Parents all have questions about their children’s health, but so often these burning queries go unanswered. Dr Jinan Harith Darwish tells us that well-child visits are the perfect time to pull together any concerns you might have and get all the answers.
Often, a child only visits a paediatrician when they are sick. This way, the paediatrician does not have the opportunity to look at the child’s overall health. The symptoms of a health problem can often be masked by a temporary illness that could be recognised at a well-child check-up.
This kind of check-up should be scheduled when a child is not sick. It is an outstanding way to monitor your child’s health and establish a strong connection with your paediatrician. The well-child check-up is designed to track your youngster’s growth and development, address your questions and concerns and guide you on what to anticipate next in the journey of raising a healthy kid.
The American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) recommends that children visit their paediatrician for a well-child check-up as a new-born; at three to five days after birth; by one month; at two, four, six, nine, 12, 15 and 18-months, two years and two and a half years; and once a year between the ages of three and 21 years.
The AAP’s age-specific recommendations for preventive paediatric care cover the following areas:
- Medical history;
- Measurements such as height and weight;
- Blood pressure;
- Sensory screening, vision and hearing;
- Developmental, behavioural and emotional assessment;
- Physical examination;
- Anticipatory guidance in areas such as injury prevention and nutrition counselling;
- Dental referral.
A well-child visit is a critical opportunity to detect a possible developmental delay or disability and for early treatment of potential problems, which can lessen the future impact on both the child and family.
The goal of check-ups and well-child care is to prevent future health problems and to detect current problems early before parents or children would notice them. Luckily, most children are healthy, and that’s certainly how we want to keep them. In addition, well-child visits allow paediatricians to promote behaviours conducive to healthy development and to give age-appropriate counselling or anticipatory guidance, such as the use of time-outs instead of harsher forms of discipline, and increase knowledge of child-safety practices. Physician guidance has also been found to increase the likelihood that parents will read to their child and that a child will be breastfed.
Before a well-child visit, we recommend compiling a list of questions that you might have about your child’s health or development. Your paediatrician can help you navigate through problems such as sleeping, eating, toilet training, attention and learning problems and social behaviours. Don’t be cautious to ask questions or divulge information that you think is important. You are your child’s most important advocate and uniquely positioned to help your paediatrician understand your child and your family better and provide various tailored preventive measures you as a parent can incorporate into your daily lives.