What to Expect During This Visit
Your doctor and/or nurse will probably:
1. Check your child's weight, length, and head circumference and plot the measurements on the growth charts.
2. Ask questions, address concerns, and provide guidance about how your toddler is:
Eating. By 15 months, most toddlers are eating a greater variety of foods and are better able to handle textures. Offer your toddler three meals and two or three scheduled nutritious snacks a day. Growth slows down in the second year of life so don't be surprised if your child's appetite has decreased. Your child can drink from a cup and may be able to use a spoon but probably prefers to finger-feed.
Pooping. As you introduce new foods and whole milk, the appearance and frequency of your child's poopy diapers may change from day to day. Let your doctor know if your child has diarrhea, is constipated, or has poop that's hard to pass.
Sleeping. There's a wide range of normal, but generally toddlers need about 12 to 14 hours of sleep a day, including one or two daytime naps.
Developing. By 15 months, it's common for many toddlers to:
- say three to five words
- understand and follow simple commands
- point to one body part
- walk alone
- make marks with a crayon
- imitate activities, such as housework
- take off an article of clothing (usually shoes or socks)
3. Perform a physical exam with your child undressed while you are present. This will include an eye exam, tooth exam, listening to the heart and lungs, and paying attention to your toddler's motor skills and behavior.
4. Update immunizations. Immunizations can protect kids from serious childhood illnesses, so it's important that your child receive them on time. Immunization schedules can vary from office to office, so talk to your doctor about what to expect.
Here are some things to keep in mind until your next routine visit at 18 months:
- Give your child whole milk (not low-fat or skim milk) until 2 years of age.
- Limit your child's intake of cow's milk to about 16–24 ounces (480–720 ml) a day.
- Serve iron-fortified cereal and increase iron-rich foods in your child's diet, including meat, poultry, well-cooked leafy greens, beans (white, black, and kidney), and tofu.
- Serve a variety of foods, but let your child decide what to eat and when he or she has had enough.
- Transition from the bottle to a cup. If you're nursing, avoid the bottle habit — only offer milk in a cup.
- Serve juice in a cup and limit it to no more than 4 ounces (120 ml) a day.
- Avoid drinks or foods that are high in sugar.
- Avoid foods that may cause choking, such as hot dogs, grapes, raw carrots, or hard candy.
- Infants learn best by interacting with people. Make time to talk, read, and play with your child every day.
- TV viewing (or other screen time, including computers) can interfere with the brain development of young children. Therefore, TV is not recommended for those under 2 years old.
- Have a safe play area and allow plenty of time for exploring.
Routine Care & Safety
- Brush your child's teeth without toothpaste twice a day. Schedule a dental visit if you have not done so already.
- Tantrums are common at this age, and tend to be worse when children are tired or hungry. Try to head off tantrums before they happen — distract your child or remove him or her from frustrating situations.
- Don't spank your child. Children don't make the connection between spanking and the behavior you are trying to correct. If necessary, use a brief time-out to discipline your toddler.
- Continue to keep your baby in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat until age 2, or whenever your child reaches the weight or height limit set by the car-seat manufacturer.
- Apply sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher on your child's skin at least 15 minutes before going outside to play and reapply about every two hours.
- Limit your child's exposure to secondhand smoke, which increases the risk of heart and lung disease.
- Make sure your home is safe for your curious toddler:
- Keep out of reach: choking hazards; cords; hot, sharp, and breakable items; and toxic substances (lock away medicine and household chemicals).
- Keep the local poison control number near the phone.
- Use safety gates and watch your toddler closely when on stairs.
- To prevent drowning, close bathroom doors, keep toilet seats down, and always supervise your child around water (including baths).
- Be sure the crib mattress is in the lowest position.
- Protect your child from gun injuries by not keeping a gun in the home. If you do have a gun, keep it unloaded and locked away. Ammunition should be locked up separately. Make sure kids cannot access the keys.
These checkup sheets are consistent with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)/Bright Futures guidelines.