During the first couple of years of a child’s life, they see a doctor more times than you can probably keep count of. While less frequent, preschool age well-child exams can be just as vital to a child’s overall health.
Once children get to age 3-5, provided they are overall healthy and up to date with vaccinations, they may not have an overt need to see the doctor for these years. Nevertheless, this period is not a time to get complacent and skip doctor check-ups.
There are many important physical and mental milestones children reach during this time, and it can help you make sure things are going well, and find out if there are any things that you need to change. There are three parts of a well-child check-up to look forward to: the general health check, new tests that start at this age, and vaccination check in.
Overall Health Check
The health check allows the pediatrician to ensure that your son or daughter is at developmentally appropriate levels. As with any physical exam, a nurse will take the child’s weight, height, and blood pressure. The pediatrician will do a more thorough analysis of breathing, their heart beat, reflexes, and other physical ability. When you go to the same doctor for years in a row, the file will grow too. This allows for the pediatrician to be able to see, for instance, if a kid has had a growth spurt that has sent him over the average of his age group, or if his weight has rapidly increased and a diet adjustment is needed.
A well-child exam is also the perfect opportunity to ask the pediatrician any questions you may have. No question is too silly, and your pediatrician can give you valuable answers that reduce your worry.
For most children, this age will be the first time when they receive screenings for hearing and vision. These are very important, as children are about to start trying to read and going to school. Minor deficiencies in hearing and eyesight may not have been noticeable but can arise when children show struggles in reading or listening to directions.
The number of vaccines generally administered during this age are minimal, but be aware that many states and school districts have vaccination expectations before the student enters kindergarten. Some of the vaccinations that your child may be checked for during this age include MMR (for mumps, measles, and rubella), Hep B and A, DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis), and IPV (for polio). The child’s pediatrician will let you know if and when your child needs their next vaccines, and set up those appointments as needed.
Taking your son or daughter to his or her pediatrician consistently for a well-child exam is a necessary and relatively easy step to ensuring a healthy development through their early years. Doctors will be able to give you valuable insight and a fuller picture of growth when they have years of data and knowledge about your child. A pediatrician you trust is the best defense against the potential illness that arises.