Preventive health care can help us stay healthy. That’s why doctors recommend annual physicals for adults. Pediatricians recommend well-child checkups for kids and teens because prevention is particularly important for young people. Regular exams and tests are an effective way to track your child’s health and development. And, catching health issues early can increase the chances of finding a treatment or a cure.
Most health plans, including APWU Health Plans, offer 100 percent coverage for well-child visits and immunizations as described in the Bright Future Guidelines provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Just make sure your child sees a doctor in your health plan’s network.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has developed a schedule of well-child screenings and assessments to help parents understand how often healthy children should see a pediatrician. Some children may need more frequent screenings depending on specific health conditions or concerns.
Taking a few simple steps can help you get the most out of each well-child visit:
- Bring a list of questions. Your pediatrician is your most valuable resource for questions and concerns you have about your child’s health and well-being. These appointments give you a chance to discuss your child’s physical and mental milestones, social behaviors, and learning. Your pediatrician can also answer questions about everything from bed-wetting and toilet training to sleep, nutrition, safety, and more.
- Budget your time. Ask your most important questions first. If you have a lot of questions, plan to continue the discussion at future appointments.
- Take notes about your child’s health and development. Talk to your pediatrician if you’re concerned that your child isn’t meeting normal developmental milestones. Also, be sure to mention any changes in behavior or routines.
- Plan ahead. The Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative created the well-visit planner as an online tool parents can use to create a personalized guide for well-child visits. All you have to do is answer a few questions and identify your priorities.
Regular well-child visits build your child’s medical history and let your pediatrician track your child’s progress and development. By making sure all vaccinations are up-to-date, your pediatrician can also help prevent illness. Over time, visits provide a chance to create strong relationships among parents, children, and the pediatrician.
During a well-child visit, your pediatrician will:
- Perform a thorough physical exam
- Track your child’s growth and development
- Record your child’s height, weight, and other important information
- Give your child vaccines according to recommended childhood and adolescent immunization schedules
- Address any emotional or social concerns
- Talk about safety and preventing injuries
- Monitor any existing health problems
Some visits may also include hearing tests, vision tests, blood pressure screenings, and cholesterol screenings.
Well-child visits encourage teenagers to start taking responsibility for their own physical and emotional well-being. Your pediatrician can help teens develop healthy habits and answer questions about exercise, nutrition, screen time, sleep, and more. Parents can also ask important questions about sensitive topics, including vaping, smoking, alcohol and drug use, eating disorders, sexual activity, and depression.
Routine well-child visits are an essential part of preventive care, but be sure to seek health care any time your child seems ill or is injured. Take a moment to consider your options so you’ll know where to go for care when symptoms come on suddenly or something unexpected happens.