What Parents Need to Know
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As your baby becomes more independent and mobile, your questions for your child's doctor may have more to do with bumps, bruises, and behavior than with anything else.
You can't protect your baby from every knee-bump suffered while learning to walk. But you can make sure poisons and medicines are kept where kids can't possibly get to them and provide a safe environment for exploration.
Your baby is probably hearing "no" a lot these days while exploring boundaries; soon, you'll hear that word back from your little one! Be consistent but loving while teaching the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behavior.
Doctors often have their own schedules for well-baby visits, but most will generally see a baby twice during this stage, once at 9 months and again at 12 months.
If you have missed any immunizations, or if a problem has been detected that needs special attention, additional visits may be scheduled.
The well-baby visits at 9 and 12 months are pretty similar to the exams that have taken place so far, although your discussions with your doctor about behavior and habits may become more frequent.
Expect these common procedures and questions:
Depending on where they live and the potential risk of tuberculosis, sometimes babies at about 1 year of age undergo a tuberculin skin test. You'll be given instructions on how to monitor the test and asked to return to the office for the nurse or doctor to check the results of the test. Discuss possible vaccine reactions with your doctor and when to call with unusual problems.
During appointments, raise any questions or concerns you have and jot down any instructions the doctor gives you about special baby care. Keep updating your child's permanent medical record, listing information on growth and any problems or illnesses.
If your baby missed immunizations at previous visits because of illness or scheduling problems, he or she will probably be brought up-to-date now.
Because your baby is becoming more and more mobile and is in contact with other kids more often, you'll want to make sure immunizations are given as close to the recommended times as possible. This is especially true if your baby goes out of your home for childcare.
Because more immunizations than ever are given to kids by 2 years of age, doctors are spacing vaccinations so that they won't need more than three to four shots per well-baby visit.
From the Recommended Childhood Immunization Schedule of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP):
Your baby also may receive:
This immunization schedule can vary depending on what combined vaccines your doctor uses.
You should feel comfortable enough with your doctor to call with questions and concerns that can't wait until the next scheduled visit. If your questions can wait, write them down so you don't forget. Of course, call the doctor immediately if your child has an injury or illness that needs attention.
Call the doctor right away if your baby seems especially sluggish, is refusing food or drink, is vomiting or has diarrhea, or has a temperature of 102.2ºF (39ºC) or higher.
At this age, developmental delays may cause concern, so contact your doctor if you suspect your child is not developing within the range of normal. Kids have their own timetable for crawling, talking, and walking, so keep that in mind when checking for these signs of developmental progress by the first birthday.
Make sure your child:
Again, the absence of any of these signs may or may not be cause for concern. Share them with your doctor, though, because problems caught early can be treated more successfully.
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: September 2011