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Why Well-Child Visits Matter More Than You Might Think

by Olufunke Oladejo, MD

Taking your baby to see a doctor is important when your little one is sick. But going to regular well-child visits is just as important.

These visits occur every few weeks or months for the first year and a half and then are gradually spaced out. “By age four, your child only needs a well visit once a year,” says Olufunke Oladejo, MD, UPMC pediatrician.

The pediatrician will examine how your child is developing in these key areas:

  • Physical: Childhood is a period of very rapid growth and development. Because there are so many changes going on in your child’s body, they need to be carefully monitored for any irregular changes.
  • Emotional: Emotional health has a great impact on an infant’s growth, a toddler’s development, and a teenager’s ability to socialize normally.
  • Social: Pediatricians discuss family and social situations and help connect families to services available in the community.

What to Expect

Well-child visits include:

  •  Measurements to see how much your child has grown since the last visit.
  •  Physical exam to check your child’s health from head to toe.
  •  Screenings for hearing and vision problems, lead exposure, developmental milestones, and more.
  •  Vaccines to protect your child from several serious illnesses.

Anticipatory guidance tailored to your child’s age is also discussed:

  •  Healthy food choices.
  •  Keeping your child safe at home and in the car.
  •  Supporting your child’s speech and learning.
  •  Creating bedtime routines.

How You Can Help

You, as a child’s caregiver, play a key role at well-child visits, by sharing information about what your child is doing at home. Go head—brag about the big milestones! Be open about any challenges that come up.

“A caregiver’s participation in these visits are especially important. Unlike sick visits, this visit is a meeting to discuss important things about your child’s health and you should come prepared,” notes Dr. Oladejo

You may want to write down your top three to five questions before the visit. That way, you won’t forget to ask them. Your child’s pediatrician is a great resource for helpful advice.

We do a thorough review of your child’s past medical history before coming in to see him/her so it’s important that you are punctual to the visit. We also go to great lengths to explain your child’s condition (if any are present), as well as our decisions regarding care and/or treatment in ways you can understand. We will provide printed information and resourceful websites if you want to find out more.

Older Kids and Teens

As your child grows, well-child visits continue to be an important part of their health and wellness. Anticipatory guidance tailored to your child’s age are discussed, including bike helmets, time limits for electronic devices, update of immunizations, healthy habits, and preparing for teen health issues.

Your pediatrician can also be a valuable help with academic difficulties and behavioral issues at school. “Some treatable health conditions like eczema, constipation, sleep apnea might greatly affect a child’s school performance. Your doctor might be able to figure out the cause and link you up with available resources,” says Dr. Oladejo

Learn more about UPMC Pediatric Services.