Well Child Checks – Why So Many?
By the time a child turns 18, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that they have 29 check-ups, also called “well child checks”. Ten of these visits are supposed to happen before they are 3 years old. Why does a healthy child need to see the doctor so often? Some people might say that these visits are for giving shots. While it is true that there are scheduled shots at a lot of the early visits, most of these well child checks are shot-free. The reality is that there are many other great reasons to bring your child in to see their doctor that have nothing to do with vaccines.
In addition to listening to the heart and lungs, there are a lot of other things happening at a typical well child check. Height and weight are checked every time and are plotted on the growth curve to see how well your child had been growing since the last visit. A developmental screen is done at every visit in the first 5 years to pick up on any concerns so that children can quickly get access to all the help they need to achieve their potential. As children get older, hearing and vision are checked. In the teenage years, behavior patterns and mood are screened and discussed. And, of course, any questions children or parents have about growth and development are answered.
Some of my favorite parts of the visit are just getting to know your child a little bit better. For young children, that means finding out their likes (dinosaurs!), or favorite activities (dancing!). As kids get older, we talk about school, sports and friends. As they near puberty I enjoy answering their questions about their body and helping them understand how to stay healthy. In the teen years we start to talk about healthy habits that will help them as they enter adulthood.
Well child checks are important even after a child is no longer an infant. Your pediatrician wants to see them once a year. If it’s been a while since your child was seen, give us a call and we will talk about scheduling that important well child appointment.