Parents know they should go to their pediatrician when their child is sick, but regular well-child checkups are just as important to keep your child healthy.
Childhood is a time of rapid growth and change, whether in the early years as they progress from infant to toddler and through childhood or as they transition through adolescence and then young adulthood. Regular visits to the pediatrician not only assure your child’s complete health and wellbeing are monitored, but these visits build a solid medical history which helps the doctor be aware of the child’s progress and development. Having a long-term history with your child also alert the doctor to any emerging problems that might otherwise pass undetected.
The Benefits of Well-Child Visits
- Prevention: Your child gets scheduled immunizations to prevent illness. You also can ask your pediatrician about nutrition and safety in the home and at school.
- Tracking growth and development: See how much your child has grown in the time since your last visit, and talk with your doctor about your child’s development. You can discuss your child’s milestones, social behaviors and learning.
- Raising concerns: Make a list of topics you want to talk about with your child’s pediatrician such as development, behavior, sleep, eating or getting along with other family members. Bring your top three to five questions or concerns with you to talk with your pediatrician at the start of the visit.
- Team approach: Regular visits create strong, trustworthy relationships among pediatrician, parent and child. The AAP recommends well-child visits as a way for pediatricians and parents to serve the needs of children. This team approach helps develop optimal physical, mental and social health of a child.
Preventitive Health Care Schedule
A visit with a pediatrician before the baby is born is important for first-time parents, those with high-risk pregnancies, and any other parent who wishes to discuss common issues such as feeding, circumcision, and general questions.
After the baby is born, the next visit should be 2-3 days after bringing the baby home (for breast-fed babies) or when the baby is 2-4 days old (for all babies discharged from a hospital before 2 days old). For experienced parents, some practitioners will delay the visit until 1-2 weeks of age.
Thereafter, visits should occur at the following points:
- By 1 month (although experienced parents can wait until the next time, 2 months)
- 2 months
- 4 months
- 6 months
- 9 months
- 1 year
- 15 months
- 18 months
- 2 years
- 3 years
- 4 years
- 5 years
- 6 years
- 8 years
- 10 years
- Each year after that until age 21
Of course, visits and phone calls to a health care provider should be made any time a baby or child seems ill or whenever the parent is concerned about a baby’s health or development.
It’s important to remember that regular check-ups cover much more than just the physical examination and immunizations. These visits are also a time to address any emotional, developmental, or social concerns that your child may be experiencing. During adolescence and the teenage years, it’s also a good chance to address important questions or concerns about drinking, smoking, drugs, sexual activity, and depression.
Adapted from American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2018)
The information contained on this website should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.