"Do I have to get a shot, Mom?" This might be the first thing your 4-year-old asks when you tell them it's time to head to the doctor's office for a check-up. And while the answer to that particular question might be yes, depending on their age, immunizations are only one aspect of your child's check-up, physical or well-child visit.
I am often asked by new parents how often they will need to bring their children to the Clinic for a routine examination. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has created a periodicity schedule which offers general guidelines about how often children should have routine examinations by a medical professional and what to look for each time. This helps, to standardize the care children get across different clinics, states and regions of the country. Many doctors will have slightly different approaches, but the AAPs schedule helps to provide a guideline.
3 – 5 Days of Life
We see newborns a lot in the beginning. That's because they’re fresh, new and delicate. And, sometimes, so are parents! The AAP recommends that physicians see children within 3-5 days of life. Which, for most full-term, healthy babies, can often be after a night or two away from the comforting confines of a hospital or birthing center. This is the ideal time to check in on parents, evaluate for jaundice or other issues that may of come up in the nursery. We will also check the baby's feeding and weight and what to expect in the next few weeks.
2 Weeks - 1 Month
If all is going well, we will check-in and see your baby at 2 weeks – 1-month-old to review growth, feeding, jaundice and to discuss any curious things you have noticed about your new baby (umbilical stump falling off, startle reflexes).
2,4,6 & 9 Months
In addition to monitoring growth and development, these next visits provide your baby their childhood vaccines. We have a schedule for that, too!
15 – 24 Months
Things start to slow down for your toddler in visits at just 15, 18, and 24 months old. After that, (based on the current immunization schedule and if vaccines have gone according to schedule thus far) your child will likely not need vaccines, other than an annual flu vaccination and those needed at the pre-kindergarten visit between 4-6 years of age.
After 24 months
Most pediatricians will choose to see their young patients annually until they are as old as 21.
Annual well-child visits allow the opportunity to discuss changes in your health, body and to check in on the developmental stages of your children. We will ask a number of questions to help us recognize any issues that need addressing. Often, this includes questions about whether or not your child is ready to tolerate rigorous activity through participation on a sports team. This is referred to as a “Sports Physical.”
Well-child visits are the opportunity to get questions answered.
- Is this normal?
- How long will it last?
- Do you know someone that can help us with…
These visits are a great opportunity for providers and parents to monitor, protect and prepare your child for a life a good health.
For some young patients dealing with chronic illnesses, developmental, or psychosocial issues, more frequent counseling and treatment visits may be necessary. And, inevitably, there will be illnesses, questions, and concerns that come up outside of the time of the well-child visit. We are available to answer any and all questions that may come your way.
DISCLAIMER: The contents and opinions expressed by Everett Clinic teammates and providers on “A Healthier You” blog and those providing comments are theirs alone and are not a substitute for medical advice. Consult your own provider for personal health recommendations.
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