As a busy mom, you’re juggling it all―running from work to soccer practice or dance class, fitting in birthday parties, teacher conferences, and family dinners. 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 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) easy. Schedule well-child appointments at the same time each year, such as before the start of school or after your child’s birthday, to help you remember. And always say “yes” if office staff offers 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. You can also sign up for MyChart so you can receive email appointment reminders.
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:
- 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 and can cover topics including:
- 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.
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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About Dr. Oliver
Dr. Paige Oliver is a pediatrician at Metairie Pediatrics, a location of Children’s Pediatrics. She earned her medical degree from Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans and completed residency with LSU Health Sciences Center at Children’s Hospital. Dr. Oliver is board certified by the American Board of Pediatrics.
“I chose to practice pediatrics because I enjoy working with children and getting to know them and their families through the years.”