A well visit, also known as a routine physical or medical checkup, is recommended for children of all ages. Regular well visit examinations are important for keeping children healthy and up-to-date on their immunizations. A well visit is also an opportunity to communicate with the doctor about growth and developmental issues and any concerns about a child's overall health. While they may be scheduled more frequently when they are younger, when a child reaches the age of 3, a well care visit should be scheduled annually with a pediatrician. Preventative care is an important part of a healthy lifestyle for a child.
During the well visit examination, the doctor will observe whether the child is meeting normal developmental milestones. They may also provide information about normal development, nutrition, sleep, safety, and any illnesses that may be prevalent in the child's age group. Parents should prepare for these visits by creating a list of things they want to discuss with their child's pediatrician, to ensure they get all the information they need.
During the Visit
During a well-care visit, a complete physical examination is performed to monitor growth and development as well as detect any changes or abnormalities. The child's height and weight are measured and recorded, and compared against a normal pattern of growth. Any necessary immunizations may be administered. Additional tests often include:
- Hearing test
- Vision test
- Blood tests for anemia
- Urine test
- Blood pressure measurements
- Pulse rate
- Respiration rate
Older children may also be checked for scoliosis (curvature of the spine) and for signs of puberty. The pediatrician may also ask about the child's sleep patterns, exercise routine, and eating habits and stress the importance of personal care and hygiene to maintain good health. If a doctor suspects that a child is growing or developing too slowly, they may order additional tests to check for medical conditions such as hypothyroidism, growth hormone deficiency, or other genetic conditions that can affect growth.
Well visits are also opportunities to discuss topics such as behavioral issues, learning problems, emotional problems or difficulties at school. Doctors may be able to provide counseling or referrals to specialists who can address many of these more serious issues. Well visits are an important part of the health and well-being of children and their families.