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
- 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
- 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:
- 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.