FORT RUCKER, Ala. (August 29, 2013) -- The American Academy of Pediatrics, the U.S. Army Medical Command and Lyster Army Health Clinic recommend nine well-child visits during the first 18 months of life.

These visits should occur three to five days after birth, two to four weeks old, two months, four months, six months, nine months, 12 months, 15 months and 18 months old.

"This seems like a lot of visits, but these well-child visits are absolutely imperative for the monitoring of your child's growth and development," said Capt. John Berry, pediatrician at LAHC. "As any parent knows, your baby changes and develops so much and so rapidly during this period, from a newborn, who sleeps and eats all day, to the toddler, who is exploring their world faster than you are ready for."

Even for seasoned parents who already have children, bringing a new baby into the world means he or she will have unique medical experiences, Berry said.

Although LAHC is not able to deliver babies, all newborns should be enrolled to their primary care manager within 45 days of birth.

All well-child checkups consist of a full exam, growth evaluation and developmental assessment. Some will include vision and hearing exams, anemia screening and immunizations.

Well-child visits are not just for immunizations; rather these visits help to differentiate a trend from an absolute problem, Berry said.

"A trend of small weight percentiles is much more reassuring than a new patient with minimal weight gain for his or her age," he said. "Identifying a problem early helps to improve chances of recovery or correction of the problem."

The well-child visit also helps parents know where their child stands developmentally and how they will progress.

"These appointments are also unique because it helps us monitor the health of the Family, especially with the unique challenges Families face in the Army," Berry said. "We want parents who may often feel they take on more of the child care responsibility, such as during deployments or heavy training schedules, to know they are not alone and that we are here for them."

To schedule your child's next well-child visit or to enroll your child with a primary care manager, call 255-7000.