At your child’s 18-month checkup, his pediatrician will likely take all the usual measurements — height, weight and head circumference — to make sure he’s growing on the right track. As long as your child appears to be growing along a steady curve, everything’s just fine. If not, the doctor may ask you questions about your child’s nutrition and eating habits to be sure there aren’t any causes for concern. She’ll also do the usual physical exam, checking baby head to toe to see that his eyes, ears, nose, mouth, genitals — and everything else — look healthy.
Believe it or not, the doctor might have your child roam around the exam room to be sure his walking looks normal. She’ll probably also ask you a ton of questions about your child’s development.
Expect questions about how baby uses language. There’s a wide range, at this age, of what’s normal. Some 18-month-olds are putting two-word phrases together. Others are just saying “mama” and “dada” and a few other things (and yes, saying “ba” for bottle counts as a word). Your child should understand just about everything you tell him — well, everything important, that is. He should have an understanding of the world around him, such as that the broom goes in the broom closet and that the baby doll gets pushed in the stroller.
To understand how your toddler makes sense of his environment, the pediatrician may want to know how your toddler plays. Does he know how to manipulate doorknobs and know that a square block will fit into a square-shaped hole? Does he have the fine motor skills to stack blocks without them tipping over?
At this age, it’s normal for children to be interested in other kids, but not really talk to them (and instead look at them like they’re aliens!). But to gauge your child’s social development, the doctor may ask if there’s some adult (other than you and your partner) whom your child is attached to, such as a grandparent or day care teacher.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a test for autism, called the M-CHAT, or another autism screening at the 18-month and two-year appointments. The test will be a series of questions about your child’s behavior, such as: Does he get easily startled by loud noises? Does he seem to hear and understand you? And does he make strange movements (like arm flapping)? The doctor may also be observing your child for signs of autism, such as not making eye contact or not interacting with a parent.
Depending on the vaccine schedule you and your doctor have chosen for baby, he may get one or two shots this visit.
Your child’s pediatrician may also counsel you, giving you tips on how to get your toddler to eat veggies, how to prevent tantrums and how to make sure he’s been weaned off the bottle. She may let you know about common choking hazards (always be sure he’s _sitting down _while eating) and other dangers. And hopefully, she’ll reassure you that whatever you’re doing is working. Your child is growing and developing. Keep doing what you’re doing, mama.
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