Getting your kids to their yearly well-child visits helps them be their healthiest. These visits with your doctor are for a full checkup to make sure they’re healthy and developing normally. This is different from other visits for sickness or injury.
What Happens at Well-Child Visits
Your child needs to have yearly well-child visits with their doctor to focus on their development, health, and wellness. At the appointment, some of the basics your doctor will cover are:
- Checking that your child is developing at a healthy rate and tracking their history
- Getting a physical exam
- Staying up to date with their preventive care
- Getting education and counseling
- If needed, setting health goals
Your Child’s Development
Your child’s doctor can help you keep track of your child’s key developmental milestones, which can include physical, mental, and social skills.
At each visit, your doctor will ask you questions to help make sure your child is reaching milestones on schedule. This can help them recognize signs of problems early on and put your mind at ease.
Each child grows differently. Some kids take longer to open up or learn to read and write. Most of these aren’t a sign that something’s wrong. Your doctor can help you understand what differences could be because of something serious.
Developmental milestones for most kids ages 5 to 10 include:
- Skills for school, like paying attention, reading, and math
- Listening, waiting their turn to talk, and having full conversations
- Bathing, brushing their teeth, and getting dressed themselves
- Learning to try again in the face of a mistake or failure
- Becoming friends with other kids
- Joining teams and activities, like sports, ballet, or music lessons, to develop skills and spend time with other kids
- Helping with easy chores around the house, like picking up after themselves
- Following rules at home
Health Information & History
At well-child visits, your doctor will ask you to answer some questions about your kid’s health, and maybe even your family history.
- Health questions, like:
- Do they ever complain of headaches, stomachaches, or other kinds of pain?
- Do they have trouble breathing or always get sick at a certain time of year?
- Eating habit questions, like:
- What do they eat on a normal day?
- Are they a picky eater?
- Activity questions, like:
- What do they like to do on the weekends and after school?
- Do they participate in any physical activities?
- Do they spend time with friends?
- School questions, like:
- Do they like going to school?
- Are they having any trouble with learning, paying attention, or following directions in class?
- Are they being bullied?
- And family questions, like:
- Have there been any changes in the family, like a new sibling?
- Have you given them responsonsibilities, like simple chores, at home?
At your child’s appointments, you can expect their doctor to:
- Measure their height, weight, and blood pressure
- Check their body and limbs
- Take their temperature
- Check their vision and hearing
- Give them any shots or screenings they need
Education, Counseling & Health Goals
Your child’s doctor can help you with important information about caring for your child, managing any conditions or diseases they might have, and preventing future problems.
Their doctor might have valuable handouts, websites, and advice to help or might want to refer you to a specialist who can help with specific issues further.
Their doctor can also help you set health goals to maintain or improve your child’s health, like maintaining a healthy weight.
Prepare for Well-Child Visits
Preparing yourself with questions to ask and answers to your doctor’s questions can help you make the most of your well-child visits.
Know Your Family and Child’s History
Make sure you bring any medical records you have that the doctor might not, especially to a first appointment with a new doctor, like a record of shots and screening results.
You should also make a list of any important changes in your child’s life, like being sick or hurt, a new brother or sister, the death of a loved one, a big move, or a new school.
Your family’s history of health and wellness is also an important part of your child’s health record. Histories of illness and disease can help doctors look out for issues that run in families and more.
This family health history tool can help you track your family’s health, so that you’re always organized to talk to your child’s doctor. Not sure about your family history? Filling this out is the perfect time to talk to family members for firsthand details.
Talk to Your Doctor and Help Your Child Get More Involved
Prepare for your well-child visits by knowing any questions or issues you want to talk about ahead of time. Some things you might want to ask about:
- Worries about their development
- Health conditions, like asthma, allergies, or speech problems
- Mood changes
- Getting ready to talk to them about puberty
- Problems in school, like signs of dyslexia or bullying
- Making sure your kids eat right and get enough exercise
- Screen time and internet safety
- Preventive care they need
- What to do if they get sick or hurt
Once your child is 7 or older, as long as they’re comfortable, your child’s doctor will probably want to spend a few minutes alone with them. This will help them build trust with their doctor.
Know What’s Covered
Learn more about what immunizations are covered for your children. And log in to Your Health Alliance or search by your or your child’s member number to see what children’s preventive care your family’s plan covers.
If you’re not sure what’s covered and what you’ll need a preauthorization for, you can check your coverage and preauthorization lists at Your Health Alliance.