By now you are probably getting used to what to expect at your well-baby visits. Well-baby visits are important routine examinations. The doctor will check your baby’s physical growth and development. If there are any problems, they can be discovered and addressed early. If not, you will be reassured about your baby’s health! The well-baby visits are also a great time for exchanging information. You will provide the doctor with important information, and the doctor will give you helpful information, as well. Here are some things to expect during your child’s four-month well-baby visit:
1. Measurements of weight, length, and head circumference will be taken. These measurements are the most obvious ways to determine if your baby is getting enough to eat and growing correctly. The pediatrician will continue to plot these measurements on a growth chart that is updated at each visit to track your child’s growth. Comparing your child’s growth from one visit to the next will help the doctor see if there is a consistent and appropriate rate of growth. The chart will also show the percentiles at which your child’s measurements fall, which simply compares his or her size to that of other babies the same age.
2. The soft spots on the top and back of the head will be checked. The soft spot on the back of the head usually closes by the age of 5 months. The one on top will close by about 18 months.
3. The eyes, ears, and mouth will be checked for any irregularities. The doctor will shine a light into the baby’s eyes to check for pupil dilation.
4. The doctor will listen to the lungs, heart, and belly with a stethoscope. This part of the exam will help determine if there are any breathing problems or heart murmurs/irregularities. He or she will also feel baby’s belly area to make sure there is no swelling of the internal organs.
5. Diaper area will be checked for any swelling or lumps.
6. Legs and hips will be rotated to check for hip dysplasia or other joint or movement problems.
7. Temperature and reflexes may also be checked.
8. There will be vaccinations given at the 4-month visit. Vaccinations are very important to baby’s health, but painful for the moment! The doctor should give you information about each vaccination that your baby needs. Be prepared to hold your baby’s hands during the shots, and to hold and comfort baby after the shots are given. You may want to give baby some Tylenol (acetaminophen) to help with the pain. Ask your doctor about the correct dosage.
9. The pediatrician will ask you some questions about your baby. These may include questions about frequency of feedings, and urination and bowel movements. He or she will also ask you about developmental milestones, such as holding up head and chest when lying on tummy, smiling and laughing out loud, making babbling sounds, grasping a rattle, reaching for objects, and turning toward sounds.
10. Some doctors recommend starting solid foods between the ages of 4 and 6 months. Your doctor is likely to talk to you about that, and help you know how and when to start introducing baby food.
11. You will also be able to ask questions of the pediatrician. It is a good idea to write down any questions you have before you go for the visit. It is often difficult to remember questions when you are in the office and taking in a lot of information at once. You should also ask any questions that come to mind during the exam. If you do not understand something, go ahead and ask for clarification so you will not leave confused. If you have any concerns about your baby’s health or development, you should ask! If you have any questions about feeding, sleeping, bathing, or any aspect of baby’s care, you should ask! When you are at a well-baby visit, you have your doctor’s time and attention, so take advantage of it.
Your child’s four-month well-baby visit will help you to see if your baby is healthy and growing well. It is a time for providing your doctor with important information, and for receiving important information from your doctor. Finding out that baby is doing well is very reassuring for parents. If there does happen to be a health problem, it is best to find out so that it can be treated. Good preventative care will give your child a great, healthy start to life.