Wellness check-ups help your child thrive

Children grow and change so fast!

That’s why primary care providers, or PCPs, want to see all their young patients regularly, even when they’re not sick. These are special appointments, called “well-child visits.”

How about asking your children’s PCP when they are due for their next well-child visit? Summer can be a good time to fit this into schedules that become extra-busy during the school year.

There is no cost for well-child visits.

Is your child due for a well-child visit?

The timing of well-child visits depends on age.

Children grow and develop the fastest as babies. So your pediatrician or other family provider will want to see your baby very often between birth and 2-1/2 years old.

At these visits, providers check if babies are growing and developing as expected. This helps doctors either prevent problems or find them early. Studies show that giving children the extra help they need when they are very young can make a big difference for their future.

Children and teens 3 to 19 years old typically see their primary care provider for one well-child visit each year.

Adolescent well-child visits

When your children are 10 to 19 years old, they need an annual exam, just like you. Make sure they have a primary care provider they’re comfortable with.

What happens at well-child visits?

Well-child office visits are different from appointments when your child is sick. Doctors and nurses look at the big picture of your child’s growth and well-being. They do preventive care, which is care that promotes health and tries to prevent illness and injury.

Depending on your child’s age, the providers may:

  • Measure height, weight and head size
  • Do a complete physical exam
  • Check for normal developmental milestones.
  • Let you know what to expect from your child at this stage in terms of growth, behavior and emotions
  • Do vision, hearing and blood pressure screenings
  • Explain health topics that are important for your child’s age
  • Discuss diet, sleep and safety
  • Ask if you have health questions or concerns
  • Give needed vaccinations.

Get those shots!

Vaccinations are extremely important to protect babies, children and teens from serious diseases.

You may have heard news reports about outbreaks of measles and pertussis, or whooping cough. These infectious diseases can be very serious. A child who has not been vaccinated is at risk of dying and passing those diseases on to others.

Your children will receive the recommended shots free of charge.

Screenings for your child’s development

Developmental screening is a quick way to find out how well your child is learning, growing and developing.

Workers with special training conduct the developmental screenings. They may be done in a doctor’s office, through an early intervention program, by a public health worker or at an early education program like Head Start.

Some milestone checklist are available online, like this one from the CDC.

If there is a delay in development or another problem, it’s best to find it as early as possible. Then you and your child’s primary care provider can work together to help your child. Regular well-child visits are a great path to helping your children succeed.

Other resources

Well Child Care: A Check-up for Success.

Developmental Screening for Children, Birth to Five Year of Age. CareOregon.

Developmental Monitoring and Screening. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

Pertussis (Whooping Cough). Oregon Health Authority

What is Pertussis? Oregon Health Authority

Children’s Oral Health. CDC

Mouth Healthy. American Dental Association.