What You Need To Know About Well-Child Visits

What is a well-child visit? It’s one of the easiest ways a parent can help ensure their child is growing up healthy and strong.

Well-child visits are proactive check-ups for children with their pediatric or family care provider. During these check-ups, the provider evaluates the child’s health, reviews their developmental milestones, and administers any needed vaccinations. They are most common and frequent during a child’s first few years of life, but the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends well-child visits continue through adolescence and into young adulthood.

A well-child visit is also a chance for parents to ask their pediatric care provider questions about the health and development of their child.

“One of the most common questions I get from new parents is, ‘How do I get my baby to sleep through the night?’” said Nancy Cox, Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, “And if the baby is very young, the answer is simply, ‘you won’t!’”

Cox answers that particular question with a smile. For many parents, the calming reassurance Cox and her colleagues provide is the real value of the well-child visit. These visits let parents establish a dialogue, ask questions, and learn from trusted medical professionals about their child’s growth and development.

 “Babies and kids grow up so fast, and they should be meeting their milestones,” says Cox. Well-child visits provide an opportunity for a provider to conduct thorough assessments and check that the child is completing common development milestones. For a baby, these milestones include responding to lights and sounds, turning his/her head, and rolling over at appropriate ages. If a baby hasn’t completed a specific milestone, however, that isn’t necessarily cause for alarm. Taken collectively, the milestones are good indicators for child development and can act as conversation starters with the parent and provider.

“If a milestone isn’t met, I schedule a follow-up in a month and give parents some homework,” says Cox. “If a baby is struggling to roll over [for example], I ask the parents to get down on the baby’s level, put a toy just out of reach, and have them encourage their child to get the toy.”

Milestones as children grow older including counting, following instructions, social mirroring, and recognizing and naming household objects. Speech development and reproduction, another milestone involving the enunciation of specific words and sounds, can be a common challenge for toddlers.

“Sometimes [a speaking challenge] results in a referral to our therapy department,” said Cox. A speech language pathologist can work one-on-one with children and teach them techniques to correctly reproduce some of the more difficult sounds.

Other areas covered in a well-child visit are measurements such as height, weight, blood pressure, and head circumference; vision and hearing assessments; and recommended immunizations. Though immunizations are not mandatory as part of a well-child visit, they are highly encouraged and are the best way to protect children from potentially deadly diseases.

Well-Child Visit Resources

JCHC has compiled resources from trusted organizations like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that are listed below. These reputable sources offer the most accurate information to follow regarding your child’s recommended care.

Whether you just welcomed your first child into the world, or are preparing for your oldest to graduate high school, well-child visits are an easy way to track the health of your children. JCHC providers are ready to support your parenting journey and help your child live a long and fulfilling life.