We all know that our children should visit a doctor if they are sick, but regular well visits with a pediatrician are equally important for your child’s overall health and development. These checkups allow both the parents and the pediatrician to ensure that the child is healthy and is developing normally, and for the parents to receive follow-through advice – and possibly a referral for the child to see a specialist – if anything is concerning.
There are certain topics you should keep in mind to discuss with your pediatrician on a well visit to ensure your child gets the most out of your appointment. Let’s talk about some of those topics and about who you can talk to in order to find out more.
What Is a Well Visit?
A well-visit is beneficial at all stages of your child’s development. The American Academy of Pediatrics has developed comprehensive guidelines for “well-child” care, known as the periodicity schedule, which is a set of recommended assessments and screenings at specified points throughout childhood.
Typically, well visits are recommended for:
- Newborns – Typically within 3-5 days of birth, with a follow-up appointment 2-4 weeks after, if all is well. Pediatrician visits then usually take place at 2, 4, 6, and 9 months.
- Toddlers – If there are no concerns, visits become a little less frequent: recommended at 12, 15, 18, 24, and 30 months.
- Preschoolers – Visits generally occur at ages 3 and 4 years.
By the age of 5, well visits typically move to a yearly schedule and can continue right up to the age of 21 if necessary.
What Should Be Covered in a Well Visit?
Regular well visits serve to create strong, trusting relationships among the pediatrician, parent, and child. This team approach helps to ensure that the child’s needs are met and that their physical, mental, and social health is developing appropriately.
Each checkup will focus on a number of different areas, such as:
- Physical health
- Height and weight
- Development assessment – whether the child is reaching their expected developmental milestones (e.g., focusing, sitting up, walking, talking, and picking up objects)
- Routine screening tests
- Sharing information about the child’s nutrition, sleep, behavioral issues, and safety
A well visit is also an opportunity for the parent (and child as they get older) to voice any concerns, ask questions, and flag up any important information that may be relevant to the child’s overall health and ongoing development.
What Should Be Discussed with the Pediatrician?
Things that may be beneficial to discuss with your pediatrician include the following:
Changes at Home
It is important to tell your pediatrician if there have been any changes at home, as this may have an impact emotionally on your child even if not in an obvious way. Changes can include a family separation, divorce, death in the family, a new baby, a new relationship, significant illness, a move to a new area, or a change in schools.
This change may affect how your child thinks, feels, or behaves at home or at school. Your pediatrician will be able to offer advice and guidance to deal with the situation.
Medical or Health Changes
Although your pediatrician may be based at your regular doctor’s office and is therefore aware of any medical issues that arise, it can be beneficial to talk to the pediatrician about any medical problems, concerns, or changes during your child’s checkup.
This can include issues such as a sports injury, illness (perhaps your child went to an urgent care clinic or a hospital for treatment – the pediatrician should know about that), or an ongoing condition requiring medication. Getting all the necessary information helps your pediatrician gain an overall picture of your child’s health, enabling their care to be more tailored to your child’s needs.
If you have any concerns about social aspects of your child’s life, it is important to discuss them with your pediatrician. These may surround friendship groups and who they are socializing with, an inability to make friends, a lack of interest in activities or sports, a change in personality, or bullying – whether the child is the victim or the instigator.
If you have concerns, or if you feel that your child seems unhappy or withdrawn, it can be an indicator that they need medical support. Do not be intimidated or disappointed by this – these issues can be treated.
If you have noticed a delay in an area of their development, such as their learning or communication capabilities, it is important to discuss this with your pediatrician. They will be able to advise you of whether further evaluation may be required or make a referral to a specialist if necessary.
Obstetrics and Pediatric Care in Wayne County, Ohio
If you are seeking expert care for the birth of your child and beyond, Wooster Community Hospital is here to serve you. We offer a wide range of healthcare services for the whole family, from obstetrics and pediatrics to wellness checkups and men’s health.
If you would like to learn more about our services, contact us today by calling (330) 263-8144. We look forward to being your family’s healthcare partner.