What parents should know about checkups (well checks) and kids
The first few years of your child’s life are a major factor in their lifelong growth and development, which is why CHOC recommends attending all well checkups for your child, even if they’re healthy.
These checkups, also known as well child checks, are an opportunity to track your child’s development, make sure they’re getting the care they need to stay healthy, and for parents to get answers to any parenting questions.
Six reasons why your healthy child shouldn’t skip their well check
#1 Developmental screening
At every well checkup your pediatrician will be making sure that your child is meeting her or his developmental milestones, whether they are 4 months, 4 years or 14 years old. For babies and toddlers, these milestones come rapidly as children’s brains are learning many new skills every day, from crawling to walking and from first words to conversations. It is important to make sure your child is acquiring these necessary skills for brain development every step of the way.
For older kids and teens, these milestones become less apparent, but are just as important, and are often reflected in a child’s ability to handle academics, relationships and emotions. Your pediatrician is here to help at every stage of your child’s development.
#2 Relationship building
It’s important for your child to develop a rapport with their pediatrician. They are positive role models for young kids and help lessen their fear of going to the doctor. When your child is a teenager, parents are often asked to leave the exam room so the pediatrician can speak to the teen in private.
Your child will feel more comfortable asking personal questions about their body and puberty later in life if their pediatrician has been a constant figure and steady resource since childhood.
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#3 Mental health check up
Well checks also serve as a mental and behavioral health check-in. Your pediatrician can help evaluate your child’s mental health and well-being over time. If your child is experiencing anxiety or depressive symptoms, having a trusted medical doctor who knows them and sees them regularly is a key component to getting them the help and resources you and your child need.
#4 Enforcing healthy habits
Well-child checks are a great opportunity to reinforce healthy habits. Often, kids will listen to their pediatrician more than their parents – especially teens!
Pediatricians can help can remind children about the importance of eating healthy, doing their homework, brushing their teeth, wearing helmets — and listening to their parents! Pediatricians can also help parents understand the impact of these healthy habits and how to empower their kids to make healthy choices.
#5 Getting answers to questions you didn’t know you had
“During many well appointments in my office, parents will often say they don’t have any questions and by the end of the visit,” says Dr. Williamson. “Then, they realized they wanted a mole checked, had questions about behavior, and wanted to know if they should be concerned about their child’s occasional headaches.”
“At the very least, I offer reassurance to concerning questions, and at most, I check labs or refer a patient to a specialist for an issue I am also concerned about,” she says.
#6 Help with parenting
Pediatricians are resources for parents just as much as we are caretakers of your children. Pediatricians specialize in taking care of infants, children and teens – but they can also be there for you as a parent.
“We take a team-based approached to taking care of our patients and their families,” says Dr. Williamson.
In the early years, the parents are at the helm of the health choices of their children, and as their children become more independent, the approach becomes a partnership with the child practicing their decision-making skills and with the parent and pediatrician close behind giving guidance and reassurance.
This transition can be challenging for both kids and parents alike, and pediatricians are there to support both in this process.
“We know it takes a village to raise healthy and happy children, and pediatricians are honored to be a part of that sacred village,” says Dr. Williamson.
Frequently asked questions about kids’ well checks
What ages are children recommended to be seen for well checks?
Newborns require frequent well checks to ensure their growth and development are on track.
Babies should receive a well check at the following ages:
- The first-week visit (3 to 5 days old)
- 2 – 3 months
- 4 – 5 months
- 6 – 8 months
- 9 – 11 months
- 12 – 14 months
- 15 – 17 months
- 18 – 23 months
Children should receive well checks at the following ages:
- 2.5 years
- 3 years
- 4 years
- 5 years
- 6 years
- 7 years
- 8 years
- 9 years
- 10 years
- 11 years
- 12 years
- 13 years
- 14 years
- 15 years
- 16 years
- 17 years
- 18 years
- 19 years
- 20 years
- 21 years
What should be included in a well check?
At a well-child visit, a pediatrician will:
- Perform a physical exam.
- Give your child any necessary immunizations.
- Track your child’s growth and development since their last visit.
- Talk about illness prevention, nutrition, exercise, mental health, and safety.
- Talk about how to handle emergencies and sudden illness.
- Answer any questions and concerns you may have about your child’s development, growth, or behavior.
Are well checks free?
Preventative care, such as well checks, is usually 100% covered by most insurance plans. Without insurance, you’ll need to check your state’s policies regarding well checks.
For more health and wellness resources from the pediatric experts at CHOC, sign up for the Kids Health newsletter.
How to prevent and treat respiratory illnesses this season
Unfortunately, many kids get infected with respiratory illnesses in the fall and winter seasons. CHOC experts highly encourage all eligible members of households to receive their annual flu shots. Other preventative measures like good hygiene and staying home when sick can help protect families from illness. The following articles and guides provide more information.
From babies to teens, pediatricians from CHOC’s Primary Care Network partner with parents to offer immunizations, sick visits, sports physicals and more.