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What to Expect at Baby’s 12-Month Checkup

Wondering what questions, procedures and immunizations to expect at baby’s 12-month checkup? Here’s everything to know.
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By Anisa Arsenault, Associate Editor
Updated July 13, 2023
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Baby is now one year old—and officially a toddler! This exciting age ushers in new milestones, like drinking out of sippy cups, sitting for longer periods of time and possibly even standing (or walking!). Once baby is a whole year old, it also means it’s time for their 12 month checkup with the pediatrician. Here’s what to expect at the one-year checkup, plus some tips to help you prepare.

What Happens at the 12 Month Checkup

The 12 month well visit will be similar to previous pediatrician appointments. It’ll involve a thorough physical and developmental evaluation to ensure baby’s growth is on track. “Parents should expect to complete a screening questionnaire and be asked questions about their child,” says Denise Scott, MD, an Oklahoma-based pediatrician and founder of Feed Future Health. “Any concerns by the pediatrician based on parents’ responses to the screening questionnaire will be addressed. You should also be prepared to address any concerns you have with your doctor.” Keep reading to learn more about what happens at the 12 month well visit.

Physical screenings at the 12 month checkup

During the 12 month well visit, your pediatrician will measure baby’s weight, height and head circumference, adding all these measurements to baby’s growth chart. “Typically an infant roughly triples their birth weight by this age,” Scott says. The soft spots on baby’s head (called fontanelles) will also be checked to ensure baby’s head shape is developing properly, adds Preeti Parikh, MD, a pediatrician in New York City. Additionally, baby’s heartbeat, lungs, genitals, reflexes, joints, eyes, vision, ears, hearing and mouth will all be checked. During the 12 month checkup baby will also undergo a blood test (usually through a finger prick) to test for anemia and lead, Scott adds.

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Milestone assessment at 12 months

As mentioned above, by now your little cutie is on their way to achieving some exciting milestones, like pulling up to stand and cruising. During the checkup, your pediatrician will want to assess how baby’s gross motor skills, fine motor skills and language skills are progressing, Scott says. Below she lists some questions around milestones, behavior and overall development your pediatrician will likely ask at the 12 month checkup:

  • Is baby crawling, pulling up to stand or cruising? (Walking independently may not occur for another few months.)
  • Can baby bear weight on both their legs?
  • Does baby self-feed using their hands? Are they starting to use a spoon?
  • Does baby use both hands to pick up objects?
  • Does baby have a pincer grasp to pick up food and other small objects with their thumb and forefinger?
  • Can baby babble, mimic sounds and say between one and three words?
  • Does baby respond to their name?
  • Does baby recognize familiar people and objects?
  • Does baby follow moving objects with their eyes?
  • Does baby follow simple instructions like “go get a diaper” or “find your favorite toy”?
  • Can baby wave?
  • Has baby started throwing tantrums?
  • Is baby anxious around strangers?
  • How many teeth does baby have? and whether they’ve been to a pediatric dentist
  • How often you brush baby’s teeth

Along with learning more about baby’s overall milestone progression, your pediatrician may also offer ways to help encourage their development. For example, they may recommend looking baby in the eyes while you speak to them to help their communication development, Parikh says.

Nutrition check-in at the 12 month checkup

At one year old, baby is probably still drinking breast milk or formula, but should also be experimenting with different solid foods. Your pediatrician will probably want to know the following, Scott and Parikh say:

  • Has baby started solid foods? How much do they eat? What kind of foods they are eating?
  • Does baby still drink from the bottle, or have they started to wean?
  • Can baby drink from a cup? (Parikh says cups with straws are best for mouth development)
  • Do you feed baby, do to they feed themselves?
  • Does baby plays with their food? (This helps build fine motor skills, Parikh says)
  • What are baby’s overall eating habits?

At this age, your pediatrician may also recommend introducing whole cow’s milk and transitioning from formula. If baby doesn’t like cow’s milk, yogurt and cheese are good alternatives to try, Parikh adds. Along with nutritional and dietary habits, your pediatrician will probably also ask about baby’s stool habits, including how many dirty diapers they have each day.

Sleep check-in at the 12 month checkup

Sleep is still a big part of baby’s healthy development—and if you’re having trouble getting your little one to stay asleep each night, it’s worth talking to your pediatrician at the one-year checkup. They might recommend sleep-training or another method to help baby get good sleep each night. Your pediatrician will also want to ask you about the following topics, Scott and Parikh say:

Child safety check-in at the 12 month checkup

As baby becomes more mobile, it’s important to babyproof the house. According to the AAP and Scott, the following safety topics and questions will be discussed at the 12 month well visit:

  • Is baby around any pets and animals?
  • Are there any firearms in the house?
  • Is baby around a pool or other bodies of water?
  • Has baby started swimming lessons?
  • Do you apply sunscreen or use hats when baby goes outdoors?
  • Does the house have stair and window guards?
  • Has furniture been anchored?
  • Where and how is the mattress positioned in baby’s crib?

Do Babies Get Shots At 12 Months

Caregivers should expect little ones to get vaccinations at their 12 month well visit, Scott says. These may also include booster doses for previously received vaccines, notes the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Exactly how many vaccines baby gets will depend on their previous immunization schedule. “Vaccine timing depends on the receipt of the previous vaccines, and can be administered over a range of ages,” Scott says. “Pediatric practices have different schedules, depending on which vaccines and combination of vaccines are used.” At the one-year checkup, babies can expect anywhere from two to four—or even more—vaccinations. Some typical vaccinations for the 12 month checkup include:

  • MMR (measles, mumps, rubella)
  • Hepatitis A
  • Varicella (chickenpox) (though some may give this at 15 months)
  • PCV 13 (pneumococcal disease)
  • Influenza (if it’s flu season)
  • Any recommended COVID-19 vaccines

Questions to Ask at the 12 Month Checkup

In short: Don’t hesitate to raise any and all questions you have about your child. “Any concerns that a parent has, whether behavioral or developmental, should be addressed at this visit,” Scott says. “We encourage parents to ask questions and not worry silently.” She and the AAP recommend asking questions about the following:

  • How to handle tantrums
  • Best disciplinary methods to use (time-out vs. time-in)
  • Baby’s eating habits
  • Building healthy sleep habits and sleep hygiene
  • Baby sleep safety and how long to keep pillows and other soft objects out of baby’s crib
  • Why it’s not safe to use a baby walker
  • Car seat safety

In addition to any questions about baby’s safety, growth, development, feeding and learning, Scott says to look out for—and bring up—any potential red flags. At this age, these include:

  • Not responding to their name when called
  • Inability to interact with others
  • Not crawling or unable to bear weight on their legs
  • Constantly repeating certain sounds
  • Any other repetitive behaviors
  • Any extremely picky eating behaviors
  • Eating non-food items
  • Reactions to food
  • An eye that turns in or out
  • Sleep disturbances

How to Prepare for the 12 Month Checkup

Now that you have a good idea of what to expect at the one-year checkup, you might be wondering how to best prepare—especially since baby will have vaccinations and a blood test during the appointment. “Parents should be prepared for poking,” Scott says. “Because of both the shots and finger sticks, parents should bring something to comfort their child, such as a favorite toy, stuffed animal or a special treat.” She even suggests playing a short video on your phone to distract baby during these parts of the checkup. In addition to comfort items, remember to bring toys, books, snacks, water and milk to the appointment, as wait times at the pediatrician’s office can be on the longer side. You might even use a pretend doctor’s play kit to help baby become familiar with the ins and outs of the doctor’s office, which may be helpful for this and future checkups. “After 9 months, checkups occur every 3 months until 18 months, then jump to the two-year visit and annually thereafter,” Scott explains. Following the 12 month well visit, baby’s next checkup will be at 15 months.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

Sources

Preeti Parikh, MD, is a pediatrician with Westside Pediatrics, located in New York City, as well as a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics. She earned her medical degree from Rutgers University and completed her pediatric residency at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Denise Scott, MD, is a pediatrician with JustAnswer and a pediatric endocrinologist based in Oklahoma with over 30 years of experience. Certified in culinary medicine, Scott also runs the blog Feed Future Health and is the author of Feed Your Child’s Future Health: Prevent Disease Before It Starts. She received her medical degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch and completed her residency at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center with a fellowship at the National Institutes of Health.

Healthy Children (American Academy of Pediatrics), Checkup Checklist: First Birthday (12 Months Old), September 2021

Learn how we ensure the accuracy of our content through our editorial and medical review process.

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