MSD Manual

Please confirm that you are not located inside the Russian Federation

honeypot link

Preventive Health Care Visits in Infants


Deborah M. Consolini

, MD, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital

Full review/revision Jul 2021 | Modified Sep 2022
Topic Resources

Healthy infants should be seen by their doctor often during the first year of life. Preventive health care visits (also called well-child visits) typically take place within a few days after birth or by 2 weeks of age and at 1, 2, 4, 6, and 9 months of age. During these visits, the doctor uses age-specific guidelines to monitor the infant's growth and development Physical Growth of Infants and Children Physical growth refers to an increase in body size (length or height and weight) and in the size of organs. From birth to about age 1 or 2 years, children grow rapidly. After this rapid infant... read more and asks the parents questions about various developmental milestones ( see Table: Developmental Milestones From Birth to Age 12 Months* Developmental Milestones From Birth to Age 12 Months* Developmental Milestones From Birth to Age 12 Months* ). Tests are sometimes done, and during many visits, the doctor vaccinates the infant against various illnesses ( see Childhood Vaccination Schedule Childhood Vaccination Schedule Most doctors follow the vaccination schedule recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC—see the schedule for infants and children and the schedule for older children... read more ).

Health care visits also allow the doctor to educate the parents about eating, sleeping, behavior, child safety, nutrition, exercise, and good health habits. In addition, the doctor advises the parents what developmental changes to expect in their infant by the next visit.


The eyes are examined, and vision is tested. Infants who were born very prematurely (before the completion of 32 weeks of development in the uterus) usually need more frequent eye examinations by an eye specialist to look for retinopathy of prematurity Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) Retinopathy of prematurity is a disorder of premature infants in which the small blood vessels in the back of the eye (retina) grow abnormally. Retinopathy of prematurity is strongly associated... read more , which is an eye disease that occurs when infants are born before the blood vessels in their eyes are fully developed and may result in blindness, and for the development of refractive errors Refractive Disorders in Children In refractive disorders, the eye is not able to properly focus images on the retina, causing blurred vision. Refractive disorders result in blurring of vision. Children may be unable to make... read more , which result in blurring of vision. These disorders are more common among infants in this age group.


Screening tests are done to assess whether infants are at risk of certain disorders.


At these visits, the doctor gives parents age-appropriate safety guidelines.

The following safety guidelines apply to infants from birth to age 12 months:

  • Use a rear-facing car seat and place it in the back seat of the vehicle.

  • Set the hot water heater to 120° F or less.

  • Prevent falls from changing tables and around stairs.

  • Place infants on their back to sleep, use a firm mattress, do not share a bed, and do not place pillows, bumper pads, stuffed animals, or blankets in the crib.

  • Do not give infants foods and objects that can cause choking or be inhaled into the lungs.

  • Do not use baby walkers.

  • Place safety latches on cabinets and cover electrical outlets.

  • Remain alert when watching infants in the bathtub or near a pool or any body of water and when they are learning to walk.

Some Recommendations Regarding the Use of Infant and Child and Car Seats

Nutrition and exercise

quiz link

Test your knowledge

Take a Quiz!