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 child's doctor and/or nurse will start by checking your toddler's length, weight and circumference of their head. They will then plot the measurements on a growth chart. Then your physician will also calculate and plot your child's body mass index (BMI). Your doctor may administer a screening test that will help detect the early identification of autism, as well as tests for lead exposure, anemia, high holesterol and tuberculosis, if needed.

Your child's doctor and/or nurse will perform a physical exam with your child (undressed) with you in the room. This exam will include an eye and tooth exam, as well as listening to the heart and lungs and paying attention to your child's motor skills, use of language and behavior. Your baby may receive updated immunizations at this checkup. Immunizations can protect kids from serious childhood illnesses, so it's important that your child receive them on time. Immunization schedules can vary from office to office, so talk to your doctor about 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

Don't be shocked if your child chooses to skip meals occasionally or they really love something one day and then won't eat it the next day. Schedule three meals each day along with two or three nutritious snacks. You're in charge of your child's menu, but let your child be in charge of how much they eat. Most children are ready to begin potty training between ages two and three. Here are some signs that you may have noticed that your child is ready to start potty training, including:

  • Showing interest in the toilet (watching a parent or sibling in the bathroom, or sitting on a potty chair)
  • Staying dry for longer periods of time
  • Pulling pants down and up (with a little assistance)
  • Connecting the feeling of having to go with peeing and pooping
  • Communicating that their diaper is full or wet

Additionally, two-year-olds usually need around 13 hours of sleep per day, including one nap.

Pediatric development

By age two, it's pretty common for many children to:

  • Say more than 50 words
  • Put two words together to form simple sentences like, "Here I am."
  • Be understood by adults at least 50% of the time
  • Follow a simple two- to three-step command
  • Run well
  • Kick a ball
  • Walk down stairs
  • Make lines and circular scribbles
  • Play alongside other children

Looking ahead

Here are some things to keep in mind about feeding, learning and safety until your next routine visit at 30 months.

Food "jags" are common during the toddler years. Even if your child seems to get stuck on one food, continue to offer a variety of nutritious choices. You need to limit sugary drinks and unhealthy snacks. Switch to low-fat or nonfat milk and other low-fat and nonfat dairy products. Limit juice to no more than four to six ounces (120-180 ml) a day.

Learning

Toddlers learn by interacting with parents, caregivers and their environment. Limit time in front of a TV (or other screens, including computers and smartphones) to no more than two hours per day of quality children's programming. Have a safe play area and allow plenty of time for exploring and active play. Additionally, try to read to your child every day.

Routine care and safety

Children may start brushing their teeth with a small amount of fluoride toothpaste (no more than the size of a pea). Allow your child to brush their teeth with your guidance. Help go over any areas that may have been missed. If you haven't already, schedule a dentist visit.

Watch for the signs that your child is ready to start ;potty training. If they don't show interest, it's alright to wait a few months before trying again. A child who uses the potty and is accident-free during the day may still need to use a diaper at night.

Tantrums are common for this age range. They tend to be worse when children are tired and/or hungry. Try to head off tantrums before they happen by distracting them or removing them from potentially frustrating situations.

Toddlers look for their independence and will normally test their boundaries. Be sure to establish reasonable and consistent rules. You will also want to reinforce positive behaviors. Don't spank your toddler. At this age, children don't make the connection between spanking and the behavior you are trying to correct. Instead, use a brief time-out to discipline your toddler, and explain to them why they are in a "time-out."

Children are generally ready to move from a crib to a regular bed (with safety rails) between two and three years of age. Use a forward-facing car seat with a harness in the back seat until your child reaches the highest weight or height limit allowed by the car-seat manufacturer or federal/state laws.

To prevent the risk of your child drowning, never leave your child alone in the bathtub or in a pool (no matter how shallow the water).

Protect your child from guns in your home. If you do have a gun, keep it unloaded and locked away. Ammunition should be locked up separately. Please make sure keys cannot be accessed by children.

Find a pediatrician close to home for your child's routine well-checks