A well-baby check is a comprehensive evaluation of a baby’s health, growth, and development. Baby checkups are critically important for ensuring newborns and infants receive recommended immunizations as well as for identifying problems in their earliest stages. Plus, well-baby checkups provide parents and caregivers with plenty of opportunities to discuss their concerns and ask questions about their baby’s health, growth, and care.
Well-baby checkups begin with measurements of the baby’s length and weight, which are compared to a standard growth chart to ensure the baby’s growth is on track for their age. The chart is a compilation of average lengths and weights for babies of the same age so parents can see how their baby compares and so the doctor can identify potential problems that may be interfering with normal growth. The baby’s head circumference will also be measured to evaluate brain growth.
Next, Drs. Dela Cruz perform a head-to-toe physical exam, including listening to the baby’s lungs and heart, gently palpating the baby’s belly and groin to check for areas of swelling or tenderness, moving the baby’s major joints, and looking at the baby’s eyes, ears, and mouth. Depending on the age of the baby, the fontanelle -- the soft spot on the baby’s head -- is checked. Drs. Dela Cruz also ask about the baby’s sleeping and eating habits, how active the baby is, how often the baby goes to the bathroom, and other questions about the baby’s behavior.
Some questions like whether or not the baby’s rolling over or sitting up, tracking objects with their eyes, responding to your facial expressions, or responding appropriately to noises can help identify underlying problems that require monitoring or further evaluation. Depending on the baby’s age, vaccinations are provided to ward off serious diseases and to enable the baby to develop a healthy immune system.
That depends on the baby’s age and other factors. Medical guidelines established by national health agencies determine the recommended vaccine schedule for babies, children, and even adults.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends well visits within the first week of being born and at 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, and 24 months of age, with annual exams after that.