The Basics: Overview
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 to make sure he is healthy and developing normally. This is different from other visits for sickness or injury.
At a well-baby visit, the doctor or nurse can help catch any problems early, when they may be easier to treat. You will also have a chance to ask any questions you have about caring for your baby.
To make the most of your baby’s visit:
- Gather important information
- Make a list of questions for the doctor
- Know what to expect from the visit
What about cost?
Under the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law passed in 2010, insurance plans must cover well-baby visits. Depending on your insurance plan, your baby may be able to get well-baby checkups at no cost to you. Check with your insurance company to learn more.
The Basics: Well-Baby Visits
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, when the baby is about 2 to 5 days old. After that first 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.
The Basics: Child Development
How do I know if my baby is growing and developing on schedule?
Your baby’s doctor or nurse can help you identify “developmental milestones,” the new skills that children usually develop by a certain age. These include physical, mental, language, and social skills.
Each baby grows and develops differently. For example, some babies will crawl earlier than others.
At each visit, the doctor or nurse will look for some basic developmental milestones to see if your baby is developing on schedule. This is an important part of the well-baby visit.
The Basics: 1 to 2 Months
By age 1 month, most babies:
- Are gaining weight and growing
- Have a strong sucking reflex
- React to sounds
- Move their arms and legs symmetrically (the same way on both sides)
By age 2 months, most babies:
- Lift their head when lying on their stomach
- Begin to look at close objects and people's faces
- Bring their hands to their mouth
- Make cooing sounds
- Smile at people
See a complete list of developmental milestones for kids age 2 months.
The Basics: 4 to 6 Months
By age 4 months, most babies:
- Roll over from their stomach to their back
- Reach for, grab, and hold toys
- Have different cries for different feelings (like hungry, cranky, or uncomfortable)
- Start babbling
- Recognize a parent’s voice or touch
- Copy some facial expressions and sounds
See a complete list of developmental milestones for kids age 4 months.
By age 6 months, most babies:
- Begin to sit without support
- Roll over in both directions (from stomach to back and from back to stomach)
- Start teething
- Sleep for 6 to 8 hours a night without waking up
- Respond to their own name
- Show interest in and reach for objects
- Begin to know if someone is a stranger
- Like to look at themselves in a mirror
See a complete list of developmental milestones for kids age 6 months.
The Basics: 9 Months
By age 9 months, most babies:
- Sit for a long time without support
- Feed themselves with their fingers
- Throw and shake toys
- Have favorite toys
- Understand the word “no”
- Wave bye-bye
- Play games like peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake
See a complete list of developmental milestones for kids age 9 months.
What if I'm worried about my baby's development?
Remember, each baby develops a little differently. But 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.