Annual Well-Check Visits
Regular check-ups, also called well-child visits, ensure your children are growing up healthy and strong. But at least 20 percent of kids miss some recommended visits. Take your child to the doctor at the following ages:
||2 to 4 days
||Annually every year from ages 3 to 21
Well-check visits, immunizations and dental check-ups are an investment in your child's future. They can help prevent illness and keep small health problems from becoming big, life-changing ones. In addition to the physical exam, where the doctor examines your child's body, every well-visit should involve:
- Measurements. The doctor will weigh your child and check her height. Until age 2, infants' head sizes are measured with a tape. Growth charts show if your child is meeting development milestones. Blood pressure is also taken.
- Immunizations. The doctor will give your child shots to protect against serious illnesses such as measles, pneumonia, and the flu. Eleven different childhood vaccines are available. For the latest recommended schedule, ask the doctor.
- Behavior assessments. Young brains, like young bodies, are changing rapidly. The doctor will make sure your child's mental health is on track using tools such as behavior checklists.
- Monitoring developmental milestones. Doctors know about when your child should be sitting up, walking, and talking. Report these events and any concerns you have.
Some appointments will also involve:
- Hearing tests. The doctor will play noises and test how your child's brain and ears respond.
- Eye exams. The doctor will watch your infant track a bright light and look inside her eyes to check for cataracts and other problems. As your child gets older, she'll read letters from an eye chart to detect vision problems.
- Other screenings if there's a problem. Depending on your child's risk factors, the doctor may recommend checking for lead poisoning or other issues.
To make the most of well-child visits, write down your concerns beforehand. Ask questions and talk openly with your child's pediatrician.