WHY DOES MY CHILD NEED REGULAR PEDIATRIC CHECK-UPS?
You just had a baby, and might be feeling a bit overwhelmed with everything required to take proper care of your newborn. But, luckily, your doctor has given you a schedule so you know when to bring your baby to the doctor for regular pediatric visits. This is just the beginning of all the wellness checkups your child should receive up until the age of 21, when they are finally considered to be fully physically mature.
A newborn baby needs to undergo a thorough health examination at the hospital, before going home. During that initial physical exam, things such as weight, length, and head circumference of your baby are plotted on growth charts, and body functions are checked. After that, babies must visit their doctor between 3-5 days, then at 1 month, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months, and 12 months. This is a fairly standard schedule. Things such as how well your baby is thriving, immunizations, and general physical growth and mental development will be observed and tracked by the pediatrician. These assessments are important to make sure your child is on track with their health. There are also a few more check-ups at 15 months, 18 months, 24 months, and 30 months.
Throughout the first 3 years of your child’s life, your pediatrician will make sure your child is maintaining good physical health, and progressing according to standards for their age. Frequent checkups during the first 3 years can ensure that the doctor will be able to note any health issues, diagnosing them early enough that the problem does not progress for long without being addressed and treated. This is true for physical and mental development.
After the age of 3 until the age of 21, children should see their pediatrician for annual checkups.
Up until the age of 5 or 6, your child will be receiving immunizations. This will occur again, around the age of 12.
Often, especially when the child is between the age of 6-12, parents do not see the need to take their seemingly healthy child to the doctor for annual physical exams or checkups, but this an invalid assumption. Things may be going on with your child’s health, internally, that are not apparent, even to the child’s parent.
During this time, and until the child reaches 21 years of age, your doctor will make certain things are going well with your child’s health by checking certain indicators during the annual physical exam. These are some of the common things noted and checked during these exams:
- Blood Pressure
- Blood Count
- Urine Screening
- Cholesterol Screening
- Dental Screening
- Vision Screening
- Hearing Screening
- Speech Development
- Lead Screening
- Scoliosis check
- Signs of Puberty Onset
Over the course of their childhood, it is important that your child learns to trust their pediatrician. That way, the child will feel comfortable enough to discuss how they are feeling, as well as any problems they may be experiencing.
Your pediatrician will always be tracking your child’s growth progress, checking to see if any health issues are beginning to develop, and maintaining immunizations and boosters. They will also discuss the importance of good health and living a healthy lifestyle. This could include discussions about:
- Healthy Diet & Nutrition
- Safety (especially if the child is athletic or participating in sports)
- Sex & Birth Control
- Substance Abuse
Your pediatrician is your partner in assuring that your child maintains good health and healthy habits that will lead them into adulthood. Having a healthy start in life can often be a predictor of good health across a lifetime. And, who doesn’t want that for their child?
Child-centered and family-focused, Children’s Health Care of Massachusetts is your family’s partner in health, providing compassionate and personalized care for the whole child.
Children’s Health Care of Massachusetts (CHC Mass) was the nation’s first community health center to open its doors in Boston, providing health services for low and moderate-income people in the inner city areas, and isolated rural communities. Contact them for more information about how you can partner with CHC to help your child achieve the healthiest childhood, possible.