One of the most important ways you can ensure the physical and emotional health of your child is by staying on top of well-child visits. During each exam, your pediatrician will assess your child’s growth and development compared to the previous visit and review all aspects of physical, cognitive and social health. This is a time when you can bring up any concerns and discuss preventive measures to protect your child’s health into the future.
How to prepare
By thoroughly preparing for your child’s wellness exam ahead of time, you’ll make it easier for your pediatrician to provide the highest level of care. Here are a few steps you can take:
Schedule the visit in advance. Make sure you leave plenty of time before your visit to complete any essential school or sports forms you want to take with you.
Write down your questions or concerns. Take notes about any changes in your child’s health or behavior and write down a list of questions you want to discuss with your pediatrician. Topics might include anything from sleep or dietary issues to physical activity level.
Collect medical history. If not already on file, bring your child’s immunization and medical records, list of current medications and information regarding your family medical history.
What to expect
Below are some common procedures your pediatrician may perform during your child’s wellness visit:
Head to toe exam
Hearing and vision tests
Necessary shots and/or lab tests
In addition, your pediatrician will discuss how your child is learning and growing and suggest ways to improve overall health and well-being. You’ll also have an opportunity to bring up anything else you’d like to discuss, like family history of a particular illness, changes in behavior or even your child’s successes and milestones.
During the teen years
Well-child visits for teenagers set the stage for independence. During these visits, your teen will have one-on-one time with the pediatrician. This offers an excellent opportunity to address any health issues, including important subjects like sexual behavior, substance use or mental health concerns. And by following up with healthy habits at home, your teen learns to take responsibility for making the right choices.
After the visit
While the visit is still fresh in your head, write down your to-dos. Perhaps it's scheduling an appointment with a specialist, talking to your child’s teacher about a learning issue, keeping healthier snacks around the house or planning active family outings. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call the office for clarification. And as your child makes progress, make sure to update the team.
By keeping an open line of communication with your pediatrician, you’ll make the most of your next well-child visit. It’s this team-based approach between child, parent and provider that will most effectively serve the needs of your child.