You may think of the doctor’s office as a place to take your school-age kids when they’re sick or have an injury.
We’d also like you to think about the doctor as a place to take your children each year when they’re healthy. These appointments are called well-child visits. Here’s why those visits are just as important for an earache or bad sore throat.
Do you remember taking your baby to the doctor often for the first 2-1/2 years? Providers checked if your baby was growing and behaving as expected—reaching “developmental milestones.”
Well-baby exams were so important because they helped providers prevent problems or find them early, when they’re easier to treat. In addition to taking your baby’s measurements and doing a physical exam, the provider:
- Talked with you about your baby’s sleep, safety, nutrition and activity.
- Gave the recommended shots to protect against diseases.
- Answered your questions.
- Got to know your little ones, their needs and their interests.
Your child’s doctor or nurse practitioner wants to keep up those kinds of exams, conversations and preventive care.
Well-child visits for ages 3 to 21 years
Most 3-year-old children are ready to switch to a once-yearly well-child visit, continuing through the teens and into young adulthood.
The idea is for your growing child to feel comfortable with their provider, build a relationship, and develop a lifelong habit of an annual exam for preventive health.
A lot can happen at a wellness visit. Depending on your child’s age, you can expect things like:
- Vision, hearing and blood pressure screenings
- Discussion of timely health topics, including growth, behavior and emotions at your child’s stage
- Complete physical exam.
Wellness exams: 100 percent free for OHP members
But please get your family to the doctor’s office for an annual wellness exam, too. They are completely free for Oregon Health Plan members, and are covered by most private insurance plans, too.