Well-Child Visits: Appointments Worth Keeping
Prevention is really the cornerstone of what we do in pediatrics.
Our team wants to share knowledge with parents so they can raise their children to fully develop in a healthy environment from that first visit after being discharged from the hospital as a newborn to going off to college.
Vaccines are at the heart of prevention, but well visits are about so much more. Aside from physical growth, children acquire a whole set of social, emotional and developmental skills. While shots may get all the attention, child growth and development are in the driver’s seat for well visits. It’s important we hear about any concerns from parents at these visits. Parental concern is the No. 1 thing that identifies developmental delays and other issues.
The first well-baby visit is usually scheduled a week after leaving the hospital. We want to assess feeding and to make sure that there are no other underlying medical conditions such as medical jaundice. We also want to support parents. It is a very exhausting, confusing and elating time, especially with that first baby.
Well-baby visits follow at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months and a year. More than 20 shots are recommended over the first 15 months of life so that babies are protected as soon as their immune system can respond to the vaccinations. If parents have questions, we can reassure them and share good information that’s based on science.
As infants transition to toddlers, the visits continue at 15 months, 18 months, 24 months and 30 months. Starting at 3, annual visits begin. It’s important to make annual visits a priority even after school entry vaccinations are complete. Even if everything is going well, we want to make sure they're growing physically, intellectually and emotionally and support parents through school age years.
In the tween years of 10-12, there are school-required booster vaccines as well as additional vaccinations to prevent cancer, meningitis and hepatitis. It’s also a time to help children grow in knowledge, awareness and ownership of their own health. We want to help them cultivate healthy habits and avoid risky behaviors.
Wellness exams for children are covered under preventive services provided by medical insurance. The Vaccines for Children program can help those without insurance access vaccines with little to no cost.
We will see children into their adolescence and young adulthood. At 18, we hand them off to an internist or a family practitioner. It’s especially important if your child has special health needs, severe asthma for example, to make sure there is a smooth transition.
We are partners in care with parents. There's so much information out there, some good, some bad. We serve as a repository of a certain subset of that knowledge, but we also want to help sort through what is good information and what is bad information.
I really enjoy being that resource for families. God takes care of babies and fools, so I've had my bases covered for a long time.
God takes care of babies and fools, so I've had my bases covered for a long time.