3 reasons not to miss a well child check
Part of The Doc Smitty's Masters in Parenting series
What is the point of a checkup?
If you ask a dozen doctors, you might get two dozen answers.
Even then, there might not be a single one of them that lines up with what you want from a checkup.
Here are some goals that we can all agree are important:
Answer questions about your child. The most fulfilling checkups for me are those where a parent brings a list of questions (on paper, napkin or iPhone).
Monitor your child’s growth. Following along those graphs and height and weight percentiles are not only used as a way to compare your child to your friends on Facebook; they provide great insight into your child’s overall health.
Discuss your child’s development. Discussing your child’s new skills helps me intervene when things are not progressing as we would like.
Here are three reasons that are important to me (that might not be as important to you):
- Talking through 2 or 3 issues per check-up that I think are too important to not miss. Some examples are back-to-sleep for newborns and diet and nutrition for older children.
- Completing a full physical exam. This helps me determine if there are any subtle health problems that might not have been noticeable to the family. Some common problems identified at check-ups are eye problems, hernias and heart murmurs.
- Vaccinations. Vaccinations. Vaccinations. There are very few things that I do as a general pediatrician that protect lives. Vaccinations do.
Even when you think everything is going well, it is important to show up yearly for your checkups. You never know when that routine visit could turn into something very important.
Justin Smith, M.D., is a Cook Children's pediatrician in Lewisville . He attended University of Texas, Southwestern Medical School and did his pediatric training at Baylor College of Medicine. He joins Cook Children's after practicing in his hometown of Abilene for four years. He has a particular interest in development, behavior and care for children struggling with obesity. In his spare time, he enjoys playing with his 3 young children, exercising, reading and writing about parenting and pediatric health issues.