The early years of a child’s life are important to their lifelong health and development. During those first years it is necessary to identify and prevent potential issues that could compromise the child’s health. This is done through a series of well-child checks or visits.

Well-child checks allow a doctor to track the development of the child. Each check provides an opportunity to measure progress and make sure they get the care they need to stay healthy. Let’s look at the basics of the well-child visit, and how they can help you and your child.

Pre-Birth Visit

The first of these well-child checks can actually occur before the child has been born. This will function as a simple way for parents to make their final preparations for birth and ask any questions they may have.

These visits are especially recommended for parents having their first child, or parents who have any kind of a high-risk pregnancy. Parents are encouraged to ask any questions they have, no matter how simple they may seem. Common questions include topics like feeding issues, circumcision choices and other basic health concerns.

pre-birth check

Child Visit Information

Once the child is born, these well-child checks will begin in earnest. Just like with the pre-birth visit, you’re encouraged to bring any questions you have about the child’s health or development.

Some of the areas that will be addressed during well-child checks can include:

  • Growth and child development: Basic measurements like height and weight are taken, and compared with where they were at the last visit, as well as with normal growth charts for children at the same age. This is also a time to talk about mental development along with physical health – how a child is developing socially and whether they’re learning correctly at a given age.
  • Prevention: If your child needs immunizations for common illnesses, this is often when they’ll get them. This is also a good time to check up on other preventive items like the child’s nutrition and their basic safety.
  • Basic family wellness: These visits are truly about ensuring the entire family is healthy and comfortable. Issues like family dynamics, community relationships and schooling considerations might also be raised during your well-child visit.

Depending on your child’s individual development, there may be other important topics that become a regular part of your well-child visits.

well-child check

Frequency Recommendations

In general, it’s recommended that you follow these guidelines for how often your child receives a well-child visit (beginning with the soonest visit after birth):

  • • 2 or 3 days after bringing the baby home (or 2 to 4 days old for babies released from the hospital before 2 days – for parents who are not having their first child, this visit may be delayed until 1 or 2 weeks)
  • • 1 month
  • • 2 months
  • • 4 months
  • • 6 months
  • • 9 months
  • • 1 year
  • • 15 months
  • • 18 months
  • • 2 years
  • • 2 and a half years
  • • 3 years
  • • Once a year every year until age 21

If your child has any specific health issues or if you have specific concerns about their development, additional visits might be necessary. The American Academy of Pediatrics, per their child care guidelines called Bright Futures, has a group of pre-visit questionnaires you can fill out before each of the set age thresholds we listed above. These questionnaires will focus mostly on development benchmarks, nutrition and the emotional health of the entire family.

For any questions or more information about well-child care visits, speak with your healthcare provider.

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Sources:

“Well-child visits.” MedlinePlus.gov. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001928.htm

“AAP Schedule of Well-Child Care Visits.” HealthyChildren.org. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/health-management/Pages/Well-Child-Care-A-Check-Up-for-Success.aspx

“Bright Futures.” American Academy of Pediatrics. https://brightfutures.aap.org/Pages/default.aspx

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