Well-Child Checks Help Keep Kids Healthy Throughout Their Lives

**By David J. Schneider, MD**

Mercer Island resident Susan George is Mom to a 6-year-old stepson. But when she and her husband became parents to newborn son Kaden, Susan admits she found it a learning experience. After being referred by a friend to Virginia Mason Medical Center, the Georges chose me to be their son’s pediatrician.

Susan George and family

From left to right: Susan, Carter, Kaden and Jake George.

Like most initial clinic visits with a pediatrician, Kaden’s first appointment was scheduled as a well-child check. These exams – which are recommended every couple of weeks for infants, every few months for toddlers, and annually for young children and teens – follow guidelines developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that focus on recommended screenings and assessments based on age.

“Since I didn’t know what to expect, I’ve been very happy with how easy and helpful each of Kaden’s well-child checks have been. Not only do Dr. Schneider and the team provide excellent care, they’ve been great at putting me at ease,” said Susan. “I also really appreciate that at each well-child check, Dr. Schneider points out next steps so we know what to expect.”

Benefits of well-child checks

Although the AAP’s detailed well-child check guidelines vary depending on a child’s age, all care protocols include:

  • Prevention – Children get scheduled immunizations to prevent illness. Parents can also ask the pediatrician about nutrition, as well as safety in the home and at school.
  • Tracking of growth and development – The exams allow parents to see how much their child has grown since the last visit and provide an opportunity to talk with the pediatrician about a child’s development. Parents can also discuss their child’s milestones, social behaviors and learning.
  • Time to ask questions or raise concerns – The visits allow parents to make a list of topics they want to cover – such as development, behavior, sleep, diet or getting along with other family members.
  • A team approach – Regular visits create strong, trusting relationships between the pediatrician, parent and child. The AAP recommends well-child visits as a way for pediatricians and parents to serve the needs of children. This team approach helps develop optimal physical, mental and social health of a child.

“Having grown up with the same physician caring for me throughout my childhood and  teen years, I really appreciate the reassuring presence and guidance that pediatricians can provide,” said Susan.

Dr David Schneider_2019David J. Schneider, MD, is a board-certified pediatrician who practices at Virginia Mason Bellevue Medical Center and Virginia Mason Issaquah Medical Center. Areas of special interest include: sports and dance-related injuries, chronic medical conditions, childhood/adolescent obesity and nutrition, mental health concerns and LGBTQ health.  

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