Parents of young children can sometimes feel like they spend most of their free time in the pediatrician’s office with a sick child. While it may be tempting to skip scheduling another trip to the doctor when your child is well, it’s important to bring the kids in for their well-child visits. Here’s why:
1. Track Growth
Babies need as many as ten well-child visits with their primary care provider before they are two. Starting at age two, children need to have a well-child visit at least once per year until they turn 21. These visits are critical in keeping kids of all ages healthy. They also ensure your child is growing as expected.
At each well-child visit, your pediatrician will record your child’s height and weight. For infants, these measurements will also include the circumference of the baby’s head. Comparing these measurements to those of your last visit, as well as to the growth charts for children at the same age, allows your doctor to track your child’s growth. When it comes to the growth chart, the important thing isn’t necessarily the percentile itself, but rather the rate of growth.
2. Monitor Development
Talking about developmental milestones will likely be the most common topic discussed at your child’s well-child visit, especially in the early years. This can include physical traits, social behaviors, and emotional health. Regular visits, even when your child is not sick, will establish trends that can help your pediatrician spot and address irregularities or concerns in a timely manner.
3. Child Health Education
Your pediatrician can help educate your child on the importance of a healthy lifestyle to prevent future medical conditions caused by poor health habits and equip you as a parent with educational resources and tools that are needed to support them in these areas at home. This can include discussions about
- Diet: Proper nutrition is key for growing children. Your doctor will ask about any food allergies, aversions, and how to ensure picky eaters get the nutrients they need.
- Exercise: Kids need an hour of physical activity each day. Your pediatrician will offer suggestions on how to get less active kids moving more.
- Injury prevention: If your child is already active, your doctor can help mitigate injury risk. Many schools also require a sports physical before the season starts—be sure to ask if your well-visit counts for that, or if you need a separate appointment.
- Sleep habits: Children 6 to 12 years of age should sleep 9 to 12 hours per 24 hours on a regular basis to promote optimal health. Teenagers 13 to 18 years need slightly less sleep—8 to 10 hours per 24 hours. If your child isn’t getting enough sleep or is sleeping too much your doctor can help identify the cause.
4. Preventative Care
New studies, equipment, medication, and healthcare guidelines for children can change over time as physicians and researchers learn more. Following the recommended well-child visit schedule will ensure you stay up-to-date on all preventative treatments available to your children such as immunizations and screenings. Learn more about our recommended immunization schedule and vaccine policy here.
5. Establish a Team Approach
Regular visits create strong, trustworthy relationships among pediatrician, parent, and child. In order for him or her to be an effective partner in the care of your child, you and your child both need to build a relationship with your pediatrician. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends well-child visits as a way for pediatricians and parents to serve the needs of children. This team approach will help your child’s provider gain a better understanding of your child’s medical history and can help you navigate through various life experiences.
Make an Appointment
Our board-certified pediatricians and staff are dedicated to providing quality care to patients in Wake Forest and Knightdale. Our comprehensive approach focuses on teamwork and open communication with patients and parents. Call our Wake Forest office at 919-556-4779 or our Knightdale office at 919-266-5059 to make a well-child appointment today. At Wake Forest Pediatrics, we believe that routine well-care visits are vital to the health of your child.