Preventative health care aims to keep kids healthy by monitoring their growth and development and prevent diseases. This type of health care works to diagnose health conditions in the early stages so they may be addressed before becoming severe. Preventative health care may help kids stay healthier into adulthood and establish a good pattern of self care.
Well Child Visits
Well child visits are check-ups scheduled at regular intervals to assess a child’s development. The child’s overall health is assessed, and her development is compared to the average to ensure proper development. These well child check-ups give parents and doctors the opportunity to discuss safety issues, concerns and general health concepts. Regular check-ups allow the doctor to catch health issues the parent may not notice.
Doctors may have a slightly different schedule for regular preventative health screenings, but most follow a similar schedule. Infants and toddlers visit the doctor for preventative health care more frequently, because development in the early years is crucial. An infant will typically be seen at 2 weeks, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months and 12 months. Toddlers typically visit the doctor at 15 months, 18 months and 24 months. After a child reaches 2 years of age, most doctors will want a yearly appointment to continue assessing growth and development.
The components of a preventative health appointment may vary slightly by doctor, but most have the same basic outline. Height and weight are checked throughout infancy and childhood. A child’s head circumference is typically measured until 18 months. The doctor will watch for major changes in the child’s percentile in height and weight. A physical examination, including assessment of motor skills, will be completed. Vision and hearing may be assessed. Parents are typically asked behavioral questions about the child. Further screenings, such as a blood test to assess lead levels, may be completed at some appointments.
Immunizations are another important part of preventative health care for kids. These immunizations protect children from very serious illnesses. Many of the vaccinations are given several times throughout infancy and childhood to reach maximum protection. Typical vaccinations for kids include DTP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis), Hib, hepatitis B, polio, MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), rotavirus, pneumococcal vaccine, chickenpox and influenza.
Dental hygiene should begin as soon as a child has teeth. Regular dental check-ups will ensure a child’s teeth are clean and free of cavities. Pediatric dentists will often see children around 18 months of age to start them on a good dental routine. Children should visit the dentist for a cleaning and check-up every six months. Cleaning teeth is very important, even for babies. An infant’s teeth should be wiped gently with a wet washcloth. A toddler toothbrush and training toothpaste that doesn’t contain fluoride should be used until a child is old enough to avoid swallowing the toothpaste.