TMH Living Well: New baby? New school year? Think well child visit
As a parent, it’s a good idea to align the start of school with your child’s well child check to save both time and hassle. With one visit you can check three items off your to-do list: an annual exam for your child plus immunizations and sports screenings required for school.
“It’s important for kids to receive a well child check every year. It’s an opportunity to make sure your child is growing and developing normally, consider family risk factors and address any developmental concerns,” said Dr. Kristie Yarmer, board-certified pediatrician with The Memorial Hospital Medical ClinicThe Memorial Hospital Medical Clinic..
Babies and well child checks
Well child checks are frequent during the first two years of life. Babies come for a check up within the first few days, then at one month, two months, four, six and nine months. Once they turn 1 year old, they are seen every six months until age 3, when American Academy of Pediatric recommendations turn to an annual visit.
“At TMH, we like to see your baby at two weeks as well. It’s an ideal time to address any breastfeeding or jaundice problems and make sure your baby is eating well and growing well,” Yarmer said.
Early on, well child exams are especially important to pinpoint developmental delays and resolve them as soon as possible to keep your baby on the right track. For example, if an infant isn’t babbling or cooing in a timely manner or an 18-month-old baby isn’t saying several words, they might have a hearing problem or another concern.
“One of the most common referrals I make is for speech therapy. If a child isn’t hearing appropriately, they can be extremely delayed in their speech milestones,” Yarmer said.
She goes on to explain how vision problems can show up as a delay in fine motor skills, and neurological or muscle problems can show up as a delay in walking. Developmental delays can also affect social development. For example, young children with delays might throw temper tantrums out of frustration of not being able to convey their needs.
The school years
Dr. Yarmer finds that parents are often faithful getting their young kids in for well child checks, but once school starts they sometimes miss the years when vaccinations are not required.
“A lot happens during school years with growth and development. Well child checks are a chance to check in on learning difficulties and safety issues. As kids grow older, we touch on these topics in different ways,” she explained.
Seeing your child every year helps your doctor gain a sense of normalcy for your child, making her more able to catch when something is off. For example, your doctor can compare your child’s height, weight and BMI (body mass index) to years past to make sure they are in line with past numbers and family genetics.
Dr. Yarmer recommends an annual exam through age 18, noting that a lot happens in early and late adolescence.
“Adolescence is when depression or anxiety can set in,” she said. “It’s also a time to talk about making safe choices like wearing a seat belt, avoiding drug and alcohol problems and considering sexual practices. It’s another voice besides that of the parent.”
Dr. Yarmer is now accepting new patients. Well child checks are covered by most insurance plans, including Medicaid. Often times, a co-pay is waived for preventive and wellness services. To schedule an appointment, call 970-826-2480.
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