Watching Your Baby Grow: Well Baby Visits
The first two years of your baby’s life is a crucial time in their growth and development. Checkups, or well-baby visits, are important to make sure that your baby is progressing normally. These visits will also prepare you for what to expect and watch for in your baby’s development. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a checkup when your baby’s 2 weeks old, followed by visits at ages 2, 4, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18 and 24 months. Your pediatrician may have a slightly different schedule. At each visit, your pediatrician will:
- Measure your baby's height, weight and head circumference: They’ll be marked on a growth chart to determine how your baby is growing, and that they’re growing steadily. Head circumference is used to gauge baby's brain growth. Your baby's brain grows the most during the first two years of life.
- Give baby a thorough physical exam: Your pediatrician will check baby’s skin, eyes, mouth, heart and lungs, and all bones and internal organs.
- Ask you questions: Your pediatrician wants to know how your baby’s doing - whether they’re active, and feeding and sleeping normally. This is a chance for you to talk about any concerns you have - you’re the closest to your baby and may be the first ones to spot a problem.
In addition to these measurements and the exam that’s done at every appointment, here’s a list of what may take place at baby’s appointments going forward (some tests may be done at different ages):
- 1 Month: Immunizations
- 2 Months: Immunizations
- 4 Months: Hematocrit/hemoglobin screening and immunizations
- 6 Months: Immunizations and oral health check (baby may have their first tooth by now)
- 9 Months: Development screening and immunizations
- 12 Months: Hematocrit/hemoglobin screening, immunizations, and possibly a lead screening and TB test
- 15 Months: Immunizations:
- 18 Months: Autism screening and immunizations
- 24 Months: Development screening, psychosocial/behavioral assessment, autism screening and immunizations, and possibly a hematocrit/hemoglobin screening, a lead screening, TB test, an oral health exam and a dyslipidemia screening, which tests for signs of a lipid disorder.
A baby is tested to make sure they’re happy and healthy, you’ll start seeing growth spurts. A growth spurt is defined as “an occurrence of growing quickly and suddenly in a short period of time.” According to the Mayo Clinic, the average baby grows a half inch to one inch every month in the first six months, and gains five to seven ounces every week in the first six months. The first growth spurt occurs around seven to 10 days after birth, right around when most babies are starting to put on weight. The second happens between 3 and 6 weeks, and more spurts could occur at 3, 6 and 9 months.
Baby growth spurts happen fairly quickly – usually two to three days, from start to finish. Every baby is different, but here are some signs to watch for:
- Increased hunger: Your baby suddenly wants to feed constantly.
- Fitful sleep: Even if baby used to have a solid sleep pattern, they’re now restless and awake at all hours.
- Fussiness: Partially because of fitful sleep patterns, your baby could be irritable during the day.
Growth spurts, like teething, are easy to confuse with other issues. An overly sleepy or fussy baby could indicate illness. Be sure to talk to your pediatrician if you have concerns.