During these early months, you may have many questions about your baby's health. Most doctors have phone hours when you can call with routine questions, so don't hesitate to call with your concerns, no matter how small they may seem.
Of course, if you suspect illness, don't wait for phone hours — call your doctor immediately. As in the newborn period, illness at this age requires immediate attention.
You will most likely visit your doctor with your infant at least once every 2 months until your baby is about 6 months old. Not all doctors follow this routine, though, so ask about your doctor's well-baby checkup schedule.
Your infant is seen regularly to assess growth, feeding, and sleeping habits, among other things. These regular checkups also allow the doctor to follow up on any concerns from previous checkups and are a chance for you to ask questions about your baby's health or behavior.
What Happens at the Office Visit
During these early months, your doctor will check your baby's progress and growth. Common components of a checkup include:
- weight, length, and head circumference measurements that are plotted on your baby's own growth chart
- a physical exam with special attention to any previous problems
- assessment of physical and emotional development (for example, head control, vision, and social interaction)
- questions about how you are doing with your baby
- advice about feeding, vitamins, and other aspects of nutrition
- what to expect during the coming months, including a discussion of babyproofing your home
- immunizations during some visits
Address any questions you have, and write down the answers or specific instructions the doctor gives you. At home, update your baby's medical record, tracking growth and any problems or illnesses.
Immunizations Your Baby Will Receive
At 1-2 months old, your baby will receive the second dose of the hepatitis B vaccine (HBV) if the first dose was given just after birth. With combination vaccines, however, the 2-month visit may be the first time your baby receives any immunizations.
At 2 months (and again at 4 months), your baby will be given several immunizations:
- DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis)
- Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) vaccine
- IPV (polio vaccine)
- PCV (pneumococcal conjugate vaccine), given in a series of four shots over the first 15 months of life
- RV (rotavirus vaccine)
- possibly, HBV (hepatitis B vaccine)
Babies at high risk of developing a meningococcal disease, which can lead to bacterial meningitis and other serious conditions, may receive an additional vaccine. (Otherwise, the meningococcal vaccine is routinely given at 11-12 years old.)
Some of these safeguards against serious childhood illnesses can cause reactions (usually mild), such as fever or irritability. Be sure to discuss side effects with your doctor and get guidelines for when to call the office.
When to Call the Doctor
Some common medical problems at this age may need a doctor's attention, including:
- diarrhea and vomiting, which could be caused by an infection of the digestive tract and can put your infant at risk for dehydration
- ear infections. A baby with an ear infection may become irritable; fever may or may not be present.
- rashes, which are common in infants. Some may not seem to bother your baby, but skin conditions like eczema can result in dry, scaly patches that are itchy and uncomfortable. Your doctor can tell you which lotions, creams, and soaps to use.
- upper respiratory tract infections (including the common cold), which affect infants just like the rest of us. Since babies can't blow their own noses, you'll have to handle clearing mucus with a rubber bulb aspirator. Don't give your baby any medications without checking first with your doctor. Call the pediatrician's office immediately if baby develops a cough, refuses to eat, has a rectal temperature above 100.4ºF (38ºC), or is excessively cranky or sleepy.
Again, don't hesitate to contact the doctor's office about any health or behavior concerns.
Reviewed by: Steve Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: September 2011