Well-child visits are a good chance to give your little one a thorough physical exam and address any concern you might have regarding any health issues. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there are four major benefits of well-child visits:
- Prevention. Your child gets scheduled immunizations to prevent illness. You also can ask your pediatrician about nutrition and safety at home and at school.
- Tracking growth and development. See how much your child has grown since your last visit, and talk with your doctor about your child’s development milestones.
- Raising concerns. Make a list of topics you want to talk about with your child’s doctor.
- Establishing a positive relationship. Regular visits create a strong trustworthy relationship between the pediatrician, parent and child before the child is sick or injured.
Back to school season is always an ideal time to have your child’s annual exam in order to set them up for a successful academic year.
The nature of the exam will change somewhat depending on your child’s age, however the pediatrician will look mostly for your child’s weight, height and development milestones in addition to a full body exam. Children involved in school sports programs often needs a sports-specific exam.
Eye exams have become more important than ever due to increased screen use. The use of smartphones and tablets has an impact on users’ blink rate and tear production.
Vision screening is important to prevent the development of a vision difficulty that may affect the child’s health and potential for learning. It is also important to identify children with certain vision liabilities and establish follow-up plans for them.
According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), infants should have their first comprehensive eye exam at six months of age. Children then should have additional eye exams at age three, and just before they enter the first grade — at about age five or six and every two years thereafter.
Children considered at risk of developing eye and vision problems may need additional testing or more frequent re-evaluations.
Screening recommendations vary, however according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, hearing screening should be conducted:
- At school entry for all children
- At least once during middle school
- At least once during high school
Screening may be required more often for children with other known health or learning needs; speech, language, or developmental delays; or a family history of early hearing loss.
Checkups include an examination of your child’s mouth and teeth to check risk of getting cavities. If needed, your child will be referred to a pediatric dentist for treatment.
Various factors might determine how frequently your child needs to have a dental exam, including age, health and risk of tooth decay. Generally, it’s advised to have your child’s teeth checked every six months. However, the dentist might recommend fewer or more-frequent visits depending on your child’s risk factors for oral health problems.
Discuss healthy eating choices, whether your child brings food from home or buys it at school.
Depending on your child’s age, certain immunizations are needed. Your pediatrician will be able to advise whether your child is up to date or needs a certain vaccine dose or booster.
In addition to routine vaccines, the seasonal flu shot is recommended annually for all children older than six months as soon as the vaccine becomes available, which is usually early October.