Well-Visits 101: When Your Child Should See the Doctor and Why

The period from birth through adolescence is a critical time in a child’s development. Because this is the stage of life where a person develops most rapidly, it’s important that your child be examined by a pediatrician regularly in order to identify any potential problems.

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Bring your child for all her well visits to ensure she stays happy and healthy.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following well-visit schedule:

  • 2-3 days after being brought home from the hospital (for breastfeeding babies) or when the baby is 2-4 days old (for all babies who are released from a hospital before they are 2 days old)
  • By 1 month (although experienced parents can wait until 2 months)
  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • 6 months
  • 9 months
  • 1 year
  • 15 months
  • 18 months
  • 2 years
  • 3 years
  • 4 years
  • 5 years
  • 6 years
  • 8 years
  • 10 years
  • Each year after that until age 21

At every well-child visit, the pediatrician will:

  • Measure your child’s height and weight
  • Take your child’s temperature and listen to his heart and lungs
  • Ask you questions about your child’s diet
  • Ask questions about your child’s behavior and perform simple tests to check his development
  • Administer vaccinations as needed

Age 0-1 year
During these visits, the pediatrician will measure your child’s head growth and ask you about how often he drinks formula or breastfeeds, how he sleeps, how often he urinates and has bowel movements, and how he behaves. The doctor will also help you decide when your child is ready for solid food and what to feed him.

Age 1-5 years
The pediatrician will continue to measure your child’s head growth until age 2.  The doctor will also check for delays or conditions like autism, examine your child’s teeth and recommend seeing a dentist, and, starting at age 3, begin taking your child’s blood pressure at every visit, examine his vision and hearing, and speak to your child to ensure his speech is normal.

Age 5-12 years
These visits will still occasionally include hearing and vision tests, and will also focus on your child’s nutrition, physical activity, and time spent with personal electronics. The pediatrician will also look for any problems with your child’s spine, changes in birthmarks, and any signs of emotional or mental problems.

Age 13-17 years
The pediatrician will continue to inquire into your child’s nutrition, physical activity and mental/emotional well-being, and will also discuss the changes associated with puberty. The doctor may check your child’s skin for acne and perform breast and pelvic exams on girls and testicular exams on boys.  The doctor may also discuss issues related to smoking, drinking, drugs, and safe sex.

To find a pediatrician near you, use the Vitals Doctor Finder.

Sources: nlm.nih.gov and drugs.com