What Parents Need to Know
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Because your baby grows rapidly during these months, your questions may move from simple sleeping and eating concerns to those about physical development and motor skills. Your doctor will monitor your baby's progress and answer your questions.
Most likely your baby will now be seen at 4 months and at 6 months, but your doctor may have a different schedule for well-baby visits. Extra visits may be scheduled to check on a problem found earlier.
Many parents call the doctor more often about suspected colds or ear infections during these months, especially in wintertime. Once babies can reach out and grab objects, and start having contact with more people, they can be at increased risk for contagious illness, particularly if entering childcare or if they have older siblings. Also, much of the immunity that they received from their mothers before birth is "wearing off" now.
Well-baby visits vary from doctor to doctor, but here are some common elements of a checkup:
Sometime during the 6 months before their first birthday babies are checked for anemia (low red blood cell count — usually due to iron deficiency at this age). This can be done with a simple finger prick to collect a drop of blood for examination. Other than this test, most babies do not need any routine laboratory tests in the first year of life.
Bring to the doctor any questions or concerns you may have at this time. Make sure to write down any specific instructions you receive regarding special baby care. Keep updating your child's permanent medical record, listing information on growth and any problems or illnesses.
Immunizations generally given at the 4-month visit:
At the 6-month visit, your baby may receive:
Colds and other illnesses are a part of growing up. Your baby is beginning to explore and probably is being exposed to other kids. While it's hard to see your baby fight a stuffy nose or suffer with an ear infection, rest assured that most kids grow out of the frequent-illness stage (though perhaps not for some time).
Meanwhile, these safeguards can help keep your baby well:
Call your doctor right away if your baby seems lethargic or less energetic, refuses to eat, suddenly has trouble sleeping, has diarrhea, or is vomiting. Also, a temperature over 101ºF (38.3ºC) should be reported to the doctor immediately, even if your baby seems well otherwise.
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: September 2011