Regular well-child doctor exams are essential to keeping kids
healthy and up-to-date with
against many dangerous diseases.
A checkup also is a chance for you to talk with the
doctor about developmental and safety issues and to ask any
questions you have about your child's overall health.
What to Expect at the Doctor's Office
At a typical well-child visit, your doctor will weigh and
measure your child to chart progress along a normal pattern of
. The doctor will take a family and medical history and perform a
complete physical examination.
If indicated or if it has not been done previously, your child
may be screened for anemia,
, high cholesterol, or other specific conditions. The doctor will
also ask about your child's
will be examined for tooth decay, abnormal tooth development,
malocclusion (abnormal bite), dental injuries, and other problems.
Although the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends
that all kids visit the dentist no later than age 3, many dentists
and pediatricians feel kids should have a first exam between 2
and 3 years of age - earlier if problems are suspected.
At this age, most kids should have had these recommended
- four doses of DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis)
- three doses of polio (IPV) vaccine
- four doses of Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib)
- one dose of MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine
- three doses of hepatitis B vaccine (Hep B)
- one dose of varicella (chickenpox) vaccine
The doctor will make sure all immunizations are up-to-date and
check developmental progress. He or she will ask a number of
questions to see if your child's everyday behavior is age
appropriate, including how your child communicates with others,
behaves around other kids, and whether he or she can identify
family members or follow simple instructions without gestured cues
(such as "Come here"). The doctor may also check for
specific milestones: Can your child kick a ball? Use two-word
phrases? Imitate adults? Stack seven blocks?
Child safety is another topic doctors discuss at well-child
visits. The doctor will reinforce the importance of using
, closely supervising kids around
around kids, using
, and protecting kids against exposed wires, outlets, and heat
sources. In homes with firearms, guns and ammunition should be
stored separately and kept locked at all times.
When to Call the Doctor
Certain symptoms warrant a call to your doctor, as they may
indicate a possible infection or a chronic medical condition. These
- changes in
or eating habits
- changes in behavior or
- failure to grow in height as expected
- temperature over 102Âº Fahrenheit (38.9Âº Celsius) that lasts
- persistent or frequent
- severe or persistent irritability or tiredness
- signs of a skin infection or a persistent rash
, wheezing, shortness of breath, or other breathing problems
- localized pain, such as that often seen with an
Common Medical Problems
On average, preschoolers in childcare can get up to 12
(upper respiratory infections) a year as well as several bouts of
diarrhea and vomiting. Ear infections are also common. After kids
reach age 3, they usually have fewer episodes of such
and behavior or discipline concerns are very common at this age and
are a frequent source of questions for parents - as well as
frustration. Your doctor can be a great resource, and can
answer your questions or just double-check that your
child's behavior is normal.
Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: October 2008
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice,
diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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