Well Child Checks

What is a well child check?

  • A well child check is when your child sees a caregiver to prevent health problems. It is a different type of visit than when your child sees a caregiver because he is sick. Well child checks are used to track your child's growth and development. Caregivers also look for unknown medical problems so they can be treated without delay. Your child should have regular well child checks from birth to age 17.

  • Well child checks are a time for parents to learn ways to prevent illness and injury. They are also a time for parents to ask questions. Always write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Where do I take my child for well child checks?

It is best to find a medical home for your child. A medical home is a doctor's office or clinic where your child sees the same caregivers every time. These caregivers will get to know your child and your family so they can give him the best care. A medical home will keep your child's health records. They will also make sure he receives immunizations (shots) on a certain schedule to protect him from diseases. Try to find a medical home for your child. Do this even if you do not have health insurance. You may be able to find out more about health care and immunizations if you contact the following:

  • Your child's school or child care center.

  • Your state or local public health department.

  • Your social services department.

What will happen at every well child check?

What happens at a well child check depends on your child's age. There are some things your caregiver will always do at a well child check. Your caregiver will:

  • Measure your child's height and weight to make sure he is growing as he should.

  • Perform a physical exam. He will take your child's temperature. He will listen to his heart and lungs.

  • Ask you questions about what your child eats and drinks.

  • Ask you questions about your child's behavior. He may check your child's development with simple tests.

  • Review your child's immunization schedule. He will give your child immunizations as he needs them. This is done on a schedule that is safe for your child but still will protect him from diseases.

What happens at well child checks for newborns and infants ?

Newborns are younger than 1 month old. Infants are 1 month to 1 year old.

  • Your child should have his first well child check 3 to 5 days after he is born. He should have 6 more well child checks during his first year of his life. These usually happen at 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, and 12 months of age.

  • Your child's caregiver will measure your child's head growth. He will ask how often your child breastfeeds or drinks formula. He will want to know how well your child sleeps. He will help you decide when your child is ready for solid food and what to feed him. He will also ask how often your child urinates and has a bowel movement. He will ask about your child's behavior and who takes care of him. Your child should receive immunizations at almost all of these visits. Ask for more information about newborn and infant growth and development.

What happens at well child checks for toddlers and preschoolers?

Toddlers are 1 to 2 years of age. Preschoolers are 2 to 5 years of age.

  • Your child should have well child checks when he is 15 months, 18 months, 24 months, 30 months, 3 years, 4 years, and 5 years of age. Your child's caregiver will look for growth delays or conditions, such as autism. He will measure your child's head growth until he is 2 years old. He may check your child's teeth or tell you to take your child to a dentist. Your child's caregiver will also monitor your child's weight and how it compares to his height. This is done to make sure your child does not weigh more or less than he should.

  • At age 3, your child's caregiver may begin to check your child's blood pressure at every visit. He will begin to check your child's vision and hearing. Your child's caregiver will also talk to your child to find out if his speech is normal. Your child should continue to receive immunizations at some of these checks. Ask for more information about toddler and preschooler growth and development.

What happens at well child checks for children 5 to 12 years old?

  • Your child should have a well child check every year. Your child's caregiver may check your child's vision and hearing many times between ages 5 and 12. He will talk to you about your child's nutrition, physical activity, and time spent on TV, computers, or video games.

  • Your child's caregiver will check for problems with your child's spine. He will check for any changes in birthmarks. Your child's caregiver will talk to your child about safety. This includes car seats and seat belts, wearing a helmet, and water safety. He will look for signs of any emotional or mental problems in your child, such as depression. Your child may need immunizations at these visits. Ask for more information about growth and development for children 5 to 12 years old.

What happens at well child checks for teens 13 to 17 years old?

  • Your child should have a well child check every year. Your child's caregiver will talk to you and your child about physical activity and nutrition at these visits. Your child's caregiver will look for signs of depression in your child. He will talk about puberty and the changes your child will go through while becoming an adult. He may check your child's skin for acne. Breast and pelvic exams may be needed for girls and testicular exams may be needed for boys.

  • Your child's caregiver will explain the health effects of smoking, drinking alcohol, and taking drugs. He may talk to your child about sex and how to prevent infections or pregnancy. Ask your child's caregiver for more information about teenage growth and development.

Where can I find more information?

  • American Academy of Pediatrics
    141 Northwest Point Boulevard
    Elk Grove Village , IL 60007-1098
    Phone: 1- 847 - 434-4000
    Web Address: http://www.aap.org
  • American Academy of Family Physicians
    11400 Tomahawk Creek Parkway
    Leawood , KS 66211-2680
    Phone: 1- 913 - 906-6000
    Phone: 1- 800 - 274-2237
    Web Address: http://www.aafp.org

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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