Well-child care: A key to growing up healthy

A hurried and worried trip to the doctor for illness or injury is no time to ask questions about your child’s behavior, diet, sleep or other issues. Carly Wilbur, MD, a pediatrician with UH Rainbow Care Network, recommends regularly scheduling visits instead. “Regularly scheduled well-child visits offer you a chance to check on your child’s development, get reassurance about parenting and develop a closer relationship with your child’s doctor,” she says.

Well-child visits keep kids healthy

At these visits, your child’s doctor may:

  • Check your child’s growth, weight and height
  • Give vaccinations to prevent disease
  • Test for illnesses
  • Check sight, hearing and teeth
  • Discuss child safety, eating and development
  • Answer questions you have about your child’s health

“The goal is to catch or prevent any problems early,” says Dr. Wilbur. She recommends preparing ahead of time to ensure you get the information you need and the doctor gets to know you and your child.

“Write down three to five important questions to ask the doctor,” says Dr. Wilbur. “Talk with other people who know your child well, such as a grandparent or caregiver, to see if they have a concern. These concerns and questions will help you focus the visit on your child’s individual needs.”

Ease your child’s fears

Children are sometimes scared of going to the doctor. Dr. Wilbur suggests these tips to help prepare your child:

  • Tell your child, or show on a toy, what will happen at the doctor’s office.
  • Let your child play with medical toys, such as a toy stethoscope.
  • Be honest if something, such as a vaccination, may be painful. Tell your child it will only hurt for a little while.
  • Teach your child to relax by breathing slowly or counting make-believe animals while getting a shot.
  • Tell your child you will stay in the doctor’s office the whole time. Then, do it.

When to schedule well-child visits

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants have their first well-child visit within two to four days after coming home from the hospital. After that, well-child visits should occur at the following ages:

  • 1 month
  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • 6 months
  • 9 months
  • 12 months (1 year)
  • 15 months
  • 18 months
  • 24 months (2 years)
  • 30 months (2½ years)
  • 36 months (3 years)

After your child is 3 years old, schedule a well-child visit once a year up until age 21.

To schedule an appointment with a UH Rainbow Care Network pediatric primary care provider, call 216-UH4-KIDS or visit RainbowBabies.org.

Carly Wilbur

Pediatrician, UH Rainbow Care Network
Clinical Instructor, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

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