Doctor visit: The 6-month checkup

Find out what to expect at this well-baby checkup. Download a printable version of our 6-month checkup worksheet to take with you. You may want to read through the questions and jot down answers beforehand.

You’ll need to undress your baby completely for weighing. The doctor weighs your baby, measures length and head circumference, and plots the numbers on a growth chart.

The chart enables you to see how your baby compares with other children the same age. If her percentiles have changed a little bit, don’t worry – she’s just settling into her own growth pattern.

Do a complete physical

  • Heart and lungs: Uses a stethoscope to listen for any abnormal heart rhythms or breathing problems.
  • Eyes: Checks for signs of congenital eye conditions and other problems. May also check for blocked tear ducts and discharge.
  • Ears: Looks for signs of infection and observes how your baby responds to sound.
  • Mouth: Looks for signs of thrush (an oral yeast infection) and any new teeth, among other things.
  • Head: Checks the soft spots (fontanels) and the shape of your baby’s head. Also checks to see if your baby’s head is developing a flat spot.
  • Body: Checks your baby’s reflexes and muscle tone, and examines his skin for rashes. Also assesses your baby’s muscle control when sitting upright as well as how he interacts, reaches, and grabs things.
  • Belly: Presses gently on the abdomen to check for a hernia or enlarged organs.
  • Genitals: Opens your baby’s diaper and checks for signs of infection.
  • Hips and legs: Moves your baby’s legs around to look for problems in the hip joints.

    Give your baby her shots

    Your baby will receive the hepatitis B, DTaP, polio, pneumococcal, and Hib vaccines (combined in two or three shots) and rotavirusvaccine (given orally). He’s also due for his first flu shot if it’s flu season.

    An assistant may administer the vaccines. This is usually done at the end of the appointment so you can have some privacy afterward to comfort your baby.

    Address any other concerns

    The doctor will address any other concerns (such as childproofing your home before your baby crawls) ask you some questions (see below), and help you understand what’s normal at this age.

    Questions the doctor may ask:

    • How’s your baby sleeping? At 6 months your baby will probably be sleeping about 14 to 15 hours in a 24-hour period.
    • Does your baby seem ready for solid food?Four to 6 months is the recommended age to start your baby on solids – that is, the mushy cereal that passes for baby’s first solid food. The doctor can help you decide how to begin, if you haven’t already. Be sure to tell the doctor about any food allergies that run in your family. If you’ve already started, let the doctor know if your baby gags on food or spits up a lot. He may have a treatable digestive problem called reflux.)
    • What are your baby’s bowel movements like?As your baby starts eating solids, his bowel movements will get harder and smellier. But in general, your baby’s stools should still be fairly soft. Dry or pellet-like stools are a sign of dehydration, or constipation. Tell your doctor if you notice this.
    • Can your baby roll over or sit up? At 6 months many babies can roll over both ways (front to back and back to front) and sit without support, although some need a little more time to master these skills. If your baby hasn’t learned to roll over at least one way, tell your doctor.
    • Has your baby started teething? Some babies get their first tooth as early as 6 months – or even earlier. Your baby may suffer from red, swollen, and tender gums while his teeth are erupting. Your doctor can suggest ways to soothe your baby’s gums. Once the first tooth shows up, the doctor will recommend that your child drink fluoridated water or take fluoride drops.
    • What sounds does your baby make? At this age your baby’s language skills include babbling, squealing, laughing, imitating others, and coughing. He’s probably also making identifiable sounds such as “ba,” “da,” or “ma.” If your baby doesn’t make any sounds or is “talking” less than before, tell the doctor.
    • Is your baby interested in the world around him? By now your baby should be well into exploratory play, putting objects in his mouth and banging, dropping, or throwing things. Tell the doctor if your baby doesn’t seem interested in toys or other objects.
    • How are your baby’s fine motor skills? Your baby probably reaches for and grabs things, and he may also use his hands to sweep small objects toward him and transfer things from hand to hand.
    • How are your baby’s gross motor skills? Your baby should be able to bear weight on his feet when you hold him up. Bowed legs and rounded feet – arched up instead of flat for walking – are still normal at this age, but if your baby moves in a way that worries you, favors one leg, seems to tilt sideways when he moves, or tends to use only one hand, let the doctor know.
    • Have you noticed anything unusual about your baby’s eyes or the way he looks at things? At every well-baby visit, the doctor should check the structure and alignment of the eyes and your baby’s ability to move them correctly. By 6 months, your baby should be able to control his eye movements and should no longer appear cross-eyed at times.
    • How is your baby’s hearing? If your baby doesn’t turn toward sounds, be sure to tell his doctor. The sooner potential hearing problemsare investigated, the sooner they can be treated.