Medical Care and Your 4- to 7-Month-Old
Babies really begin to show their personality during these months. So you might find yourself talking to your baby's doctor less about sleeping and eating and more about physical and social development.
Most likely your baby will now be seen at 4 months and at 6 months, but your doctor may schedule extra visits to check on any problems found earlier.
Colds and ear infections can become more common at this age, especially in winter. Once babies can reach out and grab objects and start having contact with more people, they can be at increased risk for contagious illnesses, especially if they're in childcare or have older siblings.
What to Expect at the Office Visit
Well-baby checkups vary from doctor to doctor, but usually will include:
- Measurement of your baby's length, weight, and head circumference. Growth will be plotted on a growth chart, and you'll be advised of the progress.
- A physical exam.
- A review of your baby's development through both observation and your progress report. Can your baby hold up his or her head? Is your tot rolling over? Sitting with or without support? Can he or she transfer an object from hand to hand? Respond to own name? Has your baby started to babble? Your doctor may ask you these questions and more.
- You may be asked how you are doing with your baby and how the rest of the family is doing. Your doctor may go over safety questions with you: Have you babyproofed your home? Is your little one in an appropriate safety seat while in the car?
- A discussion of your baby's eating habits, including the likelihood that solid foods will be introduced soon.
- Advice on what to expect in the coming months.
- Your baby will receive immunizations during some visits.
Bring to the doctor any questions or concerns you may have at this time. Make sure to write down any specific instructions you receive regarding special baby care. Keep updating your child's medical record, listing information on growth and any problems or illnesses.
Immunizations Your Baby Will Receive
Immunizations usually given at the 4-month visit:
- second diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccine
- second Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine
- second polio vaccine (IPV)
- second pneumococcal conjugate (PCV) vaccine
- second rotavirus (RV) vaccine
At the 6-month visit, your baby also may get (depending on the brand of vaccine given, and whether your child has had earlier doses):
- the third DTaP vaccine
- the third polio vaccine (IPV)
- the third hepatitis B vaccine
- the third Hib vaccine
- the third PCV vaccine
- the third rotavirus (RV) vaccine
- a flu shot
Babies at high risk of developing a meningococcal disease, which can lead to bacterial meningitis and other serious conditions, may receive an additional vaccine. (Otherwise, kids usually get the meningococcal vaccine at 11–12 years old.)
When to Call the Doctor
Colds and other illnesses are a part of growing up. Your baby is beginning to explore and probably is being exposed to other kids. While it's hard to see your baby fight a stuffy nose or suffer with an ear infection, rest assured that most kids grow out of the frequent-illness stage as they build their immunity.
Meanwhile, these safeguards can help keep your baby well:
- Breastfeeding your baby will provide antibodies and enzymes that help protect against illness.
- Try to keep your baby away from kids you know are sick, especially those with infectious diseases such as the flu.
- Family members who are sick should not share food or drink with the baby, and they should wash their hands well before handling the baby and your tot's toys.
- Stay up to date with your baby's vaccines. Stick to the immunization schedule recommended by your doctor.
Call your doctor if your baby has a fever, is acting sick, refuses to eat, suddenly has trouble sleeping, has diarrhea, or is vomiting.