Even when things are going well, regular checkups during the first two years can keep your baby happy and healthy. During well-baby visits, you find out about your baby's growth, weight gain, health and immunizations, as well as whether your baby is meeting normal development goals.
Most babies have their first checkup within a few weeks of birth. After this, regular well-baby appointments help you make sure your baby's development is on track. They also let your baby's health provider check up on areas of concern.
Usually, a baby sees the provider for a well-baby visit at least once every two months during the first six months (at about 2, 4, and 6 months old). After this, it's common to have visits scheduled at 9, 12, 15, 18, and 24 months old.
Different providers have their own schedules and routines, of course. Be sure to ask your baby's health care provider about the regular schedule for well-baby visits. Also remember that extra visits may be needed if a problem is found.
As your baby grows, the provider will be looking for different things during the visits. Common parts of any well-baby checkup are:
Schedule the next well-baby visit. Make sure you know how to reach the provider between visits if you're concerned about a problem, illness or unusual behavior. Call the health care provider right away if your baby:
Last reviewed March 2008
Tiny organisms (like viruses and bacteria) can attack your body and cause infections that make you sick. When you get an infection, your body makes special disease-fighting substances called antibodies to fight the organism. In many cases, once your body has made antibodies against an organism, you become immune to the infection it causes. Immune means you are protected against getting an infection. If you're immune to an infection, it means you can't get the infection.
Vaccines usually have a small amount or piece of the organism that causes an infection. The organisms used in vaccines are generally weakened or killed so they won’t make you sick. The vaccine causes your body to make antibodies against the organism. This allows you to become immune to an infection without getting sick first.
Some vaccines have a live but weakened organism. These are called live-virus vaccines. While live-virus vaccines are usually safe for most babies and adults, they’re not generally recommended for pregnant women.
See also: Vaccinations and pregnancy, Your baby’s vaccinations
As soon as your baby's first tooth appears, start brushing with water. Later, when she is old enough to spit, introduce toothpaste. When you use toothpaste, make it a small (pea-sized) amount of a non-fluoride brand. Don't use a toothpaste with fluoride until your child is 2 years old, unless recommended by her dentist. Don't give her fluoride mouth rinses until she's 6. Start flossing as soon as two teeth start to touch each other.
So when should you actually take her to the dentist? The American Dental Association recommends that your baby get her first dental visit within 6 months of getting her first tooth and no later than her first birthday. The dentist checks the shape of your baby's mouth, teeth and gums and looks for signs of damage caused by thumb sucking. Maintaining dental health early can help protect your baby's teeth for a lifetime.