Make Time for Well-Child Visits

As a busy mom, you’re juggling it all―dashing from work to soccer practice to dance class, fitting in birthday parties, teacher conferences, and family dinners around the kitchen table. While it may feel tough to fit it all in, here’s something you don’t want to skip: well-child visits. Recommended for infants, children, and teens, these medical appointments are the time for vaccinations, important health screenings, a check of your child’s development, and for you to ask questions and voice concerns.

By some estimates, 19 to 57 percent of kids miss out on some of these crucial visits. That can be risky: Kids who skip well-child visits are more likely to fall behind on the vaccines they need to stay healthy. As a result, they may face higher odds for pneumonia and other infections that need hospital treatment. 

Heed the tips below to make scheduling and keeping well-child visits easier, and to help you make the most of them.

Know when to go. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends well-child visits for babies and young toddlers at 3 to 5 days old, then at ages 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 24, and 30 months. Starting at age 3, kids and teens need one preventive-care visit every year through age 21.

Make scheduling (and remembering) a cinch. Take advantage of appointment reminders―by phone, text, or email―offered by the pediatrician’s office. Schedule well-child appointments at the same time each year, such as before the start of school, to help you remember. And always say “yes” if office staff offer to schedule your child’s next well visit while you’re already there. This convenience boosts the chances you and your child will keep this important appointment.

Understand the big wellness benefits. Unlike sick visits, where the focus is on diagnosing and treating illness, every well-child visit covers a wide range of health needs, depending on your child’s age. These include:

  • Vaccines

  • A physical exam

  • Checks of vision, hearing, cholesterol, and blood pressure at recommended ages, plus autism screening

  • An assessment of your child’s emotional health

  • For teens, time for confidential conversations that may include assessments for alcohol and drug use and high-risk behavior

Keep up with your rapidly growing child. Kids’ minds and bodies grow quickly. Well visits help you keep pace with what they need now. Most of these appointments last 11 to 20 minutes or even longer. That gives you time to talk about topics like:

  • Healthy eating

  • Sleeping

  • Physical activity

  • How your child’s doing in school, at home, and in activities

Strengthen your partnership with the doctor. Chat away! Conversations with your child’s pediatrician or family doctor at wellness visits are a great way to build a relationship that can enhance your child’s health. By speaking freely, you’re adding more information to your child’s health history and helping the doctor better understand his or her wellness needs.

Get set for success. Make the most out of every visit. Before your appointment, jot down three to five questions about your child’s well-being that you’d like to discuss.

 

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