Well-child visits are an essential part of maintaining your child's good health. These visits to the pediatrician include vision and hearing screenings, evaluation of your child's physical growth and developmental milestones, assessment of the child's social skills and academic concerns, blood and urine check, and vaccines (when and if needed).
Well visits were designed so that the pediatrician can follow your child’s progress, says Dyan Hes, M.D., medical director at Gramercy Pediatrics and board member, American Board of Obesity Medicine. "Pediatricians want to see that your child is meeting developmental milestones. They can be as subtle as laughing at 2 months of age or scribbling with a crayon at 18 months of age." Most well visits are associated with vaccines, so it is important not to miss these visits, says Hes. "Exposing your child to a vaccine-preventable disease could be dangerous." Recently, there has been much more awareness about screening for developmental delay and autism.
Dorothy Wiggins, M.D., F.A.A.P., mother of two and pediatrician at Atlantic Pediatric Partners, says it's important for children under the age of 6 to obtain well-child checkups because it is during these formative years that healthy habits are developed. "Additionally, with so much technology available to children of all ages," says Wiggins, "these visits serve as a great time to discuss appropriate amounts of screen time and to ensure that children are engaging in daily physical activity."
Well visits are a key part of ensuring your child's well-being and should begin right away. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends scheduling well visits for children at the following ages: Newborn, first week, 1 month, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months, 12 months, 15 months, 18 months and annually from age 2 through 21.
"Try to find a practice that uses electronic medical records and gives you a printout summary when you leave," says Dr. Dyan Hes. "This printout should have parenting tips based on your child’s age. This is very helpful."
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