Your child will go through significant changes throughout their childhood. Physical exams are a regular part of your child’s healthcare and an important part of staying on top of their growth and development.
Routine well-child visits help to ensure that your child is healthy and growing and developing as they should, and for the prevention, early detection, and management of any significant health issues. These physical exams are carried out by pediatricians who have the knowledge and expertise to provide comprehensive medical care and advice for infants, children, adolescents and young adults. They are typically recommended on a yearly basis but depending on your child’s needs, they may be required more frequently. A checkup is recommended even when your child isn’t sick or experiencing any symptoms.
What Happens at a Well-Child Visit?
During a well-child visit, the pediatrician will carry out a number of checks to track their growth and development and to ensure your child is healthy and functioning optimally. The exam helps to assess and monitor your child’s health and development and to identify any health issues in the earliest stages when treatment is typically most effective.
They will perform a head-to-toe physical exam to evaluate important aspects of your child’s growth and development, such as recording their height, weight, blood pressure, and other important information, and checking if your child is up-to-date with their immunizations. Depending on your child’s age and their health and family medical histories, your child may also be screened for certain health conditions, such as diabetes or anemia.
As well as helping in the prevention and early detection of any significant health issues, a well-child visit is an ideal opportunity to ask any questions or raise any concerns about your child’s health, development, or wellbeing and to share any successes or milestones they have reached since their last visit.
How To Prepare for a Physical Exam
Pediatricians are skilled at working with children of all ages and will help your child feel at ease during their visit. Although it isn’t always easy to prepare a child for their physical exam, particularly if they are very young, there are things you can try to help ensure your child understands what they can expect at their visit.
Arrange a Meet and Greet
If you are seeing a new provider who your child is unfamiliar with, it can help to set up a visit for you and your child to meet the pediatrician and their team. In most cases, your child will be taken on a mini-tour to allow them to get more familiar with the office and to meet members of their healthcare team. Here, they can also learn about what to expect when they come in for their physical exam.
Explain the Purpose of a Physical Exam
Prepare your child by giving them advance notice of their visit, so it doesn’t come as a big surprise. Try to explain why they need a physical exam and about their doctor’s role in a positive and non-scary way. Such as “the doctor will see how much you’ve grown and will make sure you are healthy and strong. You can ask them questions about your body and on to stay healthy.” Explain that all children have these appointments to keep them healthy and that you will stay with them during their visit with the doctor.
Offer an Age-Appropriate Explanation of What to Expect
It is important to let your child know what they can expect at their routine physical exam. This can help reduce anxiety and allow your child to feel more in control of the situation.
During a physical exam, the pediatrician will inspect, touch, tap, and check various body parts, so explaining this to your child can help better prepare them. It will depend on your child’s age and their level of understanding, but there are things you can do to help them understand what to expect at their appointment.
For young children, role play activities can be beneficial. Such as performing pretend examinations on each other or on their cuddly toys. This could include things like measuring height and head circumference, weighing yourself on your home weighing scale, looking in each other’s mouth, tapping or pressing each other’s abdomen, and bending over to touch the toes. If your child has a pretend doctors kit, you could practice using the stethoscope on each other to listen to the heart and lungs, or show them how a blood pressure cuff will ‘hug their arm.’
There are also a range of books available that explain what to expect in a physical exam in a fun, child-friendly way that you may want to read together.
Choose a Provider You Can Trust
Feeling comfortable and at ease with your pediatrician and knowing that your child is in safe hands is very important. You want a knowledgeable, competent provider who understands your child’s needs and communicates easily with you and your child. This helps to establish a good relationship and ensures your child gets the compassionate, comprehensive care they deserve.
When Should I Schedule a Well-Child Visit?
Routine checkups with your pediatrician are an essential part of preventative health care to stay on top of your child’s physical and emotional health care needs and to identify any concerns early on. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends well-child visits at the following stages:
- 3-5 days of birth and 2 weeks after birth
- 1 month
- 2 months
- Four months
- Six months
- Nine months
- 12 months
- 18 months
- Two years
- Two and a half years
- Three years
After the age of three, children should have routine yearly wellness checks until they reach the age of 21. However, you should contact your pediatrician between scheduled visits if you have any concerns about your child’s health.
Children’s Physical Exams Near Me in Purchase, NY
If your child is due for their routine physical exam and you are looking for expert care, contact Westchester Park Pediatrics. Preventative care is our priority to keep your child from getting sick in the first place.
Our experienced and compassionate providers offer routine physicals for children from birth to 21 years, as well as a comprehensive range of healthcare services to ensure all of your child’s needs are met, including sick visits, newborn and well-child visits, sports and school physicals, and a range of other services, such as advice on establishing a healthy lifestyle, ear wax removal, and ear piercing.