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Q&a With Dr. Kristie Rivers: the 6-month Checkup

1. Bundoo: What does the six-month well-baby exam usually include? Is there anything, in particular, you advise parents to note or bring to your attention at this checkup?

Answer : Dr. Kristie Rivers: By 6 months, you likely have become used to the well-baby visits, and this check-up will be very similar to all the others. Your pediatrician will check your baby’s weight, length, and head size, then plot them on the growth chart to make sure your baby is growing well. You will also be asked questions about your child’s development, and as always, your baby will have a detailed physical exam to look for any problems.

Hopefully, you will also be given a chance to voice any concerns you may have. Big topics at this visit include feeding and sleeping. Be sure to let your doctor know if your baby is having any GI problems after starting solid foods, specifically constipation or diarrhea since these are common problems at this age with the diet changes. Also, talk to your baby’s doctor if you are having a hard time getting him or her to self-soothe at bedtime or you are still having to wake up at night every few hours.

2. What do you tell parents who are concerned about immunization at this stage, or have those concerns typically fallen by the wayside for most parents at this age?

Answer : Most parents who have concerns about vaccines will have had them addressed before the six-month visit. Of course, some parents will continue to worry about the side effects each time their little one gets shots. The good news is there are no new vaccines at this visit, and the potential side effects remain the same: fever, fussiness, not eating well, and a sore leg for a couple of days.

3. In terms of development, what are some of the questions a parent should be prepared to answer at this checkup? Should a baby be teething, sitting up, or eating solids at this point?

Answer : At the 6-month visit, pediatricians want to make sure your baby is developing normally, both physically and socially. Every baby develops at his or her own pace, but it is important to make sure babies are meeting general developmental milestones. So while it doesn’t really matter if a baby has teeth at this point, pediatricians do want to make sure the baby has enough trunk control to sit up. By 6 months, a baby should be able to sit, meaning that he or she has enough head and trunk control to sit in the high chair and eat solid foods. Babies at this age should also be social creatures, so be prepared to answer questions, such as “Does your baby babble? Find things funny? Get a little wary of strangers? Like to interact with others?” Being honest with your baby’s doctor and voicing your concerns about your baby’s development is of utmost importance at this visit, since you may offer clues to a problem that your doctor might not pick up in a 15-minute visit.

4. Imagine you were a parent going to visit the doctor for a six-month checkup, how would you get ready for it?

Answer : Write down all your questions! You may have a hundred questions but can’t remember a single one when you get into the office. It’s always best to be prepared before you go in with a list of your concerns about how to start solids, how much your baby should be sleeping, when your baby will get her first tooth, etc. As a pediatrician, I always appreciate when a parent comes in with a list of questions because I feel satisfied at the end of the visit that I have addressed all concerns.

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