Getting on Schedule: Benefits of Well-Child Visits
Posted 1/12/2017 by UHBlog
When children feel sick, often the first call parents make is to the doctor. But well exams– or regularly scheduled doctors’ visits that occur when your child is not ill – are just as important to your child’s overall health and well-being, says pediatrician Jason Tatka, DO.
“Well visits provide an immeasurable degree of continuity of care,” says Dr. Tatka. “When you have that continuity of care, you get to really know the patient, which helps in diagnosing illnesses and prescribing the right medications later on.”
At these visits, your child's doctor also screens for developmental and growth delays in your child, which, if found, are important to address as soon as possible.
“Earlier intervention is always more effective than later,” Dr. Tatka says.
And sometimes, your child’s academic problem at school might be solved simply by a new glasses prescription, which her doctor will pick up on during the vision screening part of a well visit.
While most sick visits are spent talking about immediate health concerns, well visits present a great opportunity for you to explore any questions you have about your child’s overall well-being and development.
“I tell parents to come to the appointment with any observations or concerns they have," he says. "Well visits are a great time to chat about anything you are feeling unsure or worried about.”
Though well visits are ostensibly check-ups just for your child, many parents often leave the appointments feeling better themselves.
According to Dr. Tatka, a typical well visit exam includes:
- Checking your child's body measurements (growth, weight and height). These measurements will be plotted on a growth chart to make sure your child is growing consistently, Dr. Tatka says.
- Inquiring about any health concerns or questions you have
- Administering vaccines (when needed) to protect against serious illnesses and complications. For the kids who are scared about getting shots, Dr. Tatka says that he likes to point out that “vaccinations make us stronger.” He tells his young patients, “Many adults have gotten them, and, as a result, are now healthy and okay.”
- Checking vision, hearing, teeth and reflexes
- Discussing age-appropriate developmental milestones and healthy eating and sleeping habits
Although you might prefer to wait until the start of school to book an appointment, Dr. Tatka says there are advantages in scheduling the exam around your child’s birthday instead.
“Birthdays are a natural reference point that are easily remembered,” he says. “If you use your child’s birthday as a reference, you are much more likely to get a date and time on the schedule that is convenient for you, rather than try to schedule around the rush that typically begins with the school year.”
Jason Tatka, DO is a pediatrician at University Hospitals Portage Pediatrics. You can request an appointment with Dr. Tatka or any other doctor online.