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Make the Most of Your Baby’s Visit to the Doctor (Ages 0 to 11 months)

smiling mother and baby

Content last updated on:
February 24, 2014

The Basics

Babies need to go to the doctor or nurse for a “well-baby visit” 6 times during their first year. A well-baby visit is when you take your baby to the doctor for a full checkup, separate from any other visit for sickness or injury.

At these visits, the doctor or nurse can help catch problems early, when they may be easier to treat. A well-baby visit is also a chance to ask any questions you have about caring for your baby.

Make the most of your baby’s visit by:

  • Gathering important information
  • Making a list of questions for the doctor
  • Knowing what to expect from the visit

What about cost?
Well-baby visits are covered under the Affordable Care Act. Depending on your insurance plan, your baby may be able to get well-baby checkups at no cost to you. Check with your insurance provider.

How often do I need to take my baby for well-baby visits?
Babies need to see the doctor or nurse 6 times during their first year. Your baby is growing and changing quickly, so regular visits are important.

The first well-baby visit is 2 to 3 days after coming home from the hospital. After that visit, babies need to see the doctor or nurse when they are:

  • 1 month old
  • 2 months old
  • 4 months old
  • 6 months old
  • 9 months old

If you are worried about your baby’s health, don’t wait until the next scheduled visit – call the doctor or nurse right away.

How do I know if my baby is growing and developing on schedule?
Your baby’s doctor or nurse can help you identify the signs (called developmental milestones) to look for in your child at different ages. This is an important part of the well-baby visit.

During the first year of life, your baby will reach milestones in how she learns, plays, behaves, and moves. Each baby grows and develops differently. For example, some babies will crawl earlier than others.

There are some basic developmental milestones that your doctor or nurse will look for at each visit.

By age 1 month, most babies:

  • Are gaining weight
  • Have a good sucking reflex
  • React to sounds
  • Move their arms and legs

By age 2 months, most babies:

  • Lift their head when lying on their stomach
  • Begin to look at close objects
  • Make cooing noises
  • Smile
  • Have different cries for different feelings (hungry, cranky, uncomfortable)

By age 4 months, most babies:

  • Roll over from their stomach to their back
  • Try to reach and grab objects
  • Put objects in their mouth
  • Start babbling
  • Laugh
  • Recognize a parent’s voice or touch

By age 6 months, most babies:

  • Move objects from one hand to the other
  • Roll over from their back to their stomach
  • Start teething
  • Sleep for 6 to 8 hours a night without waking up
  • Copy other people’s actions and sounds
  • Begin to get scared of new people
  • Like hearing their own voice

By age 9 months, most babies:

  • Crawl
  • Sit for long periods of time without support
  • Feed themselves with their fingers
  • Throw and shake toys
  • Understand the meaning of “no”
  • Respond to their name
  • Wave bye-bye
  • Play games like peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake

Remember, each baby develops a little differently. If you are concerned about your child’s growth and development, talk to your baby’s doctor or nurse.

Learn more about newborn and infant development.

Take Action!

Take Action!

Take these steps to help you and your baby get the most out of well-baby visits to the doctor.

Gather important information.
Take any medical records you have to the appointment, including a record of shots your baby has received and results from newborn screenings. Make a list of any important changes in your baby’s life since the last doctor’s visit, like:

  • Being sick
  • Falling or getting injured
  • Starting daycare or getting a new caregiver

Use this tool to keep track of your baby’s family health history.

Make a list of questions you want to ask the doctor.
Write down 3 to 5 questions before the well-baby visit. Each well-baby visit is a great time to ask the doctor or nurse any questions about:

  • How your baby is growing and developing
  • How your baby is sleeping
  • Breastfeeding your baby
  • When and how to start giving your baby solid foods
  • What changes and behaviors to expect in the coming months
  • How to make sure your home is safe for a growing baby

Here are some important questions to ask.

  • Is my baby up to date on shots?
  • How can I make sure my baby is getting enough to eat?
  • Is my baby at a healthy weight?
  • Is my baby getting enough sleep?

Take a notepad and write down the answers so you can remember them later.

Know what to expect.
During each well-baby visit, the doctor or nurse will ask you questions about your baby and do a physical exam. The doctor or nurse will then update your baby’s medical history with all of this information.

Questions the doctor or nurse may ask:

  • Behavior – Does your baby copy your movements and sounds?
  • Health – How many diapers does your baby wet each day?
  • Safety – If you live in an older home, has it been inspected for lead?
  • Activity – Does your baby try to roll over?
  • Eating habits – How often does your baby eat each day?
  • Family – Do you have any worries about being a parent?

Your answers to these questions will help the doctor or nurse make sure your baby is healthy. See what else the doctor may ask when your baby is:

The doctor or nurse will also check your baby’s body.
The doctor or nurse will:

  • Measure height, weight, and the size of your baby’s head
  • Take your baby’s temperature
  • Check your baby’s vision and hearing
  • Check your baby’s body parts
  • Give needed shots

Find out more about what to expect at your baby’s
well-baby visit

Know what to do if your baby gets sick.
Make sure you know how to get in touch with a doctor or nurse when the office is closed. Ask the doctor’s office if there is a nurse information service you can call at night or on weekends.

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