Learn which routine vaccines to expect at the 1-year visit.
"Babies receive immunizations against measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (chicken pox) at their 1-year checkup," says Dr. Melanie Mouzoon, director of Immunization Practices and Travel Medicine at the Kelsey-Seybold Clinic in Houston. These immunizations are either given as one shot, known as MMR-V, or two, MMR and varicella. Your child will also receive the Hepatitis A vaccine, the first in a two-dose series.
Make sure your child is up-to-date on all other vaccines.
"You may be offered the opportunity to receive other vaccines to either complete your child's immunizations early or to catch up on vaccines they may have missed," Dr. Melanie Mouzoon says. These vaccines can include the Hepatitis B vaccine, DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis), HIB (Haemophilus influenzae type B), IPV (inactivated polio vaccine), and Prevnar. Dr. Mouzoon notes that many physicians prefer to offer those vaccines at the 15- or 18-month visit. You may also want to consider the flu shot if it is influenza season. "While this seems like a lot of shots, it has been shown that receiving multiple vaccines at a single visit is both safe and effective, and also that children are no more stressed receiving several shots than one shot at any visit," Dr. Mouzoon says.
Be prepared for the nurse's exam before you see the doctor.
The visit will generally start with height and weight measurements. The nurse will check your child's vital signs, ask about your concerns, and provide basic immunization information. "Some pediatricians prefer the child to be undressed or in just a diaper for the visit," Dr. Melanie Mouzoon says. The nurse will let you know which the doctor prefers.
Know what your doctor will be looking for at this visit.
"At all checkups, your pediatrician should be checking your child's growth and developmental milestones," Dr. Melanie Mouzoon says. "The doctor will gather a lot of information from watching you and your child, so don't feel like you have to put away the books or toys during the visit. Most doctors spend about five minutes talking about what the baby is learning and what behaviors are problematic for you. This casual period before the actual exam will also help your child adjust to the doctor for a fuss-free exam.
Prepare a list of questions before your visit.
It's important to come to your doctor's visit prepared with a list of concerns about your child's health. The doctor will be busy examining your child and talking through routine concerns and questions, but may not address all of your concerns unless you bring them up. "If you write down your questions, you will be less likely to leave with them unanswered," Dr. Melanie Mouzoon says. "If you have a lot of concerns, it helps to let the office staff know when you book the appointment so they can allow for extra time on the schedule." You have the doctor's undivided attention, so make the most of it.
Cover all the important areas.
Dr. Melanie Mouzoon suggests thinking through these general categories before the visit so you're sure to have all of your questions answered:
* Discipline methods
* Safety issues
* Routines, including bedtime, baths, snacks, and meals
* Dental hygiene and checkups
* Feeding issues, including self-feeding and food transitions
Bring along a toy or book to entertain your child.
Dr. Melanie Mouzoon suggests bringing along a book or toy to make the wait to see the doctor more fun for you and your little one. "You want your child to enjoy the visit and to trust the doctor to help with problems," she says. Establishing a fun atmosphere at the doctor's office will help your child learn to trust -- not fear -- the doctor.
Never speak negatively about shots or other procedures.
It's a good idea to prep your child in advance that he may need a shot, but never communicate your own fear of needles or pain. "Also, never tell your child to behave or the doctor will give her a shot," Dr. Melanie Mouzoon says. She recommends bringing along a pinwheel or other toy and telling your child to "blow away the pain."