What are well-child visits, and why should you have them?
Well-child visits help your pediatrician keep track of your child’s health.
It’s that time of year! Kids are back in school, which means flu and cold season are just around the bend. If you haven’t already, it’s a good time to get your kid in for a well-child visit with your family doctor, and make sure you’re up-to-date on immunizations, too.
What’s a well-child visit?
Well-child visits are what used to be called physicals or routine checkups. For younger kids, well-child visits are recommended more often, because they are growing at such a high rate.
These visits may include:
- A complete physical exam.
- Recording height, weight, and other important growth indicators.
- For some visits, hearing, vision and other screening tests.
- Suggestions on ways to stay healthy and prevent future health problems.
- Any immunizations your physician may suggest.
If you have any specific concerns about your child’s growth rate, nutrition, sleep, or anything else, be sure to bring them with you to the well-child visit.
But my child isn’t sick. Why should I take them to the doctor?
Most pediatricians consider a well-child visit to be very valuable as a preventative visit. Catching potential health risks before they become a problem can result in a better health outcome.
How often should I bring my child to the doctor’s office?
For regular well-child visits, the frequency depends on your child’s age and risk factors. Infants receive well-baby checkups every couple of months, with the recommended vaccine schedule spread out among the visits. Age your child grows, he or she will likely only need a well-child visit yearly, unless your pediatrician recommends more frequent visits to monitor growth, or to keep an eye on a different health risk factor.
What about well-child visits for pre-teens and teens?
While your pre-teen or teenager is going through lots of growth and hormonal changes, they are also learning to navigate society in ways they’ve never encountered before. Your family doctor will probably add mental health screening to your pre-teen and teenager’s well-child visits. This can mean something as simple as asking how he or she is doing in school, and what kinds of things they do to relax, how they get along with their friends, etc.
Setting a lifetime of good habits.
Building trust between your child and his or her doctor will set them up to be more health-aware as an adult. Remember that old saying about kids remembering what you do more than what you say? It’s true! Helping your child feel like they have a team on their side, concerned with helping them stay healthy, will boost them in school, sports and beyond.
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