Well-Child Checks Help Keep Kids Healthy Throughout Their Lives

Written by David J. Schneider, MD

(Left to right) Susan, Carter and Jake George smile for a photo with their newest family member, Kaden, when he was just a few weeks old.

Mercer Island resident, Susan George, 33, has a 6-year-old stepson, but being a mom to her and her husband’s 2-month-old son is, as she admits, “all new.”

Although she has parenting down, knowing everything that comes with caring for a newborn has been a learning experience. To assist with this sometimes daunting responsibility, Susan chose a pediatrician near their home and has already taken their baby boy, Kaden, for four or five routine visits.

After being referred by a friend to Virginia Mason Medical Center, Susan and her husband chose me as their son’s pediatrician.

As is recommended with all newborns’ initial clinic visit 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 and helping guide me as the mother of a newborn,” said Susan. “I also really appreciate that at each well-child check, Dr. Schneider clearly 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, the care protocols always 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.
  • Track 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 the child’s development. Parents can also discuss their child’s milestones, social behaviors, and learning.
  • Ask questions or raise concerns — The visits allow parents to make a list of topics they want to talk about with their child’s pediatrician; such as development, behavior, sleep, diet, or getting along with other family members.
  • Team approach — Regular visits create strong, trustworthy relationships among 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.

David J. Schneider, MD, is a board-certified pediatrician who practices at Virginia Mason Bellevue Medical Center. He specializes in pediatrics and adolescent medicine. Dr. Schneider earned his medical degree from University of Washington School of Medicine, did his residency at New York University and practiced at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles as well as a private practice in south Orange County, Calif. He is also a former professional dancer with Pacific Northwest Ballet Company whose interests include sports medicine, LGBTQ health and all areas of general pediatrics.

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