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Well visits are vital to your child’s healthy growth and development. Starting soon after birth, you should have regular wellness visits to make sure they are developing at the expected pace and continue to remain healthy.
During these visits, you’ll have the opportunity to discuss your child’s growth, development, behavior and other health issues with the goal of preventing illness and promoting the best possible health for your child. Here is what you should expect at your child’s well visit during each stage of growth. The American Academy of Pediatrics also provides information on what to expect from your child’s pediatrician during a wellness visit.
Birth to 2 years
You should visit your child’s pediatrician frequently – at 1, 2, 4, and 6 months – then every three to six months until the age of 2. During these appointments, your doctor will check your baby’s height, weight and head circumference, and will provide vaccinations as scheduled. He or she will also discuss nutrition, feeding and sleep schedules, all of which can be challenging during this time.
These visits will also include reviewing your child’s speech, fine motor skills (use of hands), gross motor skills (moving arms and legs) and checking for signs of autism. When concerns about development are caught early, referral for services to promote development can be extremely helpful.
3 to 13 years
During these years, your child will initially have a wellness visit once a year. During these visits your child’s pediatrician will check their height, weight, blood pressure and body mass index (BMI). They will also discuss sleeping and eating habits along with checking for developmental milestones such as speaking, movement and cognition.
Before kindergarten the pediatrician will check vision and hearing, and overall readiness for school. Once your child is in school, these visits will include discussion of how he or she is doing both academically and socially. These visits also provide an opportunity for you to raise any questions about these issues and any concerns you may have about your child’s ongoing physical and mental health.
Discussions of puberty will begin around the age of 9, depending on your child’s development. Your pediatrician will also give recommended vaccinations at some of these appointments, and may order blood tests to check cholesterol.
13 to 21 years
As your child develops into a teenager, they can become more independent and may begin to spend time alone with your pediatrician during their checkups. Around this age, many teenagers wish to speak privately with their physician, and we encourage that.
These discussions will remain confidential unless the patient is in danger of harming themselves or others or if their health is in jeopardy. Ongoing health, social and school performance are discussed as well as a review of topics unique to adolescence.
Your teen’s pediatrician will check height, weight, blood pressure, BMI, hearing and vision. They will discuss healthy eating habits and will order any necessary tests, including those for sexually transmitted diseases, if necessary. Many teens will have already started puberty so this is often a topic of focus during well visits. Around the age of 15, your pediatrician will discuss safe driving habits, safe sex and preventing pregnancy, along with the negative health effects of smoking, alcohol and drugs. Around the time your teens turns 18, his or her primary care physician will discuss college and staying healthy away from home.