The Well Child Visit
As I sit and write this article I think about my day. I had the pleasure and privilege of seeing 3 different children/familes for their Well Visits. What a joy to see the happy faces of children that I have watched grow and develop into fun little people. Because these children know me they quickly and willingly interacted. Sharing what they have done this summer. One child liked picking blueberries best. Another child got to cook with Grandma. Of course the visit was not all fun and games which is what this article is about. What is a Well Visit? Why should we bring our kids in for these visits regularly? What should you expect from a Well Visit? How do you prepare your child for a Well visit?
You made it this far, pregnancy, labor, late nights, sniffles, bruises. Many tears from both your children and you! Of course you want a well child. It seems counter intuitive to take your well child to a doctor. Here’s why we recommend regular Well Child Visits.
~ Stephanie Bennett, ARNP, FNP
Well Child Visits Are About Proactive Health & Well Being
There are several reasons why well-child visits are an important part of your child’s overall health and well being. In most cases, the visit will be straightforward, consisting of:
- Check-ins with you and your child.
- A general physical to make sure all seems well with her physical and mental development.
- Vaccinations, administered to prevent potential childhood illnesses, many of which can have very serious side effects.
- An opportunity for you to ask the doctor questions or share concerns you may have about your child, his or her behavior, advice on parenting, or any other topics of interest.
- A chance for your doctor to fill you in on normal developmental stages, safety concerns, nutrition, and any health issues that might be unique to your child or your geographical location.
- 2 to 5 days old
- 1 month old
- 2 months old
- 4 months old
- 6 months old
- 9 months old
- 12 months old
- 15 months old
- 18 months old
- 2 years old (24 months)
- 3 years old
- Annually from 4-21 years old
During the infant and toddler years you’ll notice that well child visits take place much more often. This is because younger children can’t typically speak to us about what is happening in their bodies, or express what they’re experiencing through words. Also, their small bodies suffer more quickly when something is wrong. By bringing them in more often, we are able to keep abreast of any changes worth noting, or any developmental difficulties that trigger a red flag for you or the doctor.
Another reason for more frequent, early well-child visits is that the large majority of the vaccinations and boosters your child receive occur during the first four or five years old – the age when most children enter kindergarten. That schedule slows down for a while until they hit adolescence, when we begin talking about topics, like the HPV vaccine [ct1] or boosters that keep previous vaccinations up-to-date.
Establish a Relationship with Your Primary Physician and Staff
Getting to know your doctor and them knowing you is the best part of well visits. The Well visit is a time for exchanging ideas and stories. These relationships are very important to build trust and familiarity, which can be critical if something is wrong with your child. A Provider whom knows your family well will pick up on subtleties much sooner than an unknown individual. Children and parents feel safer when requiring a specific treatment course that may seem scary when they are with someone familiar and surroundings are known.
What to Do Before Your Next Well Child Visit
There are a few things you can do to help your next well child visit go more smoothly:
- Show up 15-minutes early. Showing up early gives you time to find parking, sign in and fill out any required paperwork. Bring your child’s favorite book, small toys and/or a comfort item to help him/her remain occupied in the waiting room. Comfort items are also helpful during vaccination time. If you have a nursing child, you are welcome to nurse the baby while we are administering the vaccinations.
- Have your photo ID and health insurance card ready. If this is your first visit, you will probably have to show a form of ID and office staff will want to scan your health insurance card. The office or clinic may require that each and every time, or they may simply keep it on file after the first visit.
- Have your child’s vaccination card ready. Your child’s vaccination card is a record that shows he or she is current on the recommended vaccinations, as well as the date(s) they were administered. Vaccination cards are required by day cares, preschools and kindergartens prior to enrollment. Keep it handy and up to date by bringing it with you to each visit.
- Have a list of questions ready. Keep a running list of questions or concerns you may have during the weeks before your next visit. This will ensure you get the information you need while you’re in the office.
- Prepare your child. Always discuss upcoming well child visits with your child so she is prepared. Let them know that the doctor will remove their shirts and pants and that the diaper will have to be removed for quick checks of the lymph nodes in the groin. The more prepared your child is, the more comfortable he will be.
Each of the Doctors and Nurse Practitioners at Family Wellness Center are parents. We understand how it feels to be in your shoes. We know life is busy and that everyday activities can make it difficult to schedule well child visits. Even so, observing the well-child visit schedule is one of the best things you can do to prevent childhood illnesses and catch any health or developmental issues so they can be treated sooner, rather than later.
I and the team here at Family Wellness Center look forward to meeting you and your children. There’s nothing we like more than sending healthy children back out into the world happy and healthy.
~ Stephanie Bennett, ARNP, FNP
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