Healthy infants should be seen by their doctor often during the first year of life. Visits typically take place by 1 to 2 weeks, and at 2, 4, 6, 9, and 12 months of age. During these visits, the doctor monitors the infant's growth and development by measuring the infant's length, weight, and head circumference, and asking the parents questions about various developmental milestones. The doctor also examines the infant for various abnormalities, including signs of hereditary disorders. Hearing and vision are tested. Premature infants (infants who spent less than 37 weeks in the uterus) are regularly examined for retinopathy of prematurity, an eye disease (see Problems in Newborns: Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)). Finally, on many visits, the doctor vaccinates the infant against various illnesses.
Health care visits also allow the doctor to educate the parents about eating, sleeping, behavior, child safety, and good health habits. In addition, the doctor advises the parents what changes to expect in their infant by the next visit.
Last full review/revision November 2006 by Ruth A. Lawrence, MD