Pneumococcal vaccination.
For baby’s four-month visit, you can expect your baby to be measured and examined, as well as to receive the second dose of the vaccines that happen at the two-month visit. Your doctor may also test baby’s iron levels at this visit.
By the six-month visit, a lot of things will have changed with your baby, both in terms of growth and physical and psychological development. Your doctor will assess these changes and discuss any concerns that they have with you. If your baby has teeth or seems to be working on growing them, the pediatrician may also talk with you about baby’s oral health. In terms of vaccines, baby will get a third dose of DTaP and pneumococcal vaccinations. Depending on which vaccine your pediatrician is using, baby may also get the third dose of the Hepatitis B, rotavirus, Haemophilus influenzae type b, and polio vaccines. By six months, baby is also old enough to receive their yearly flu shot, and your pediatrician will likely recommend it at the beginning of flu season (usually sometime in the fall).
The nine-month visit is the start of the timing between appointments getting longer (three months instead of two!) and includes the measurements and physical and behavioral exams that you and baby are use to by now. This visit is the first with a more formal developmental screening, as opposed to developmental surveillance, but you may not notice a difference. If baby didn’t get a flu shot, or third dose of Hepatitis B or polio vaccinations, they may get them at this appointment.
At the 12-month visit, congratulations are in order! You’ve made it through a year of parenting. When your baby is a year old, your pediatrician will weigh and measure your baby, give them a physical exam, and evaluate their development and behavior. Your baby’s doctor will also probably test your baby’s blood for levels of the heavy metal lead, which usually includes a fingerstick to collect a small amount of blood. The results of this test are usually back in a few days. Vaccine-wise, your one-year-old may be due for their third dose of the Hepatitis B and polio vaccines and their third or fourth dose of Haemophilus influenzae type b and Pneumoccocal vaccines. Depending on the timing, a flu shot is a possibility for this appointment, too. And at 12 months, it is also safe for your baby to get the first dose of the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), Varicella (chicken pox), and Hepatitis A vaccines.