What Are Well Child Exams?
Each year when kids return to school, it’s a good idea to schedule a well child appointment to set them up for success—both mentally and physically—for the new year ahead.
In this post, we’ll explore the importance of these well child exams; what to expect during the visit; what vaccinations are necessary; how you should prepare and where you can schedule your Western Washington Medical Group (WWMG) well child visit.
Why Should You Schedule a Well Child Exam
If your child is healthy and showing no signs of medical issues, you may be tempted to “skip a year” or put the appointment off until a later date, but really it’s best to stay ahead of any issues by having them attend these preventative visits.
An annual check-in gives doctors a routine view of your child’s growth year-over-year so they can see their progress in real-time, record milestones and identify any potential issues in development. This will help them form a treatment plan (if necessary) for any conditions that arise and recognize anything out of-the-ordinary that you and your child may miss.
CDC Guidance on Vaccinations
Even if your child is not old enough to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the regular immunization schedule for other shots should remain current. Aside from specific athletic and extracurricular activity participation requirements, there are also now laws in effect in Washington state that may require your child to get vaccinated.
For a list of vaccines needed for children age 0 – 6, visit this page; for those age 7 – 18, visit this page.
What to Expect at a Well Child Exam
This annual appointment is a standard, comprehensive evaluation of the child’s health based on their medical history and current state of being.
A simple weigh-in and height measurement usually begins the appointment, and then continues with tests for any or all of the following:
- Blood pressure
- Breathing (lungs)
Please note that the staff may need to draw blood for certain laboratory tests and administer shots for vaccinations.
Depending upon the age of the child, there may also be discussions between the doctors, parent(s)/guardian(s) and the patient regarding:
- Nutrition and healthy eating habits
- Physical fitness
- Puberty & sexual health
- Learning development
- Mental health (anxiety/depression)
- Sleep patterns
- Safety issues (i.e. car seats for young children, etc.)
How to Prepare Your Child for a Physical
Prior to the appointment, gather your child’s medical history and your family history to provide the most complete background for the doctor to review. Include any injuries that the child has sustained since their last visit and note any changes in their behaviors or physical health. It’s also a good idea to discuss the types of things the doctor will cover with your child ahead of time and prepare them for anything that could be frightening (such as blood draws).
If your child needs a specific sports exam for athletic purposes, they may also be subject to tests of flexibility, strength, posture and joints.
Consult with a Doctor
For additional information on WWMG’s well child exams, our Family Practice can help. Scheduling well in advance of the start of the school year will ensure you get the best choice of appointment availability. Go to their page to schedule the appointment for an exam. For more general medical inquiries, complete the form on this page.