Doctor checks baby's ear during well visits

General Health & Wellness • Sep 14, 2021

Does My Child Need a Checkup? | A Guide to Well Visits and Annual Physicals

I get it. There’s a pandemic going on. And even if there wasn’t – between work, school, homework, caring for grandparents – there’s a lot on everyone’s plates these days. However, I strongly encourage you to try to get your children to their pediatrician in accordance with the routine well visit schedule.

Most pediatricians follow the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended schedule:

  • 1st year: newborn, 2-4 weeks, two months, four months, six months, nine months
  • 2nd year: 12 months, 15 months, 18 months
  • 3rd year: 24 months, 30 months (2-1/2 years)
  • Then every 12 months starting at their third birthday

While we often call this a “well visit” or “annual physical,” we should really think of this as a preventive care visit. Yes, we will catch up on any shots that are needed, but these visits are so much more. This is a chance for your doctor to look for problems in their early stages. We often catch things that parents haven’t noticed yet because they aren’t a big problem yet. This is when you want to catch problems, right?

We can identify anything ranging from growth problems (which can be due to hormone disorders) to mental health issues – and everything in between – during a routine visit. Even if your child does not need a physical for school, I encourage you to see your pediatrician on time for your preventive care visit.

And a few final thoughts on well visits:

Whenever possible, see your pediatrician (or someone in the same office with access to all of your child’s records) for the well visit. A physical at a pharmacy or urgent care clinic will not be as thorough because they won’t have your child’s growth records or other history to compare.

Consider taking only 1 or 2 children at a time if you have a big family and your schedule allows. If your kids are like mine, there’s no guarantee that they won’t either all want to talk or all want to play, making it harder for parents to have a good conversation with the doctor.

Get your flu shots! Every year, but especially this year. Flu and COVID can look a lot alike. Decreasing your child’s risk of getting the flu decreases the likelihood that they’ll be excluded from school while awaiting COVID test results.