What is a Well Child Exam?
If your child isn’t sick, why should you schedule a doctor appointment? Actually, there are many reasons why this is recommended by doctors everywhere.
Children grow quickly and it’s important to monitor and track their changes so potential problems can be identified as early as possible. Well child exams are important to ensure that your child is maintaining a healthy growth pattern, developing socially and receiving the immunizations necessary for prevention of illnesses. Even in their teenage years, well child visits can open up a dialogue about certain topics that may be too embarrassing or worrisome for teens to discuss with their parents. The outcomes of these discussions could be life-changing – even life-saving – for your teen.
What to Expect During Well Child Visits
Well child visits will change as your child grows older. These appointments may include some of the following tests and discussions:
- Physical check of their body from head to toe
- Height, weight and head circumference measurements, plotting those numbers on a growth chart
- Blood pressure check
- Hearing test
- Vision test and check of the eyes
- Checks for any swelling in the lymph nodes
- Listening to the heart and lungs to identify abnormalities
- Checking the genital area
- Skin inspections to look for eczema, rashes, etc.
- Hand/eye coordination tests
- Mobility checks
- Reflex tests to check for nervous system disorders
- Balance tests
- Scoliosis checks
- Vocal/speech abilities
- Inquiries about behavior, social development and sleep habits
- Recommendations for nutrition
- Discussions of safety issues including child seats, seatbelts, sunscreen, helmets, internet usage, etc.
- Discussions of substance use, sexual behavior, mental health concerns, etc.
- Potty training tips
You should have an open dialogue with your child’s doctor about any concerns you may have regarding your child’s physical, mental or emotional development. As a parent or guardian, you know your child best and you may be the first to identify any potential problems.
Frequency of Well Child Visits
Your child will have most of their well child appointments during their first two years of life. Your infant’s first visit should be 3-5 days after they are born. After that, visits should be scheduled at:
- 1 month of age
- 2 months of age
- 4 months of age
- 6 months of age
- 9 months of age
- 12 months of age
- 18 months of age
- 24 months of age (2 years old)
- 30 months of age (2.5 years old)
- Then annually from ages 3-21
If your child has any health problems, your doctor may recommend more frequent visits.
Well Visits During a Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic made some parents reconsider scheduling well visits for their children. In reality, it is more important than ever to keep these regular appointments. COVID-19 is not the only potential illness out there. Postponing things like vaccines can protect your child from such serious illnesses as mumps, measles, whooping cough, flu, etc. Your pediatrician or family doctor is still the best place to take your child for their well visits. Doctor offices are taking extra precautions to ensure a safe environment for these appointments:
- Thoroughly sanitizing or disinfecting common patient areas between visits
- Requiring all patients and staff to wear masks
- Limiting the number of patients and parents in the office
- Performing health checks upon arrival (temperature checks, illness questions, etc.)
- Urging patients to keep socially distanced from each other
Are Well Child Visits Mandatory?
Well child visits are not required by law. However, some vaccines are required for entrance into some day care centers or public schools and you can get the appropriate vaccines at the right timeframe during the well visits. Each state has their own immunization requirements. You can learn more about specific requirements by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website here. For South Carolina vaccine requirements, click here.
The primary care doctors at Westgate Family Physicians offer well child visits in Spartanburg, SC. We can help you take a proactive approach to your child’s health. Contact us today to get your child on the right path to health and wellness: (864) 574-0070 or click here to schedule an appointment online.