Well checks or well-child visits are important doctor checkups that monitor your child’s health, growth, and development. These visits typically begin a few days after birth and continue into early adulthood and are different from doctor visits for illness or injury.
The main reasons for well-child visits are to:
- Monitor your child’s health and development.
- Address any health concerns with your child’s doctor.
- Keep your child up to date on vaccinations.
Here’s what to expect during these checkups as your child ages.
Well-Child Visits – First Year
Once your baby is born, your pediatrician will ask you to schedule your first well-child visit three to five days after birth. Since your baby will be developing skills at a rapid rate, the next five visits should happen before their first birthday.
Well-child visits typically occur around these ages:
- 3 to 5 days
- 1 month
- 2 months
- 4 months
- 6 months
- 9 months
- 12 months
These visits will cover important measurements, vaccinations, and physical exams. You can expect to discuss your baby’s eating habits, sleeping habits, behavioral concerns, growth, and development with your pediatrician.
These visits are great times to ask questions and voice any concerns. Frequent well-child visits in your baby’s first year also give you an opportunity to be in closer contact with your child’s doctor, which helps establish that relationship as your child grows up.
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Well-Child Visits – Toddler Years
Well-child visits should continue to be scheduled on a six-month basis until your child turns 3. During these visits, you can expect the doctor to measure your child’s head, check their teeth, update their vaccines, and monitor their height and weight.
Once your toddler is 3, your doctor may begin to check their blood pressure. The doctor may also start talking directly with your child to monitor speech development. These well-child visits also will ensure your child is hitting the right milestones for enrollment in preschool.
Well-child Visits – Childhood to Preteens
Once your child is in school, they will need well-child visits only once a year. From ages 5 to 12, you can expect your health care provider to check your child’s vision, hearing, spine, and skin. They may discuss your child’s nutrition, physical activity, and time spent in front of different screens.
Your doctor will likely review car, bicycle, and water safety issues with your child, such as wearing seat belts, helmets, and life vests. Your child may require vaccinations at these visits as well.
Well-Child Visits – Teens
As your preteen becomes a teenager, they should continue to have a well-child visit every year. This is a great time for you and your child to talk to the doctor about any questions or concerns you may have about teenage growth and development.
Because teens are beginning to learn health independence, the doctor will want to develop a direct patient-doctor relationship with your child. You may be asked to step outside the exam room for a few moments during the exam to respect your child’s privacy.
Teenagers experience many changes and your child’s doctor may discuss the following topics with them:
- Physical activity
- Mental health
- Sexual activity
The doctor may do a breast exam, pelvic exam, or testicular exam at this age. Your child’s doctor may also discuss the health effects of drinking, smoking, and taking drugs.
Making the Most of Well-Child Visits
It’s important to remember that these visits are not just helpful to keep your child’s health on track — they are beneficial for you as well. Prepare ahead of time by writing down any questions or concerns you may have about your child’s development. These checkups are a great opportunity to create a relationship with your child’s health care provider and better understand your child’s development.
From nutrition to illnesses, from athletics to school, children will face many challenges growing up. Parents often will make important health care decisions for them. We hope to help guide both of you in that journey. UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh is a national leader in pediatric care, ranking consistently on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals Honor Roll. We provide expert treatment for pediatric diseases, along well-child visits, urgent care, and more. With locations across Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia, you can find world-class care close to home. We also work closely with UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, a national leader in care for newborns and their mothers. Our goal is to provide the best care for your children, from birth to adulthood and beyond. Visit our website to find a doctor near you.