Importance of Well-Child Checks
“In their early years, children grow and develop rapidly. In particular, the first three years are critical for setting up the way the brain and the rest of the body function throughout the rest of a person’s life,” says Sandra Granger, MD, UnityPoint Clinics Pediatrics – Sunnybrook. “To maximize your child’s potential, we want to help families optimize nutrition, mental stimulation, and interpersonal experiences. It’s never too late to work on these core aspects of development. After they’re three years old, we encourage visits at least once a year, but younger kids should come in much more frequently so we can discuss growth and development as well as get them all their immunizations.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the following schedule for well-child checks of children younger than three years of age:
- 2 to 5 days after the child’s birth
- 2 to 4 weeks
- 2 months
- 4 months
- 6 months
- 9 months
- 12 months
- 15 months
- 18 months
- 2 years old
- 2 ½ years old
- 3 years old
- Yearly visits are recommended from here on out until children reach 21 years old
Each well-child check includes age-specific screenings and assessments. Pediatricians will take various measurements of your child (height, weight, and head circumference) and track the progress along growth curves. Growth curves are standards of growth created by the World Health Organization based on high-quality studies of thousands of children from around the world.
In addition to tracking growth and development, young children have a time-sensitive vaccination schedule. Timely well-child checks ensure that your child is on track for protection against diseases like chickenpox, measles, polio, and tetanus. While the risk of developing these illnesses nowadays might be low, it is important to continue to have your child vaccinated at an early age, as babies’ and toddlers’ immune systems are particularly vulnerable to these contagious diseases. Additionally, some of the vaccines help prevent more common conditions like ear infections and pneumonia.
“By putting your child’s routine care first, we will be able to ensure all aspects (physical, mental and social) of your child’s development are tracking and address any issues/concerns early on,” says Ashley Knapp, PA-C, UnityPoint Clinics Pediatrics – Sunnybrook. “On top of that, the well-child checks also help providers foster a communicative relationship with the parents about expectations for young children, so we can equip them with a wealth of knowledge about their child’s growth.”
Frequent well-child checks are also especially helpful in guiding first-time parents, who might not be as familiar with the intricacies of early childhood. Your child’s pediatrician is focused on helping you be the best parent you can be, and establishing a relationship with a trusted provider can make all the difference in your child’s physical and mental well-being.
“We want to give parents all the information they need to be knowledgeable about their child’s health,” says Dr. Granger. “That know-how is absolutely crucial for parents of young children so they can provide their children with the support they need as they grow up.”
To establish care with a UnityPoint Clinic Pediatrics – Sunnybrook provider, call (712) 266-2700.