When babies are brand new, parents often look forward to that first well-child visit so they can ask questions and get advice. They might not realize these visits are specifically designed to help prevent illnesses, track growth and development and address concerns at every stage of a child’s journey to adulthood.
Keeping up with yearly well-child visits also helps build a trusted relationship with your pediatrician so they can be the best possible partner in the physical, mental and social health of your child. Consider these five important aspects of well-child visits:
1.) Check ups are for more than vaccines.
As their children grow older, some parents skip Well-Child visits because they think these visits are primarily for immunizations. We do give scheduled vaccines during these visits. But we also talk about important aspects of your child’s growth – from feeding issues to developmental stages. Well-Child Visits are an opportunity to ask questions and get answers. Unless your child came with an instruction book, you’re going to have questions and occasionally need some information from a trusted source.
2.) Well-Checks provide a thorough exam.
The history portion of the visit usually takes longer than the physical exam. This is because I go through each system – eyes, ears, etc. – because parents will be more likely to ask questions if you bring up the specific topics. Most of the time, there will be at least one question the parent wouldn’t have asked if I hadn’t brought it up.
3.) They can help catch things early.
These visits are an opportunity to screen for health risks – things like heart disease and diabetes. Why so early? If we see a risk at age two we can be a little more proactive with preventative care. It’s easier to change diet and exercise in a young child than in an older person. Keep in mind, things change at home each year. Perhaps a grandfather recently died of a heart attack at age 44. Knowing that helps guide our preventive care.
4.) Well-Checks are tailored to every age.
If your child is at an age where he or she is learning to ride a bike, I will ask about wearing a helmet. As kids get older, I’ll ask about school, bullying and friends. Why? No. 1 – It helps me get to know your child. No. 2 – Do you know how many times a child has said yes to a question about bullying and the parent was unaware? By asking the question and getting the topic out into the open, you as a parent can then talk about and address what’s going on.
5.) It can help parents through teenage years.
Children are always going through developmental stages. As they become teeneagers, they tend to think nothing bad ever happens to them. Meanwhile they are figuring out who they are by experimenting. At these Well-Child Visits, it helps to have a conversation about the risks teenagers may be taking. Asking these questions gets these topics out in the open where they can be addressed with the support of a pediatrician.
Well-Child Visit Schedule
Here is the typical schedule of when well-checks happen for children.
- Their first year and a half they will be seen at 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, 12, 15 and 18 months.
- Then at 2 and 2 ½ years.
- Yearly from age 3 to 21.
Reach out to your child's provider if you have any additional questions.