Do you think that the only time you should take your child to the doctor is when she is sick? Don’t forget that well-child checkups are just as important. Pediatricians believe that preventive care is a crucial part of a child’s total health care. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you take your child in for at least nine checkups during the first three years.
According to Dr. Carol Steltenkamp, a pediatrician who is an associate professor of pediatrics in the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, “Parents often say, ‘Is it time to go to the doctor again?’ The actuality is that well-child checkups offer an opportunity to evaluate and monitor your child’s growth and development. These appointments are scheduled to allow the additional time that is required to assess and discuss your child, your family, and your concerns.” During the well-child visits, immunizations are discussed and given if it is the scheduled time.
“The pediatricians at the UK HealthCare pediatrics clinic follow the American Academy of Pediatrics Guidelines for the schedule of these well visits and immunizations,” says Steltenkamp. “We also offer prenatal visits for expectant parents. This appointment allows parents to get acquainted with the expected child’s pediatrician.”
The schedule for well-child checkups, according to the guidelines, is: newborn (newborns are routinely seen for their first visit at 3-5 days of age); 2 weeks old; 2 months old; 4 months old; 6 months old; 9 months old; 12 months old; 15 months old; 18 months old; 24 months old; 3 years old; 4 years old; 5 years old; 6 years old; 8 years old; 10 years old; and then annually through adolescence.
Remember: most of your visits to the pediatrician or your family’s primary care physician are during your child’s infancy and as they progress to be toddlers. Once the child is in preschool, there are fewer visits to the doctor. But the child’s growth and development will still be closely monitored.
“Always write down the questions you might have for your child’s pediatrician,” says Steltenkamp. “We are always glad to assist and answer questions that parents may have. After all, most of us are parents too.”