Have Your Baby Seen When Healthy

You may be tempted to keep your baby at home instead of venturing out to the doctor's office every few months, but there are sound reasons to take your little one to be seen by a medical professional.

Well baby visit

Well-baby visits involve several things that may seem routine, such as measurements, evaluations of development and vaccinations. While a good checkup is good news, what is your practitioner really looking for? And is it really important to keep going if your baby seems fine?

Vaccines are generally scheduled to be doled out during many well-baby visits, which makes for good reason to go to the checkups. But should you bother going to a 9-month well check if there are no shots scheduled? Or what if you are delaying immunizations, or not doing them at all? There are still plenty of great reasons to go get your baby checked out.

Measurements

Your baby's medical caregiver will weigh your baby at each visit, note her length and measure her head circumference. These numbers will then be plotted on a graph that lets you know how she compares to other babies her age. While measuring severely above or below the normal averages may be a concern, what your doctor is really looking for is a consistent, steady climb up the growth chart as your baby grows.

Going to your baby's checkups helps ensure that any drastic change in growth (in either direction) will be noted right away and action, if needed, can be taken sooner rather than later.

Physical examination

The caregiver will then perform a detailed physical examination, looking for signs of illness or infection as well as any issues that need to be dealt with, such as hip dislocation or hernias.

While you may be aware of some problems, such as a rash or a cough, others may not be so readily obvious and need a trained eye to detect them.

Developmental milestones

Often, a medical professional will either ask if your baby is doing age-appropriate things or try to elicit a demonstration if your little one is awake and content. Things the doctor will be looking for include your baby's ability to track movement with his eyes, hold his head up or sit alone.

All babies develop at their own pace, but they do tend to stay within a few months of one another. For example, if your 10-month-old baby is unable to sit, even with support, the doctor may be able to determine the cause and prescribe physical therapy (or other treatments) to get him back on track.

Stay on target

Keeping up your baby's well visits will help you all stay on target. You will have chances to ask questions and get advice on when to start solids and what you can look forward to in future months. Ideally, you and your baby's doctor can form a strong partnership that will last throughout your little one's childhood.

More on milestones

Baby milestones: When should baby sit up? Crawl? Walk? Talk?
12-month baby milestones
What to do if your baby is missing milestones

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