A young mother taking her child to a well-child visit with at the pediatric clinic

Well-Child Visits: What First-Time Parents Need To Know

From the moment they’re born, children grow and change rapidly. While children don’t come with instructions, well-child visits are a great way of tracking their progress and ensure they have everything they need to live their best lives. This might seem overwhelming if you’re a first-time parent, but well-child visits are one of your greatest tools.

Another name for a checkup, a well-child check is a doctor’s appointment to make sure children are developing normally. By understanding when you should schedule visits, what doctors check for, and the benefits of routine well-child checks, you’ll be armed with the knowledge necessary for making informed decisions about your children’s health.

When Should I Schedule Well-child Visits?

For young children and newborns, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends well-child visits at these ages:

  • 3 to 5 days
  • 1 month
  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • 6 months
  • 9 months
  • 1 year
  • 15 months
  • 18 months
  • 2 years
  • 30 months or 2.5 years
  • 3 years

That might seem like a lot, but children constantly develop and hit important milestones during this period. After that developmental window, they recommend one preventative health check every year through age 21.

Preparing For a Well-Child Visit

Even if your child appears to be developing normally, never be afraid to ask questions or raise concerns. When you think of questions, write them down or make a note on your phone. It could be something as simple as a question about weight or a more complex topic such as diet and nutrition.

However, if you have concerns that might require a special test or lengthy conversation, inform the doctor’s office ahead of time. This way, the office can schedule the doctor appropriately so you have a full, productive visit.

For children in daycare, school, or preschool, remember to bring any forms that need to be signed. 

What Do Doctors Check for in a Well-child Visit?

Physical Screening

While what a pediatrician checks for in a well-child visit is largely determined by the child’s age, every visit includes a head-to-toe physical examination with a review of growth. This includes recording head circumference, weight, length, eyesight, and hearing. Along with those physical traits, nurses and doctors ask about sleep schedule, feeding, digestion, and emotional wellbeing.

Developmental Monitoring, Screening, and Evaluation

Monitoring, screening,  and evaluation sound like synonyms, but in the world of child development, they’re three different tools.

Developmental monitoring is largely done by caregivers. During initial well-child visits, a doctor might let you know what to expect and look out for in the coming months. If you’re a first-time parent, a doctor may give you a list of milestones and timeframes to observe.

Developmental screening typically begins around the child’s nine-month checkup. 

During the well-child visit, you’ll fill out a questionnaire based on observations you made during monitoring. Specifically, it may ask you about:

  • Early speech and comprehension
  • Sitting without support
  • Standing by pulling up
  • Walking by balancing on furniture or with aid
  • Grasping
  • Waving
  • Playing games like peekaboo

Doctors use these actions to track early childhood development and screen for potential disorders. However, remember that every child is different. If a child doesn’t hit every milestone, that doesn’t necessarily mean they have a disorder. Always consult your doctor over any concerns.

Screening also includes checking for developmental disorders through validated tests. For instance, pediatricians screen children for autism spectrum disorders at 18 and 24 months. When children have higher risks of developmental disorders due to factors like preterm birth or low birth weight, doctors may do these screens more often.

In the event that a child is suspected of having developmental issues, doctors might perform or recommend developmental evaluations. These tests are meant to find the root cause of developmental disorders and treat them as early as possible.


A well-child check also frequently includes vaccines. Though this list isn’t comprehensive before they’re 18 months old, children typically receive vaccines for:

  • Influenza
  • Polio
  • Measles, mumps, and rubella
  • Tetanus
  • Hepatitis B

For more information on the vaccine timetable and dosage schedule, ask your doctor about the CDC-recommended childhood immunization schedule.

Parental Health and Resources

Medical staff may also inquire about your own wellbeing. This part isn’t necessarily an official evaluation of you as a parent—pediatricians know how tough being a first-time parent can be. If you need any support, they likely know about groups, literature, practices, and products that might make life a little easier.

Why Should I Schedule Routine Well-Child Checks?

According to a report published by the CDC, the first eight years of a child’s life are critical to development. 

Following the recommended schedule of well-child visits during this period gives you the knowledge and means to shape a child into a healthy adolescent in four ways:

  1. Immunizations and physical screenings are preventative. When a child is physically healthy, their brain development often follows suit.
  2. Well-child visits give parents and doctors a record of physical and cognitive development. This allows you to tailor your child’s diet and routine around what’s best for them.
  3. When following the checkup schedule, parents have ample opportunities to discuss concerns with doctors. For first-time parents, this means a sounder mind and more confidence in their abilities.
  4. Perhaps the greatest reason to schedule routine checkups is due to the fact that they encourage healthy relationships. By working with your child’s healthcare team frequently and openly, you’re giving your child a solid, expansive, and informed support network.

Schedule a Well-child Check Today

Don’t let constant worrying make you feel isolated and unsure as a parent. Visit Minis Pediatric Walk-in Clinic in Oak Lawn, Illinois, for support backed by our team of pediatric doctors and nurses. From newborn health to pediatric testing and vaccination, we’re committed to shaping healthy children, parents, and families. Contact us today for a consultation or to schedule regular well-child checks.

Scroll to Top