Infant Well-Child Checks: Why Are They Important?

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After spending so many months pregnant and going to doctor's appointments, some new moms don't like the idea of continuing to do more well-child checks on the baby, especially after the newborn stage is passed. If your baby is not sick, why do these checks matter so much? Here are a few reasons why well-child visits to a family doctor are important.

1. It helps to maintain a vaccine schedule.

Vaccines are an essential part of your child's healthcare plan. Parents are encouraged to follow a regular vaccine schedule, starting at 2 months old, then 4, then 6, then 12 months. The dates coincide with well-child visits so it makes it less likely that parents will miss a dose of vaccines. Well-child visits can also be used to help monitor vaccine reactions. If you finish your visit with the doctor and then get your child vaccinated, your doctor will have a recent baseline to tell if a reaction or illness may be a result of a vaccine reaction.

2. Your doctor can catch troublesome problems early.

One of the main reasons why well-child visits are so important is because babies develop so quickly. Many troubling or even life threatening problems can develop very quickly, and these sometimes can be caught early with a thorough exam.

An example is eye development. Infants cannot see very well at birth, but their sight quickly develops over the next few months. If a babies eyes do not develop normally, they might need surgery to correct the vision problem, or they might need eye training from an ophthalmologist. If you miss well-child visits, you might not be able to catch eye trouble on your own. Your infant might struggle to develop the right eye coordination and lose a lot of future eye development that would have been possible with early intervention. 

3. Your doctor likes to monitor feeding, weight gains, and sudden losses. 

Some children may appear underweight, but if their weight follows an upward trend on their chart, your doctor may not be concerned. However, a sudden drop in weight can point to feeding problems or even and intestinal issue. Frequent well-child checks are more likely to catch these issues before they become medical emergencies, especially for babies who rely on milk for both calories and hydration. A well-child check may be when you discover a lip or tongue tie or acid reflux which can affect weight gain. After your child is on solids, these checks can help you assess any food allergies as well as balancing milk and liquids with new solids. 

Sudden weight gain can also be concerning, especially if the child was large at birth to begin with. A jump in weight can point to trouble properly digesting or managing blood sugar levels. 

4. You might need the support.

Well-child checks are not just for baby. The doctor likes to see you as well to ask you how things are going at home. Well-baby checks are your turn to express any concerns you might have about your baby, but they are also your opportunity to seek help for issues like postpartum depression and post-natal weight loss questions. During a well-child check your doctor will ask a little about home life, including how well baby is sleeping. The sleep question is not just for the baby's health; sometimes when a mother is overly exhausted, she is at a higher risk for developing depression. 

For more questions on well-child checks, contact a local family doctor in your area. These simple appointments can help set your baby on the path to a healthy life.