Unless your baby is feeling sick, you may not think it is important for them to see their pediatrician. But as a parent, you can prevent issues from occurring in the first place. One of the best ways to ensure that you protect your baby from illness is to visit your pediatrician for routine wellness checkups.

Regular checkups, especially during early childhood, are immensely important for the best development of your baby. And, it is a simple step parents can take to ensure better health for their little one.

What will happen when my baby visits their pediatrician?

A well-baby visit is a time for your pediatrician to check on the health of your baby and make sure everything is developing normally. Your pediatrician will perform an exam, administer any recommended immunizations, discuss their diet and lifestyle and talk to you about developmental milestones. It is also the best time for you to bring up any questions and concerns you may have about your baby’s health — a pediatrician can offer more personalized advice than WebMD.

During the physical exam, your pediatrician may do a head-to-toe check looking at your baby’s head, eyes, ears, and mouth to make sure everything is developing normally. In addition, babies’ immune systems are just starting to develop, which can make them more susceptible to infections and viruses. Your pediatrician may check your baby’s chest and tummy to look for abnormal swelling, murmurs and wheezing. They may also push and pull your baby's legs up and out toward his or her tummy, checking for any congenital hip dislocations, feel their spine to make sure it is straight and check their skin for birthmarks and rashes.

Growth is another factor your pediatrician will address. A growth chart allows your pediatrician to see how your baby is growing compared to children of the same age and gender. By monitoring height, weight and head circumference growth patterns, your doctor can address a multitude of conditions before any other symptoms arise.

Well-baby visits also allow pediatricians to monitor your baby’s sleeping patterns, which is likely a main concern for you, too! Your pediatrician can offer advice for any sleeping problems you are experiencing.

At their checkup, your baby may receive regularly scheduled immunizations that are proven to prevent a multitude of diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), vaccines not only protect your baby, but also help to protect future generations from diseases. More importantly, vaccines are more effective when administered on-schedule. That is just one example of the power of prevention.

How often does my baby need a checkup?

Does it feel like your baby doubled in size overnight? Well, that is because early childhood is a time of rapid growth and development, which is why children require more checkups than adults. The first well-baby visit usually occurs a few days after your baby is born and continues until they reach adulthood. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends babies get checkups at birth, 3 to 5 days after birth and then at 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 24 and 30 months, after which, visits become yearly.

When it comes to well-baby visits, even if your baby is healthy, sticking to a schedule is important. Children who miss visits are at a higher risk of hospital admission due to something preventable. We want to help parents prioritize and organize visits so we created a well-child checkup tracker to help you stay on schedule.

Overcoming Obstacles to Well-Baby Visits

Are you busy? There are so many recommended well-baby visits in a short period of time, which can overwhelm parents. It is easy to neglect an appointment and say, “Oh, I’ll just go to the next one.” But your baby is missing valuable screenings, immunizations and provider education on growth and development. To help our members stay on schedule, we periodically reach out to parents with children younger than 15 months to remind them to stay on schedule.

Is your child scared of the doctor? Bring their favorite toy or offer a reward for going to ease their anxiety and calm their fears over doctor visits.

Are you worried about cost? The Compass Rose Health Plan is committed to supporting our members and their families address their baby’s health, well-being, nutrition, safety and more. Under the Compass Rose Health Plan, well-child visits are covered at 100% when visiting an in-network provider.

Remember: as a parent, it is your responsibility to ensure that your baby receives the care and attention they need. Contact your pediatrician’s office today to schedule your baby’s next appointment or use our Provider Directory to locate an in-network pediatrician near you.