Well-baby checks with your doctor are important because they assess if your baby’s development is on the right track or if additional support is needed. In my busy medical practice, worried parents often come in asking when do babies talk, walk, play, and interact (known as baby development milestones). More often than not, I am able to assure them that they are doing a wonderful job raising their baby. In fact, well-baby checks are a very rewarding part of my medical career.
Usually parents become worried when they compare their children to their peers or siblings at the same age. I have heard many worries such as “When do babies start talking?” “My child cannot say as many words as that child!” “Sophia’s sister was walking so much more gracefully at her age,” or “By this time her brother was able to use a spoon!”. I also often see parents compare their babies development milestones to others children.
In well-baby check-ups, family doctors and pediatricians assess for 5 baby developmental milestones:
- Gross Motor – Can they sit up? Crawl? Walk? Run? Jump?
- Fine Motor – Can they grasp? Pinch? Throw? Draw?
- Speech – Can they babble? Words? How many?
- Cognition – Stranger anxiety? Peek-a-boo? Know body parts? Symbolic play?
- Social – Social smile? Emotions? Shared attention?
An estimated 15% of children in the United States have at least one developmental delay with the most common being speech and language. Although there are times when children are expected to achieve certain milestones, each child can differ in how quickly they reach that milestone. Even twins can reach milestones at different ages and still go on to develop completely normal!
Well-baby checks are recommended at 1 week, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 12 months, 18 months, 2-3 years and 4-5 years. The reason for the frequent visits is because your doctor is most interested in the trends over time. It is much easier to assess someone when there is a concern if you know what their baseline healthy is already.
Each little baby is unique and you ARE doing a wonderful job raising your child your own unique way! If there are any concerns, do not hesitate to contact your pediatrician or family physician as early intervention is best in the case there is any developmental delay.
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This post was co-authored by Megan Crosby.
VITRIKAS K, Dillon S, & Merima B (2017). Developmental Delay: When and How to Screen.American Family Physician, 2017 Jul 1;96(1):36-43. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2017/0701/p36.html