Overview of Well-Child Checkups

Wellness exams, also called well-child visits, checkups, or physicals, are a key part of maintaining children's health. During early childhood, children grow and change rapidly and require frequent medical checkups (e.g., every couple of months). As children get older, visits with the pediatrician usually become less frequent (e.g., once per year), but they remain important for maintaining good health, right up through the teen years and into adulthood.

Doctor Checkup Image - Masterfile

Well-child visits are an opportunity for your child's pediatrician to

  • evaluate his/her growth and development,
  • administer immunizations,
  • assess existing medical conditions or identify new ones,
  • address health concerns and questions, and
  • provide important information about health care.

Recommendations for well-child visits vary slightly among national medical organizations. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests the following:

  • Newborns should see a pediatrician within 2–4 days after birth. Many pediatricians see babies who are breast fed in 2 or 3 days and babies who are bottle fed in 3 or 4 days. Breast-fed babies are typically seen a day earlier than bottle-fed babies to address any concerns parents have about breastfeeding and to monitor the breast-fed baby's weight. If the parents are experienced, some pediatricians schedule this first visit for when the baby is 1–2 weeks of age.
  • After this visit, infants and toddlers should be examined again by 1 month of age and then at the following ages:
    • 2 months
    • 4 months
    • 6 months
    • 9 months
    • 1 year
    • 15 months
    • 18 months
  • Toddlers and preschoolers should visit the doctor every year from the ages of two to five.
  • School-age children and adolescents should see the doctor at ages six, eight, and ten, and each year after age ten.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 27 Aug 2008

Last Modified: 13 Oct 2015