Well-Child Checks and What to Expect

Parents, guardians, and child caregivers know keeping track of developmental milestones and health schedules can be a challenge. That is why regular appointments with your child’s pediatrician or primary care provider are important. During well-child checkups, the provider will observe your child’s development and growth. This includes physical growth measurements such as height and weight, but also hearing, vision, and reflex examinations. The providers will also look for new capabilities consistent with the child’s age. For example, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a six-month-old baby should begin to sit without support, make different sounds to express joy or displeasure, and attempt to get things that are out of reach.

Well-child checkups are the perfect time to discuss questions or concerns you may have about your child’s day-to-day actions or habits. “I like to think of it as getting some one-on-one tutoring for how to care for your individual child because every child is unique with their own personal needs and challenges. It’s also a chance to offload some of the stress you can feel as a parent and get reassurance that you are doing the best you can for your family,” said Pediatrician Dwight Parker, MD.

If any major life changes or challenges occur, talk with your child’s pediatrician or primary care provider about healthy coping mechanisms or community resources. While well-child checkups are designed to be timely and consistent, parents should not be deterred from scheduling more frequent appointments. Virtual or phone appointments are available and a viable option for parents with questions that may require a one-on-one conversation but not necessarily a physical examination of
the child.

Your child’s pediatrician or primary care provider will also share the recommended immunization schedules and the benefits of receiving immunizations. Immunizations, or vaccines, are specifically designed to train the immune system to recognize and combat certain conditions by introducing small amounts of weakened or killed germs into the body, triggering an immune response. Vaccines are not only beneficial for the recipient, but for their family, friends, and community.

The CDC Immunization Schedule for infants, toddlers, children, and teens is based on years of conclusive research. Timing recommendations are based on how the immune system will respond at each age and how likely they are to be exposed to diseases. “[Vaccines] are carefully developed to prevent disease and lessen its effects. It makes sense to get them as early as possible so your family can enjoy the best protection from some really serious diseases. The earlier you get vaccinated the more bang for your buck you get so to speak. One image I like to use is seatbelt safety. It makes more sense to put it on before the car is rolling than when you are already out on Seward Highway,” Parker explained.

Beat the rush and schedule your child’s back-to-school physical in advance. The Anchorage School District school year begins Aug. 24 for preschool and kindergarten, and Aug. 17 for all other students.

Addison Arave