It’s that time of year again! The start of the 2021-2022 school year is just a few weeks away, and we’re all busy trying to get some family fun in before the summer ends. All the while, we’re also still in the midst of the coronavirus-19 pandemic. Your child’s school may require that their routine immunizations are up to date before the first day of school. According to a study published in July 2021 in Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) official journal, routine childhood vaccinations declined significantly in all children but more dramatically in those under 24 months of age during the stay-at-home period of the coronavirus-19 pandemic. They also found that immunizations in children stayed reduced after re-opening during the pandemic. As a result, many children are not up to date with their vaccinations, as recommended by the CDC, and therefore are at an increased risk for vaccine-preventable diseases. These children might be traveling this summer and might return to in-person school in a few weeks, where they could encounter these diseases.
It is well documented that many children have missed well-child visits during most of the coronavirus-19 pandemic due to multiple factors. Fear of becoming ill while at the doctor’s office, closure of their pediatrician’s office, and decreased access to their doctor are a few reasons for the lack of appropriate medical care during the pandemic. If you haven’t made your appointment to see your child’s pediatrician, now is the time to do so if they are missing vaccinations, if you have concerns about your child, or if it has been at least one year since their last appointment. Children under the age of 2 have more frequent visits due to their rapid growth and development. Check with your pediatrician’s office to see if your child is due for an evaluation.
Below are my top 10 tips to help your next child’s well visit go smoothly.
Set up the appointment as soon as possible. Pediatricians are trying to play catch up with all the overdue well-visits.
Make a list of concerns that you have worried about. Your pediatrician may only have time to address a couple of those concerns during the first visit. If you have a long list, make multiple appointments to discuss 1-2 concerns per visit.
If your pediatrician isn’t available, you may need to see another pediatrician. If this is the case, prepare your child ahead of time if they are old enough to understand. Seeing a new doctor could be unsettling for a child.
Be 15-20 minutes early. You will need to complete questionnaires before seeing your pediatrician. Well-exam visits are meant to be comprehensive and cover a lot of information about your child. These visits typically are not used to address an illness. A good well-exam visit addresses social, emotional, and physical development, school performance, review of social, medical, family histories, routine immunizations, and screening tests.
Bring in your child’s vaccination record, insurance card, and any medications your child is taking. Feel free to bring the actual bottle(s).
Bring your child’s school or sports or camp forms, if needed. Also, remember to bring in any forms for medications used at school, such as breathing treatments.
Please speak to your child about what they might experience at the doctor’s office. Try to give her an idea of how the experience might ease any anxiety about the visit. Here are some suggestions.
“Elena, we are going to check-in at the doctor’s office, and you should keep your mask on until your doctor is ready to see your smile.”
“A medical assistant will check your temperature, blood pressure, see how tall you are, and how much you’ve grown. Then, you’ll meet your doctor, who will first speak with us about how you’re doing and what you are doing to stay healthy.”
“Your doctor wants you to grow well and needs to check your body.” She will start by looking at you, and then your doctor will ask permission to check your eyes, ears, nose, neck, chest, belly, back, arms, legs. She will ask you to jump up and down. She may need to check your private parts, too. Don’t worry; I will be there with you.”
“At the end of the visit, your doctor will let you know how you can continue staying healthy.”
Ask your pediatrician to review your child’s growth on the CDC or WHO growth charts. We may pick up on poor growth or growth that is too rapid and needs further evaluation. I personally love looking at my children’s charts at our visits.
Make the following appointments before leaving the office: The next well-child exam, any follow-up appointments to address concerns you or your pediatrician may have.
Reward your child! Take her out for ice cream or have a picnic at your local park. Let her know you are proud of her for cooperating at the visit.
Hopefully, these tips are helpful to you. Would you please leave a comment if this was helpful? Share with your friends and family who may benefit from this article. Enjoy the rest of the summer! Remember to be kind, wash your hands frequently, wear a mask per your local health department guidelines, get your COVID-19 vaccination if you’re able to, and call your pediatrician with any concerns.
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Thank you for explaining that you should try to be fifteen to twenty minutes early to have time to fill out the questionnaires. My daughter has been wondering what kind of etiquette to follow when she takes her newborn to the doctor. I’ll be sure to mention this to her so that she can plan accordingly.
You’re welcome. Congratulations to your family on the birth of the baby. Happy New Year!
Being early will allow us pediatricians to spend more time in the exam room with the parents and our little patients. Congratulations on the new baby! – Dr. Munoz
I like when you mentioned to make a list of the things that have been bothering you. I want to send my son to a pediatric therapist since he is having some behavioral problems recently. Thanks for the tips on visiting a pediatrician and I hope that I can find a good therapist for my son soon!
I’m a huge fan of therapists. We parents – and pediatricians- do not always have the right answers. I hope you were able to find a good therapist for your son. – Dr. Munoz
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I love how you suggest making a list of concerns before talking to a pediatrician. My sister just moved and is looking for a new pediatrician for her kids. Writing a list of things to ask will be a great help in finding a doctor that is right for her and her kids.
This one is important. We pediatricians want to make sure we address parental concerns and there is so much to do during check-ups that if parents don’t bring up concerns in the beginning, we may not have time to address these concerns at all. Best of luck to your sister. She’s lucky that she has you to help with finding a new pediatrician!- Dr. Munoz
Thanks for the tip about being 15 to 20 minutes early for your appointment. My daughter is having trouble switching to solid foods. I’m hoping to take her to a pediatrician sometime this week to see what’s going on.
You’re welcome! Generally, as long as babies are growing well and they are not showing difficulty with swallowing or showing choking with solids, we do not rush the transition to solid foods. Thanks for your comment! Wishing your little one all the best!
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My son has been running a fever for 3 days now, and since it doesn’t seem to be going down anytime soon for it to be the usual flu, I plan to take him to a pediatrician for a proper checkup later. I appreciate the advice where you said it’s best to make a list of concerns beforehand, so you can quickly go through your son’s condition and be able to discuss the issues properly. I’ll be sure to choose a pediatrician who works nearby, so we can reach the clinic sooner.
I am not sure this can be possible “Reward your child! Take her out for ice cream” The pediatrician need to help me here! Anyway thanks for the informative content.
Hey there! I appreciate it when you asked us to book a follow-up appointment right before we leave a clinic so our child’s wellbeing can be examined more consistently. My cousin’s daughter is down with fever since last night and she may need immediate medical attention. I’ll let him know about this so he can bring her to meet the right pediatrician.
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