With the COVID-19 outbreak still going on in the community, new parents may wonder: Can we delay the baby checkup schedule a little bit? The baby is eating well and is healthy. Is it worth going out? The answer is that the well-baby visit schedule — the appointments in a child’s first two years of life — are incredibly important and should be kept on time.
When to take baby to the doctor — and why are well-baby visits so important?
In the first two years of a child’s life, there are a lot of milestones. The first time a baby smiles, laughs, takes first steps or says first words can melt your heart; these milestones also can tell your pediatrician a lot about how your child is developing. That is why the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends a schedule for well-baby visits in the first two years at various ages, including:
- The first week visit (3 to 5 days old)
- 1 month old
- 2 months old
- 4 months old
- 6 months old
- 9 months old
- 12 months old
- 15 months old
- 18 months old
- 2 years old (24 months)
It may seem like a lot of visits relatively close together, but a lot of development happens for babies in a short amount of time.
“These visits are important for many reasons,” said Mark A. Brockman Jr., M.D., pediatrician with Norton Children’s Medical Group – Iroquois. “We examine a child from head to toe and make sure they are in good health and on track.”
These visits provide babies with immunizations (shots) and can track development, but also provide parents with the opportunity for early interventions. These visits are crucial to spotting any issues that could possibly be corrected or need specialist care, including hernias, undescended testicles and heart murmurs. Early identification of any hearing or language deficits or developmental delays can happen during these visits as well.
“For example, if your child is at risk for hip dislocation (congenital hip dysplasia) and it’s caught early, it could be corrected,” Dr. Brockman said. “These visits give pediatricians the chance to make sure these types of interventions and screenings can happen early. The sooner a child gets care, no matter the issue, the better.”
Norton Children’s Medical Group
It’s safer to keep your well-baby visit schedule
The pediatric primary care offices of Norton Children’s Medical Group, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, and all Norton Children’s facilities have implemented the following practices for office visits and medical center appointments to keep patients and staff safer:
- All patients and staff will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms prior to entering. Patients suspected of having COVID-19 symptoms are immediately isolated to reduce risk of exposure.
- Providers and staff will wear personal protective equipment at all times.
- All patients (and parents/guardians of pediatric patients) should arrive wearing a mask or cloth face covering from home. If you do not have one, one will be provided for you. Children under 2 years old should not wear a face mask and will not be required to do so.
- Families may be asked to wait in their vehicles or outside the office and call or text the office before coming in.
- Spacing within open waiting areas has been modified to allow safer social distancing.
- After-visit summaries and next-appointment scheduling are available electronically to minimize contact.
Parents can benefit from the well-baby visit schedule, too
“These visits are just as crucial for parents, too,” Dr. Brockman said. “It’s a chance for you to build a relationship with your pediatrician. You can ask any questions and get reassurance about how your baby is progressing. Having a new baby can be stressful during the best of times, so now it’s even more important for families to stay in touch with their pediatricians so they can get the help they need, too.”