Your children need regular preventive care from a doctor, sometimes called wellness visits or well-child visits. These checkups may include blood tests, height and weight measurements, and vaccines and will help track and protect your child’s health as he or she grows into an adult.
- Regular checkups from birth through age 18
- Scheduled immunizations
- Screenings for childhood diseases
You do not have to pay a copay for this care because it is preventive care and is covered under most, but not all, insurance plans. Plans available as part of the Affordable Care Act, must cover these services for children with no additional cost to you.
Your children will do best if you make sure they get well-child visits on a regular basis. This should start even before they're born. As a mom-to-be, you are entitled to prenatal visits. That gives you a chance to talk to a doctor about breastfeeding, child safety, and newborn care.
Well-child visits should follow this schedule:
- Right after your baby is born
- At 1 week old
- At 1 month old
- At 2 months old
- At 4 months old
- Every three months from 6 months old to 2 years old
- At 2 1/2 years old
- Every year from 3 years old until age 18
These visits for preventive care can be separate from other appointments.
Well-Child Checkups: Birth to Age 2
At every checkup, your child's doctor will look mostly for the same things:
- Your baby's growth by measuring her head, weight, and height
- Your baby's nourishment by talking about your baby's eating habits
- Your baby's physical development and movement
- Your baby's language development by listening to the sounds she makes and how she echoes sounds
- Your baby's socialization by talking with you about how she responds to you and to other people she comes in contact with
- Your baby's safety at home, away from home, and in the car, including immunizations
The nature of the exams will change somewhat depending on your baby's age.
Your child's doctor may do some specific screening tests or offer some preventive measures at specific well-child visits. Examples include:
- Fluoride supplements. If you live somewhere without fluoride in your water source, your pediatrician will prescribe fluoride supplements for your child starting at age 6 months at no cost to you.
- Autism screening. At almost every visit, the doctor looks for signs of autism based on what you say about your baby as well as by observing your child. A more formal test for autism happens twice -- at 18 months and at 24 months. At these times, your doctor will ask you to fill out a questionnaire about your baby's behavior and development.
- Lead screening. If you live in a house that was built before 1978, your pediatrician will test a small sample of your child's blood at 9-12 months and at 24 months to check the amount of lead in it.