Well-child visits help ensure your children get the care they need
GEHA | January 8, 2021
Taking your children to the doctor when they are sick is an obvious decision, but going to the doctor when your children are well is also very important.
Well-child visits are crucial from infancy until age 18. They make sure your child is getting the appropriate care to stay healthy and provide an opportunity for the doctor to talk with the parents and child about nutrition, immunizations, safety and other age-appropriate topics.
Parents may have several questions and well-child visits are a good opportunity to discuss these questions or concerns. Growth and development occurs fairly rapidly during the first three years of life. During the well-child checkups in the first three years, doctors monitor growth and development, eating habits, the transition from milk or formula to solid foods, sleep patterns, behavior concerns and vaccinations.
As your child grows, well-child visits are a way for the doctor to monitor growth and see if development is occurring at a normal rate. The doctor will make sure your child has hit the milestones for preschool and kindergarten, which helps ensure a smooth transition and positive experience. The doctor may also talk about bike safety, car and water safety and stranger danger. This is a good opportunity to again talk about any behavioral issues and make sure vaccinations are current.
In well-child visits, as with all primary medical encounters, the doctor is there to provide medical insight and serve as your partner. Here are some tips for finding the right primary care physician.
For tweens and teens, well-child visits are a way to monitor adolescent growth patterns and development. Doctors may screen a preteen or teenager for cholesterol and high blood pressure and talk about any hearing or vision concerns. For parents, this is a venue to bring up concerns about grades or school work and address any behavioral or academic issues.
If your child plays sports, he or she may be asked to take a physical exam before the start of the season. Well-child visits are different from physicals. Well-child visits are more comprehensive and encompass immunization records, family history and past visits. In some school districts, a well-child exam may count as a sports physical.
If you have forgotten what vaccines your child received, your doctor can guide you through the process and get you back on schedule. A chart of the recommended vaccination timeline is shown below (or may be downloaded as a PDF).
“Well child visits.” medlineplus.gov, National Institutes of Health, 6 March, 2019.
“Why well child visits matter.” chop.edu, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, 28 May, 2020.
“Well child visits important for children of all ages.” sanfordhealth.org, Sanford Health, 1 August, 2019.