well-baby check

What is a Well-Baby Check and Is It Necessary?

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Although people have been raising children since the beginning of time, childrearing can be very complicated.

Luckily, during the first few years, our children see their healthcare providers frequently for a well-baby check.  

Learn what a well-baby check entails and how to prepare for it.

What is a Well-Baby Check?

If your child is sick or has a problem, most people instinctively bring them to their healthcare provider.

During these visits, your healthcare provider evaluates your concern, diagnoses the problem, and treats as necessary. This is called a sick visit.

However, if your child is feeling well, you may be wondering what is the point of seeing your provider?

Alternatively to a sick visit, a well-baby check or well-child visit is a comprehensive visit to ensure your child is developing appropriately.

These checkups provide an opportunity for your provider to evaluate if your baby is developing on track, growing at an appropriate rate, and not having any issues that you may not be able to detect such as a heart murmur.

Additionally, this is an excellent opportunity for parents to ask any questions or concerns. These include questions in regards to feeding schedules, sleep problems, rashes, or behavioral problems.

Although these visits may be quick, they serve a significant purpose in ensuring your child is growing on track and not experiencing any delays.

The typical well-baby check schedule as recommended by the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) is: 

  • 1 Month
  • 2 Months
  • 4 Months
  • 6 Months
  • 9 Months
  • 12 Months
  • 15 Months
  • 18 Months
  • 24 Months
  • 2 1/2 Years Old
  • 3 Years Old
  • Once a Year thereafter

Take advantage of your child’s well-baby check as the opportunity to ask questions about your child’s growth and development. Learn what to ask and how to prepare for your next appointment.

Download my cheat-sheet for questions to ask prior to your next visit!

Preparing for Your Well-Baby Check

Height and Weight:

Height and weight measurements are both fun and important to know.  

From my personal experience, family and friends always want to know how big my baby is.  Make sure to always ask and record your child’s height and weight at each visit.

Additionally, ask for your child’s height and weight percentiles. The height and weight percentile compare your child’s size to all other children of the same age and gender.

Your healthcare provider monitors these percentiles each visit to ensure that your child is growing at an expected rate.  However, as a parent it can be a helpful guide as well.

If you notice that your child’s weight jumps from 20% to 50%, but their length remains 20%, maybe you are overfeeding your child a little bit.

Alternatively, if your child is constantly dropping in weight percentiles, you might need to encourage higher calorie foods throughout the day.

Upcoming Milestones

Another important question to ask at each visit is which milestones are coming next.  Knowing which milestones are coming soon is helpful for a number of reasons.

First, you can use this information to provide focused activities to help your child reach the milestones. For example, if you are told that your baby will start to roll over soon, you can try to practice more tummy time.

This will help to develop necessary upper body strength for rolling over and crawling in the coming months. For more tips on activities to help reach four month milestones, read this post.

Another benefit of knowing which milestones are approaching is being able to prepare your home. If you know that your baby will be on the go in the next month or two, now is the time to purchase outlet covers, cabinet locks, and baby gates.

If your baby has not reached a milestone on time, do not stress. Make note of it on your cheat sheet and discuss with your provider at the next well-check.

Milestones are meant to be a guideline of what the average baby can accomplish at each age. However, every baby develops differently and may reach some milestones faster than others.

Discuss with your healthcare provider if you have any concerns, but otherwise, keep performing helpful activities and playing with your baby.

Sleep

well-baby check

Sleep is a huge talking point for every age. I am a huge advocate of achieving adequate sleep for adults and children alike.

Adequate sleep is required for growth, learning, and appropriate behavior. Plus, nobody wants to deal with a cranky and overtired child!

At each visit, ask your provider how many hours your child should be sleeping. Ask what a normal nap schedule is for your child’s age as well.

If your child is outside of the norm, ask for tips to improve sleep habits. Also, read this post on helpful tips to improve your toddler’s sleep.

Eating: How Much and When?

From birth through early childhood, your child grows rapidly. They require well-balanced nutrition to help them grow and develop. However, there is such a thing as too much food for children.

Ask your provider how much your child should be eating on average.

There is no black and white answer to this question, but your provider will evaluate the age and size of your child as well as their height and weight percentiles.

Based on that information, they will be able to give you a better idea about how much your child should be eating and how often.

Keep in mind, babies and young children have very small stomachs, so they require food more frequently throughout the day than we do.

Make sure your child is staying on track and gaining weight at a healthy rate.

Which Medications Are Safe If Needed?

Nobody wants to have a sick baby, but it is always good to be prepared.  

At each visit, ask your provider to tell you the appropriate dose of acetaminophen (Tylenol) for your baby in case your baby is in pain or has a fever.

This dose is both age and weight-based so your provider can quickly calculate it for you.  

Keep this written down on your cheat-sheet, so in the heat of the moment, you do not need to do any calculations or math problems.

Copy of Vaccines

Your vaccine records are especially important for children who are in school or daycare.  Each time your child receives a vaccine, make sure to ask for a copy of their updated vaccine record.

I usually request 2, one for my daycare and one for my own records.  This way if anybody else needs a copy, I know it is always up to date.

Additionally, if your child receives any vaccines at their visit, ask about any expected side effects.  

Some vaccines may cause a low grade fever or fussiness.  It is always helpful to know what to expect so you are not caught off guard wondering if something went wrong.

Any Additional Concerns

Write down anything else that may be concerning you.  This could be rashes, behavioral issues, travel, sun exposure, or anything.  

The well-visit is your time to ask questions, so take advantage.  Write down all of your questions so you will be prepared for the checkup.

Also, save room for the answers to these questions including any referrals you may need.

Do not be afraid to ask questions.  These visits are meant to be a time for parents to ask questions and learn.

Preparing Your Toddler for Their Well-Baby Check

Well-baby Check
Practice at home before your next well-baby check!

Now that you are prepared with all of the right questions for your child’s checkup, help your toddler prepare as well.

Many children are afraid of going for their well-visits and cry or act out.

Pediatrician’s offices are full of foreign objects and instruments.  Plus, a stranger is poking and prodding them while they are undressed.

It is easy to see why a toddler would not cooperate well during these visits!

Practice at Home

In order to reduce the fear of well-baby visits, try to practice and prepare at home. My toddler used to cry from the second she was weighed until the moment we walked out the door.

To conquer this fear, I started making the activities of a checkup familiar and fun.

I had an extra stethoscope at home so we first started practicing with that.  We each listened to each other’s hearts which she thought was very fun!  

If you do not happen to have real stethoscope lying around like I do, you can buy a medical kit that comes with various tools that are usually found in an office- stethoscope, otoscope to look in ears, opthalmascope to look in eyes, and pretend needles for shots.

Start playing with the kit and practice giving each other a checkup. 

Your toddler will be excited for their next visit and will have fun saying “ah” and seeing a real stethoscope in action.

Read About Checkups

Also, in order to reduce the fear of the well-visits, start reading books about them.  This is a fun way to learn what to expect at each visit.  

Some of our favorite checkup books for toddlers are:

The more kids are exposed to a checkup, the less scary it will be.

Get ready for your next visit, bring your cheat-sheet, and help your child live their healthiest life.

For more parenting tips, you might like this post on baby milestones for 2 month olds.

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6 thoughts on “What is a Well-Baby Check and Is It Necessary?”

    1. Mindful Mama Health

      Enjoy your baby’s checkup! I always look forward to hearing how much my little one has grown and accomplished!

  1. Oh my goodness your daughter is so adorable! Well visits are so important, they help make sure your child is on track. If they’re not you can address it on a timely matter.

    1. Mindful Mama Health

      Thank you! Yes, I agree, that they are so important to help keep kids on track or intervene early if necessary!

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