Well Child Exams
Most babies have their first checkup within the first few weeks after birth. Even when things are going well, frequent checkups during the first year are an important way to monitor your child’s growth and development.
It is recommended that children have a well-child examination at the following ages:
Every year until 18 years old
What to expect during a well check exam
Complete Physical Exam
Head: The doctor will check the soft spots (fontanels) on your baby’s head. These gaps between the skull bones give your baby’s brain plenty of room to grow. They’re safe to touch and typically disappear within 12 to 18 months, when the skull bones fuse together.
Ears: The doctor will check for fluid or infection in your baby’s ears with an instrument called an otoscope.
Eyes: Using a bright object or flashlight to catch your baby’s attention, he or she may track your baby’s eye movements and check for crossing of the eyes.
Mouth: A look inside your baby’s mouth may reveal signs of oral thrush, a common, and easily treated, yeast infection. As your baby gets older, the doctor may ask whether you’ve noticed more drooling or chewing than usual. These are often the first signs of teething.
Skin: Various skin conditions may be identified during the exam, including birthmarks, and rashes.
Heart and Lungs: The doctor will listen to your baby’s heart and lungs with a stethoscope to detect any abnormal heart sounds or rhythms or breathing difficulties.
Abdomen: By gently pressing your baby’s abdomen, the doctor can detect tenderness, enlarged organs or hernias, which occurs when a bit of intestine or fatty tissue near the navel breaks through the muscular wall of the abdomen. Most umbilical hernias resolve on their own by age 2.
Hips and legs: Your baby’s legs may be moved to check for dislocation or other problems with the hip joints.
Most well-baby checkups begin with measurements of your baby’s length, weight and head circumference. The measurements will be plotted on a growth chart to ensure proper weight gain and growth.