What to Expect at Your Well Child Check

Well child visits are regularly scheduled checkups during which your doctor monitors your child’s general health and development and gives any necessary immunizations. First-time parents and parents with high-risk pregnancies should visit a health care provider before their baby is born. Afterward, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends well child visits when the baby is 3 to 5 days old, then at 1 month, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months, 1 year, 15 months, 18 months, and once a year from 2 years old through their teen years. As children grow, they change rapidly, and these visits provide preventive care that keeps them healthy.

well child checks

Development

During the months of babyhood, your doctor takes particular care to assess physical development by measuring length, weight, and head circumference as well as the soft spots on your baby’s head, the ears, the eyes, the inside of the mouth, the skin, heart, lungs, abdomen, hips, legs, and genitalia. As your child grows, your doctor will continue to measure height and weight and enter the data on a growth chart. Checking this against their BMI, or body mass index curve, helps identify and prevent obesity. Poor nutrition and eating disorders are common in teen years, and your doctor can supply you with information to help your child eat healthily. Developmental analysis also includes detection of any potential learning disabilities. Your doctor checks for physical, cognitive, language, behavioral, and social developmental milestones to ensure that your child’s growth in these areas is appropriate for their age group.

Immunizations

Vaccinations begin when your child is a baby and continue on a regular schedule throughout your child’s teen years. These immunizations can be administered or scheduled by your health care provider during well child visits. These vaccines protect your child against certain diseases. Some are given as one shot, and others are administered in a series of doses at timed intervals. Some vaccinations are required before your child is allowed to attend daycare or school.

Behavior During Well Child Checks

With babies, crying is a normal response to a strange environment, unfamiliar people, and possible restraints during testing procedures. Your presence is very important for the child’s reassurance. With toddlers, take a few minutes before testing procedures to try to explain briefly what will happen and how it will feel. Explain the benefits of the procedure. Let your child know that it is fine to cry if it hurts. Try to distract your child, if possible, with books, songs, or toys. You can relieve a young child’s stress by explaining medical tests in more detail. Alleviate fear of the unknown by demonstrating or acting out what will happen. Let your child know that the procedure is beneficial and not a punishment. Be sure to not appear anxious and to exude calmness. A school-age child will want to know more about what is happening: answer their questions honestly and directly.

At well child checks, be sure to take the opportunity to ask your child’s doctor any questions you have about any aspect of your child’s growth. If you are a new parent, your doctor can give you tips on nutrition, breastfeeding, sleep patterns, safety issues, and child-proofing your home. As your child grows, ask about more complex topics such as eating disorders, using technology wisely, cyberbullying, and bullying at school. Your physician is aware of the pressures of modern school and society and can offer advice.

This article was written by Ashlyn Cooper, mommy blogger.  She thinks every mother should know what to expect when taking their new baby to the doctor or visiting a vaccine clinic in Houston with their young children.

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