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Child Health, News | 18 days ago

Summer Wellness: Prioritizing Well-Child Visits for Your Child’s Future

As summer approaches, it's the perfect time to prioritize your child's health and well-being by scheduling their well-child visits. Atrium Health Levine Children's emphasizes the importance of these check-ups to ensure your child is healthy, developing properly, and up-to-date on vaccinations before the school year begins.

For many families, summer is a whirlwind of poolside picnics, summer camp coordination, and beach day adventures. Before we know it, the days have turned into months and it’s suddenly time to return to the classroom. (Panic mode: activated.)

Rather than waiting until the last minute to book your child’s well visit, you can beat the back-to-school rush and have an easier time finding an appointment without having to work around your child’s school schedule.

Although scheduling well-child visits may not be at the top of your list of summer activities, Atrium Health Levine Children’s believes preventive care in children, particularly in the form of well-child visits, ensures that they are ready to face the challenges of the new academic year, whether it’s their first day of kindergarten or their final year of high school.

But before you book, here’s a look at what to expect at these visits and how they can help your child start the school year strong.

Why are well-child visits important?

Wellness care for your child is just as important as getting them care when they’re sick. Well-child visits are an opportunity to monitor your child’s growth and development, prevent illnesses, and address any health concerns.

These visits include physical exams, developmental screenings, and discussions on various topics relevant to your child's age and development stage. Here’s a glimpse into what happens during these visits:

Key aspects of well-child visits:

  • Growth and development: Regular monitoring ensures your child is growing appropriately and meeting developmental milestones.
  • Health guidance: These visits provide an opportunity to discuss nutrition, physical activity, sleep patterns, and other important health topics.
  • Early detection: Regular check-ins with your child’s pediatrician can help identify health issues early, making them easier to manage and treat.
  • Vaccinations: Keeping vaccinations up-to-date protects your child and others from preventable diseases.

Age-specific focus:

From newborns to teenagers, well-child visits are tailored to the specific needs of each age group:

  • Infants (0-12 months): Discussions include breastfeeding, sleep safety, introduction to solid foods, and early developmental milestones.
  • Toddlers (1-3 years): Focus on speech, toilet training, safety, and behavior.
  • Preschool (4-5 years): Preparing for school, healthy habits, and social interactions.
  • School-age (6-12 years): Emphasis on academic performance, physical activity, and emotional well-being.
  • Adolescents (13-18 years): Guidance on puberty, mental health, technology use, and transitioning to adult care.

To learn more about what to expect for each age group, explore the Well-Child Visit Schedule.

Protecting your child’s future

Vaccinations are a key component of well-child visits. They protect against serious diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis, and meningitis. The schedule ensures timely protection, with specific vaccines recommended at various ages:

  • Infants: Vaccines for hepatitis B, DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis), polio, and more.
  • Toddlers and preschoolers: Additional doses of DTaP, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), and varicella (chickenpox).
  • Preteens and teens: HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine to prevent certain cancers, meningococcal vaccine, and Tdap booster.

In addition to keeping your child on a vaccination schedule, these regular visits also give pediatricians an opportunity to look at the whole child from both a physical and mental health perspective.

Some of the screenings conducted in early childhood well-visits include seeing how a family is doing as a whole and if there are things going on that your pediatrician may be able to help with. Providers can also use well-child visits as a time to check for maternal depression with young infants, because mom’s health is incredibly important to the child’s health. 

As children grow, well-child visits will screen for developmental issues including autism as well as how older children are adjusting at school, from their ability to pay attention to learning to read. Pediatricians will look at the risk behaviors of older children and teenagers, screening for things like drug and alcohol use, sexual activity and depression and anxiety. 

These screenings and check-ins are not necessarily something providers have an opportunity to talk about during a child’s sick visit. But having the time to explore these topics can lead to important conversations that could ultimately help your child reach their full potential.

Levine Children’s offers comprehensive, expert care for children from infancy through adolescence. By scheduling your child’s well-visit now, you are giving them the best start to the new school year before they even think about what to pack for lunch.

Looking for a great doctor to schedule a well-child visit? Find an Atrium Health Levine Children’s pediatrician near you