Routine ‘Well Child’ Visits Build Platform For A Healthy Child
By Paul Tebbe, MD // June 18, 2012
Both Pediatricians and parents alike share one common goal–healthy children. However, “well child” visits should not be confused with “sick child” visits.
“Well-child” appointments are designed to raise questions and concerns about the child’s development, behaviors and general well being — focusing on questions, which are difficult to discuss during visits when the child is actually sick.
As an example, during “well child” visits, pediatricians discuss common concerns such as eating, sleeping, toilet training, social behaviors, as well as attention and learning problems. A routine “well child” visit to discuss concerns that matter to parents is a key element in helping the pediatrician better know the child, while also a perfect opportunity to form a trustworthy and reliable relationship between parent and physician.
A comprehensive “well child” care program is important from a preventive care perspective and sets the stage for a lifetime of good health. In total, “well child” care requires an average of 27 visits and nearly as many vaccines between birth and age 21.
Tips For Making The Most Of A Well Child Appointment
- It’s important to create an honest, communicative relationship between you, the parent, and your child’s pediatrician. A trusting relationship between the parties is a priority for high quality care for your child.
- Be open and honest in terms of discussions concerning the child’s developmental, behavioral, eating or sleeping patters, and relations with other family members.
- Parents should never hesitate or feel embarrassed to share information which can further “open the door” of communication between the two parties.
- You, the parent, are your child’s most important advocate; you have valuable information that will only help the pediatrician better understand the child, and be better able to keep them healthy.
Well Child Visits Also Focus On Prevention
- Immunizations are a big part of preventive care during “well child” visits. The pediatrician should ensure that your child’s immunizations are up to date, while also discuss your child’s diet, exercise habits, and sleep patterns.
- Pediatricians will conduct a number of evaluations, such as measurement of height, weight, and blood pressure, a check of vital functions, a vision and hearing screening, and a complete physical examination.
- Preventative safety issues can be addressed in terms of safety in the home and at the playground, optimal nutrition, toilet training, and environmental concerns such as lead paint exposure.
- Children should receive regular dental checkups beginning at age three.
- An eye exam is important, and if a pediatrician detects eye problems during routine screening, he or she may refer your child to an ophthalmologist for further evaluation and care.
- “Well child” visits give your pediatrician an opportunity to not only discuss your child’s physical health, but also his or her mental and emotional well-being. It is appropriate to discuss your children’s school experiences, relationships with peers, family difficulties, and daily stresses.
General Schedule of Well Child Care Visits
Well child care visits should include 3 to 5 days after birth, at 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 24, 30 and 36 months, and then once every year thereafter for an annual health supervision visit, which includes a physical exam as well as a developmental, behavioral, and learning assessment.
Pediatricians are experts in child health, but parents are experts on their child, so a team approach between parent and pediatrician will help create optimum physical, emotional, and developmental health of the child.
Through these “well child” preventive measures, your pediatrician can focus on reducing your child’s risk of illness and injury—and possibly decrease medical expenses in the process.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Paul Tebbe is a native Brevardian who graduated from Satellite High in 1987, after which he went on to earn an undergraduate degree in Zoology and his MD at the University of Florida. He completed his pediatric residency training at ORHS and Arnold Palmer Hospital in Orlando, and is a Diplomat of the American Board of Pediatrics. After residency, Dr. Tebbe moved back to Brevard County and has been a member of Pediatrics in Brevard since 1999.