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Well Child Visits
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
A well child visit is when your child sees a healthcare provider to prevent health problems. It is a different type of visit than when your child sees a healthcare provider because he is sick. Well child visits are used to track your child's growth and development. It is also a time for you to ask questions and to get information on how to keep your child safe. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them. Your child should have regular well child visits from birth to 17 years.
Where to take your child for well child visits:
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 healthcare providers every time. A medical home will also keep your child's health records. The healthcare providers will get to know your child and your family so they can give him the best care. They will also make sure he receives vaccines on the recommended immunization schedule to protect him from diseases.
What will happen at well child visits:
What happens at a well child visit depends on your child's age. Your child's healthcare provider will do the following at well child visits:
- Measure your child's height and weight to make sure he is growing as he should
- Perform a physical exam, take your child's temperature, and listen to his heart and lungs
- Ask you what your child eats and drinks
- Ask you about your child's behavior, or test your child's development
- Review your child's immunization record and give him vaccines as needed
What happens at well child visits for newborns and infants:
Newborns are younger than 1 month old. Infants are 1 month to 1 year old.
- Your baby should have his first well child visit 3 to 5 days after he is born. He should have 6 more well child visits during the first year of his life. These usually happen at 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, and 12 months of age.
- Your baby's healthcare provider will measure and chart his head growth. He will ask how often your baby breastfeeds or drinks formula. He may review the importance of breastfeeding for the first year of your baby's life. Talk to him about any problems with or concerns about breastfeeding. He will help you decide when your baby is ready for solid food and what to feed him. He will want to know how well your baby sleeps and how often he urinates and has bowel movements. He will ask about your baby's behavior and who takes care of him. Your baby should receive vaccines at almost all of these visits. Ask for more information about newborn and infant growth and development.
What happens at well child visits for toddlers and preschoolers:
Toddlers are 1 to 2 years of age. Preschoolers are 2 to 5 years of age.
- Your child's toddler well child visits will happen at 15, 18, 24, and 30 months of age. His preschool well child visits will happen at 3, 4, and 5 years of age. His healthcare provider will look for growth delays and developmental 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. He will also monitor your child's weight and height to make sure he does not weigh too much or too little.
- At age 3, your child's healthcare provider may begin to check your child's blood pressure at every visit. Your child's healthcare provider will also talk to your child to find out if his speech is normal. Your child should continue to receive vaccines at some of these visits. Ask for more information about toddler and preschooler growth and development.
What happens at well child visits for children 5 to 12 years old:
- Your child should have a well child visit every year. His healthcare provider may check his 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 healthcare provider will check for problems with your child's spine. He will check for any changes in birthmarks. He will talk to you about safety. This includes car seats and seat belts, helmets for bicycles and sports, and water safety. Your child may need vaccines at these visits. Ask for more information about growth and development for children 5 to 12 years old.
What happens at well child visits for teens 13 to 17 years old:
- Your child should have a well child visit every year. Your child's healthcare provider will talk to you and your child about physical activity and nutrition. He 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 healthcare provider 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 and pregnancy. Ask your child's healthcare provider for more information about teenage growth and development.
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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.