As a busy mom or dad, you’re juggling it all - dashing from work to soccer practice to dance class, fitting in birthday parties, teacher conferences and family dinners around the kitchen table.
While it may feel tough to fit it all in, here’s something you don’t want to skip: well-child visits. Recommended for infants, children and teens, these medical appointments are the time for vaccinations, important health screenings, a check of your child’s development, and to ask questions and voice concerns. However, keep in mind that not every well-child visit requires vaccinations so it’s important to maintain a regular schedule of visits no matter if vaccinations are involved or not.
By some estimates, 19 to 57 percent of children miss out on some of these crucial visits. That can be risky. Children who skip well-child visits are more likely to fall behind on the vaccines they need to stay healthy.
Unlike sick visits, where the focus is on diagnosing and treating illness, every well-child visit covers a wide range of health needs, depending on your child’s age. These include:
- A physical exam
- Checks of vision, hearing, cholesterol and blood pressure at recommended ages
- An assessment of your child’s emotional health
Keep up with your rapidly growing child. Children’s minds and bodies grow quickly. Well visits help you keep pace with what they need now. You have time to talk about topics like:
- Healthy eating
- Physical activity
- How your child’s doing in school, at home and in activities
And, well-child visits can help determine an underlying health condition, leading to quicker treatment and greater success. Take for example one of my patients - Griffin Gudex. Griffin’s mom, Brenda, wants to get the word out that well-child visits can be lifesaving. It was about a year ago that Griffin visited me for his five-year wellness checkup. It was during that visit that we noted his blood pressure was elevated. We monitored this over several additional visits, and through further testing learned that he was experiencing severe aortic narrowing - greatly restricting his blood flow. Griffin is doing very well now following a surgical procedure, and we will continue to follow his progress now and well into the future. Griffin will need to be monitored the rest of his lifetime.
Griffin’s story also leads to another valid consideration. If your child is sharing various concerns that you are uncertain about, don’t hesitate to call your family provider. Take note of comments like lingering abdominal or other pain, shortness of breath, and anything out of the ordinary for your child.
Well-child visits are the time for all parents to get set for success. Make the most out of every visit. It can make the world of difference for both you and your child.