parents and child with their pediatrician

PREVENT

Ask a family doctor: Your stage-by-stage guide to well-child visits

There’s never a good time for you or your kids to get sick. But you can prevent getting sick in the first place. A healthy family can help you avoid routine disruptions, fulfill daily responsibilities and enjoy limited free time.

While you already have a lot on your plate, well-child visits are critical to keeping your kids, family and the community healthy. Keep reading to explore common questions to ask a pediatrician about your newborn, toddler, grade-schooler, pre-teen or teenager during well-child visits.

Preparing for a well-child visit

Regular well-child visits can keep your kid and family healthy and prevent serious illness. It’s normal to have questions as they quickly grow from birth to adulthood. Make sure you have plenty of time before and after their checkup to avoid any stress. Write down questions or concerns as soon as they come to mind before your kid’s well-child visit to ensure they get the proper care.

Prepare for common questions covering your kid’s mental and physical health. Verify your insurance coverage and get a price estimate if needed before scheduling a well-child visit. Your pediatrician will ask age-specific questions and provide the next steps to ensure your kid has the best possible care options for their unique health needs.

Schedule an appointment with a pediatrician today to keep your kids' health on track.

Questions to ask about your newborn

You’ll learn a lot about your kid’s health during their first months and years of childhood. During an infant well-check, your pediatrician will focus on your baby’s growth, development, vaccinations and look for health problems through a head-to-toe physical exam.

  • How can I keep my baby calm and comfortable during vaccinations? Vaccinations can be scary for anyone. Keeping your baby comfortable and calm is a team effort and pediatricians routinely administer vaccinations.
  • Is my newborn eating enough? Your child’s doctor can provide breastfeeding and formula diet guidance to meet your baby’s nutrition needs and how often to feed them.

Questions to ask for your toddler

Their first words and steps are exciting milestones, but raising a toddler can also be full of surprises. You can keep your kid’s health on track by understanding their health care needs, scheduling regular pediatrician visits and asking questions.

  • How and when should I start potty training? The answer depends on your toddler’s physical and behavioral development. Potty training isn’t easy, so don’t worry if your child takes a little longer to ditch the diapers. As frustrating as accidents can be, respond with humility, compassion and support. Ask your provider for guidance if accidents become more frequent.
  • What developmental milestones should my toddler reach by this visit? Many toddlers start to talk, walk, run, climb and play with others at this age. A pediatrician may recommend physical and cognitive development screenings during each stage of life.
  • Is my toddler caught up on their vaccines? At ages one to three, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strongly recommends protecting your kid from polio, chickenpox (varicella), measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) and other vaccinations protecting against diseases
  • How much sleep should my toddler get every night? A lack of sleep can make your little one moody and throw off their routine. Establish a consistent bedtime schedule to prevent meltdowns and keep them sharp to keep their development milestones on track.
  • I’m worried my child is experiencing mental health challenges. What are some common warning signs? Mental illness is harder to detect in children because they often have different symptoms. Your pediatrician can share common symptoms, coping strategies and refer you to a family mental health professional as a part of their treatment plan.

Questions to ask for your school-age child

Well-child exams become essential when your kids head to school and make new friends. Interaction benefits social health, but classrooms can also be a breeding ground for the cold, influenza (flu) and other airborne illnesses. That’s why well-child visits should be a top priority in your back-to-school plan.

  • How much screen time should they have per day? Kids ages eight to 10 average six hours of screen time per day. Too much screen time can bring on childhood obesity, behavioral issues, lost social skills and sleep challenges. Screen time includes educational use and it’s a good idea to limit recreational screen time when possible.
  • How can I emotionally prepare my kids for their first day of school? The back-to-school can trigger a range of emotions before their first day. Their provider can recommend coping strategies or refer them to a child psychologist if needed.
  • What developmental milestones should my kid reach by this well-child visit? Your kid is now interacting with others and learning new skills at school. Monitor, track and share any specific developmental concerns with their pediatrician.
  • Are my school-aged kid’s vaccinations up-to-date? Minnesota and Wisconsin state laws require certain vaccinations for children to enter childhood programs or schools.

Questions to ask for your pre-teen

Pre-teenagers experience many exciting physical and emotional changes as they evolve into a teenager. As a parent, there’s only so much you can do to prepare for the unexpected. What you can control is getting the best possible care for them to and through puberty.

  • How can I help my kid maintain proper personal hygiene habits? For example, their daily list could remind them to bathe, brush their teeth, apply deodorant, wear clean clothes and take it easy on the body spray. Their daily hygiene habits are a step closer to independence and can prevent future health problems.
  • How much screen time should I allow my pre-teenager? Screens are everywhere, and finding the appropriate limit for your teenager can be tricky. Kids ages 11 to 14 get an average of nine hours of screen time per day. Many kids have adapted to online learning—and more screen time—during the COVID-19 pandemic. Educational screen time is here to stay in some shape or form. Slim down their recreational screen time to about two hours per day.
  • Learn how screen time can bring on post-screen-time anger and frustration in kids.

  • Are my pre-teen’s vaccinations up-to-date? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone 12 years of age and older to vaccinate against COVID-19.

Schedule their COVID-19 vaccine today to help slow the spread of the virus.  

11 and 12-year-olds should also get vaccinations protecting them from meningococcal disease (a rare but severe bacterial infection), human papillomavirus (HPV), flu (yearly), tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough.

Concerned your child spends too much time in front of screens? Explore five tips to decrease screen time for kids.

Questions to ask for your teenager

By now, you know a lot about your teenager’s body. A well-teen visit can help promote healthy behaviors, empower your teen to make health care decisions, reduce the risk for illness and increase their lifespan since many lifelong habits form during adolescence.

  • How can I help my teenager eat a healthy diet? Teens also have plenty to juggle between homework, time with friends, sports and other extracurricular activities. During a well-teen visit, a provider can share ways to help your teen get the right nutrition, even if they’re busy.
  • How can I convince my teenager to bathe regularly? Body odor isn’t easy to discuss with your teenager. Your pediatrician can recommend a routine, treatments, hygiene products and medications as needed to fit your teenager’s lifestyle.
  • Sex education for teens: When should you have “The talk”? The best time to educate your teenager about sex is before they become sexually active. Chances are, your teenager won’t be as comfortable talking about sex as with you as they are with their friends.

    A pediatrician can address your teen’s questions about sex, discuss birth control options and offer the HPV vaccine in a supportive and confidential environment.

  • Are my teenager’s immunizations up-to-date? At 13 to 18-years-old, teenagers should get their flu, meningococcal (2nd dose) and serogroup B meningococcal vaccines. A pediatrician can also get your teen caught up on vaccines they may have missed.

 

The sooner you schedule their annual wellness visit or sports physical, the better. Regular well-child care creates strong relationships among doctors, parents and children and improves their overall health. Staying ahead of your kid’s health can help prevent serious illness and keep them healthy, whether they go to summer camp, back to school or play organized sports.

 

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