Regular well-child examinations are essential to keeping kids
healthy and up-to-date on
against many dangerous childhood diseases.
A checkup also is an opportunity for your doctor to talk to
you about developmental and safety issues and for you ask
questions you might have about your child's overall health.
What Happens at the Doctor's Office?
At yearly exams, the doctor will weigh and measure your child to
make sure he or she is progressing along a normal pattern of
. The doctor will take a medical and family history and perform a
complete physical examination.
During the visit, your child will be screened for high blood
pressure and you'll be asked about your child's history of
lead exposure and your family's history of cardiovascular
disease and hyperlipidemia (an excess of fat and cholesterol and/or
other fats in the blood).
The doctor will check your child's immunization record to
see if any vaccinations are needed. Booster doses of DTaP, IPV, and
) are usually given between your child's fourth birthday and
school entry. A tuberculin skin test (PPD) may be done to check for
The doctor will check for crossed eyes and any
problems, and also check the
for tooth decay, abnormal tooth development, malocclusion (abnormal
bite), dental injuries, or other problems. In addition to the
doctor's dental evaluation, your child should be making regular
visits to the dentist.
During this exam, the doctor will also check behavioral and
social development, asking questions to see if your child's
everyday behavior is age appropriate, how well your
child operates in social situations, and how well he or she
can communicate and understand directions.
Developmental milestones for 4-year-olds include being able
- help with household tasks
- play cooperatively with other kids
- understand the concept of gender
- identify colors
Developmental milestones for 5-year-olds include being able
- dress independently and tie shoes
- recall address and phone number
- draw a body
- print first name
Your child's doctor will also check physical milestones: Can
your 4-year-old hop or jump on one foot? Has your 5-year-old
Child safety is another topic of concern. Your doctor will cover
the importance of using age-appropriate
, closely supervising kids around
, not smoking around kids, using
, and protecting children against exposed wires, outlets, and heat
sources. In homes with firearms, guns and ammunition should be
stored separately and kept locked at all times.
What Should I Do if I Suspect a Medical Problem?
Parents often can tell by their child's appearance if they
are ill, but certain symptoms warrant a call to your doctor. Though
they may represent a minor illness such as a cold or
, some symptoms can also signal a more serious infection or a
chronic condition, such as
- changes in weight or eating habits
- changes in behavior or sleep patterns
- failure to grow in height as expected
- temperature over 102Âº Fahrenheit (38.9Âº Celsius) that
persists or recurs
- inability to hold down liquids
- signs of a skin infection or persistent rash
- frequent sore throats
, wheezing, or other breathing difficulties
- localized pain, such as an ear infection
Typical Medical Problems
Problems often found in this age group include
, such as nightmares. Kids might also experience
in their calves at night.
Your doctor's office can answer questions about these
and other common concerns and can be a helpful resource and
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.
© 1995-2009 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.