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Why Well-Child Visits Matter

Published on Jun. 22, 2021

It’s important to take your kids to the pediatrician when they’re sick. Or when they need a physical exam for sports. But routine well-child visits are also a critical part of health and wellness for children up through age 18.

Think of these appointments as checkups for tracking growth and learning. Your child’s pediatrician or care provider will look at how your child is developing not only physically, but emotionally and socially as well.

“Routine visits are important for checking growth and development, which can include head circumference for infants and body mass index for children two years and older,” said Jennifer Reinink, MD, of Munson Healthcare Manistee Pediatrics. “We review development appropriate for a child’s age, which could include behavior issues for school-aged children and sleep issues, dental recommendations, and nutritional requirements for all ages. Lead levels and hemoglobin checks are also reviewed at one year and preschool ages.”

The ultimate goal of well-child visits is to make sure everything is going as planned. If you’re a new or expecting parent, or your well-child visit schedule has gotten off track, here’s what you need to know.


What to Expect at a Well-child Visit

Well-child, well-baby, or well-care appointments are scheduled visits to your child's healthcare provider for the following:

  • A physical exam
  • Measurements to track how much your child has grown since the last visit
  • Vaccines or immunizations to protect your child from serious illnesses
  • Screenings for hearing loss, and vision problems, and other potential health problems

You and your child’s pediatrician might also discuss things like feeding and bedtime schedules, safety both at home and in the car, and ways to support speech and learning.

As your child grows older, well-child visits are spaced further apart. But they’re still important. One helpful element of each visit is known as “anticipatory guidance.” This involves you, your child, and your child’s pediatrician talking about issues that may arise. Examples may include wearing helmets and other safety equipment, time limits for electronic devices, and not smoking.

Discussion topics are geared to your child’s age. Feel free to ask questions and talk about your concerns. This helps the pediatrician give the best advice for your family’s needs.


How often should you schedule well-child visits?

Your child's healthcare provider will give you a schedule of ages when a well-care visit is suggested. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises the following:

  • Before a newborn is discharged from the hospital, or at 48 to 72 hours of age
  • 3 to 5 days
  • 2 to 4 weeks
  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • 6 months
  • 9 months
  • 12 months
  • 15 months
  • 18 months
  • 24 months
  • 30 months
  • 3 years
  • 4 years
  • 5 years
  • Each year, between ages 6 and 21

How You Can Help During a Well-child Visit

Parents play a key role during well-child visits. You’ll have the opportunity to share information about how your child is doing at home. Go ahead and brag about the big milestones! Be open to discussing any challenges that have come up.

“It’s important for younger children to experience a doctor’s visit and know what to expect every year,” Reinink added. “It’s great to also establish a relationship with teens and build a rapport for further discussions around puberty, peer pressures, mental health issues, and communicating with their parents and/or guardians.”

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

Scheduling Your Next Well-child Visit

Contact your pediatrician to schedule your child's next well-care visit. If you don’t have a pediatrician, reach out to Munson Healthcare Find-a-Doctor at 231-935-5886 or FindADoctor@mhc.net. Our team will help you find a qualified pediatrician near you.

Find A Doctor

We can also help if you think your child is sick. If you have concerns, call Munson Healthcare Ask-a-Nurse at 231-935-0951 to discuss symptoms. Our nurses are answering health questions daily from 7 am to 11 pm at no charge to you.

Ask-a-Nurse   231-935-0951