Part of parenting includes regular doctor visits for your child, including annual checkups. Keep reading to see what you can expect from your child's doctor and/or nurse.

Your pediatric doctor and/or nurse will check your toddler's length, weight and the circumference of their head. They will then plot the measurements on a growth chart and perform physicals with your child (undressed) with you in the room. Your doctor may also want to order tests that check for certain things (such as lead exposure, anemia or tuberculosis) if they feel like your child may be at risk.

Your baby will receive age-appropriate immunizations at this checkup. Immunizations can protect your child from serious childhood illnesses, so it's very important that your child receive them in a timely manner. Immunization schedules can vary a bit from doctor to doctor, so ask in advance what to expect.

Your pediatric doctor and/or nurse will ask you questions, address concerns, and offer their advice for your child regarding diet, dirty diapers and sleeping habits.

Milestone tips

By 12 months of age, most toddlers are ready to switch from baby formula to cow's milk. Toddlers may be breastfed past one year of age, if desired. But your child should be moving away from baby foods and may be more interested in eating table foods, so offer your child a variety of soft table foods and be sure to avoid foods that can be choking hazards. Be sure to share with your doctor if your child has diarrhea, is constipated or has stools that are hard to pass. When you introduce table foods and whole milk, the appearance and frequency of your child's poop will change. Additionally, one-year-old children need to sleep between 12-14 hours a day, which will include one or two daytime naps.

Pediatric development

By age one, it's normal for children to:

  • Follow simple one-step commands (such as, "Please bring me the comb.")
  • Say "Mama" and "Dada," and perhaps one or two more words
  • Pick up an object with their thumb and forefinger
  • Stand by themselves
  • Point at specific objects
  • Feed themselves using their own hands
  • Walk with one of their hands being held, or even alone
  • Enjoy a game of peek-a-boo, pat-a-cake or other fun, simple games

Looking ahead

Here are some things to remember about diet, discovery and safety until your child's next scheduled routine visit at 15 months.

Give your child whole milk (not low-fat or skim milk) until they are two years old. Limit your toddler's intake of cow's milk to 16-24 ounces (480-720 ml) per day. Transition from a baby bottle to a regular cup. If you're nursing your child, begin offering pumped breast milk in a cup. Serve them juice in a cup and limit it to no more than four ounces (120 ml) per day. Serve your child an iron-fortified cereal and increase iron-rich foods (such as sweet potatoes, strawberries and beans) in their daily diet. Serve your child three meals along with two or three nutritious snacks each day, and encourage self-feeding.

Don't be surprised if your child seems to eat less. Your child's growth will slow during the second year and their appetite will most likely decrease. Be sure to talk to your doctor if you're concerned about their eating habits. Avoid feeding foods to your child that put them at risk for chocking, such as: hot dogs, sausages, popcorn, raw veggies, pretzels, grapes, raisins, nuts, hard cheese, chunks of meat or hard fruits. Avoid drinks and/or foods that contain a lot of sugar.

Discovery

Babies are sponges and learn best by their interaction with people. Make time each day to play, read and talk with your child. TV viewing (or other screen-related times, including computers) interferes with brain development of young children. So TV is not recommended for children under two years of age. Make sure you have a safe play area and allow plenty of time for your child to explore.

Routine care and safety

Brush your toddler's teeth (without toothpaste) two times per day. Schedule a visit to the dentist soon after their first tooth appears (or by the time they turn one). Be sure to keep your child in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat until they are two years of age, or whenever they reach the weight or height limit set by the car seat manufacturer or by law. Avoid prolonged sun exposure by keeping your child covered and in the shade whenever possible. You should use (SPF 30) sunscreen if shade and clothing are not protecting your child directly from the sun.

Be very vigilant about childproofing your home by:

  • Installing safety gates and putting up drapes, cords and blinds.
  • Keeping locked up/out of reach: choking hazards; toxic substances; medicines; items that are sharp, hot or breakable.
  • Keeping emergency numbers, including poison control, near all landlines and storing them in your cell phone.
  • Preventing drowning by keeping closed bathroom doors shut tight, making sure that all toilet seats are down, and never leaving your child unsupervised for even a moment around water (especially baths).
  • Limiting your child's exposure to secondhand cigarette smoke. It's best if you can eliminate their exposure to secondhand smoke altogether to prevent increased risk of heart and lung disease.
  • Protecting your child from potential gun injuries by not keeping a gun in the home where a toddler may gain access. If you do have a gun, keep it unloaded and locked away, with the ammunition locked up separately. Make sure kids cannot access the keys to either of these.

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