Children will often pay a visit to the doctor when they are unwell, but did you know, it is also equally important for the child to attend a well-child check-up? Even when they are fit and healthy, a visit to the doctor can also be useful in many ways.
During a well-child visit, the pediatrician can check up on your child’s health and ensure that they are growing and developing normally. Unlike a sick visit, a well-child visit gives the doctor the opportunity to identify any problems earlier. In some cases, the doctor can also refer your child to a specialist for further evaluation.
A well-child check up can be conducted as early as the 3rd day of your newborn’s life, all the way up to their early adulthood years.
When should I take my child for a well-child check up?
Newborn (3-5 days old)
2 weeks old
1 month old
2 months old
4 months old
6 months old
9 months old
12 months old
15 months old
18 months old
2 years old
2.5 years old
3 years old
After 3 years old, it is encouraged for children to have an annual well-child visit until they reach young adulthood.
What happens at a well-child visit?
The doctor will review your child’s height, weight (and sometimes, the head circumference) and calculate their body mass index (BMI) to determine whether the child is growing normally
A full head-to-toe examination will be carried out
Auscultation (listening to the sounds of the body) using a stethoscope. The doctor will usually listen to the child’s heart, lungs and intestines to monitor the frequency, intensity, duration and the quality.
A well-child visit is also the perfect opportunity for parents to raise any concerns they may have regarding their child’s growth and development. This may include nutrition and eating habits, sleeping problems and the child’s hygiene.
The procedures at a well-child visit may differ, depending on the age of your child:
Infant check up
Measurements of weight, height, head circumference
Examination of the baby’s head, eyes, ears and mouth
Examination of the skin for rashes and/or birthmarks
Checking for jaundice
Checking any concerns regarding the baby’s feeding
Pressing on the baby’s abdomen to detect any enlarged organs or unusual lumps
Moving the baby’s legs to check for dislocations or issues with joints
In some cases, the doctor can inspect your baby’s genitalia for signs of infection
Updating the baby’s immunization record by administering vaccines at the appropriate time
Addressing any concerns about the child’s social interaction, language and play skills
School-aged children check up
Review of weight, height and BMI
The doctor will ask questions to assess your child’s mental, emotional and social development. For instance, some questions may be asked about their sleeping habits or their gross motor and language skills.
As a parent, what can I do to prepare?
Try using pretend-play to demonstrate what will happen during the check-up. For instance, use toys to demonstrate how the doctor will examine different parts of the body. Some children have a favourite toy that can be used to explain the medical procedures. These examples will help prepare the child for the visit, by enabling them to understand and visualise things that they may not necessarily be familiar with.
Doing so may not only help the child to know what to expect, but it could also inform you of any of your child’s concerns.
Sometimes, no matter how much you’ve prepared, your child still may cry or show discomfort. This is nothing to worry about, as this is a normal way to respond to a new environment and people they are unfamiliar with. Try to avoid showing your anxiety, as your child may be able to recognize it and feel more upset.
During the procedure, you could try distracting your child with games, toys, videos to make them feel more at ease. For older children, encourage them to participate when talking to the doctor, when it is appropriate. For example, allow them to share how they are feeling or if they are experiencing any pain on a particular part of their body.
What type of questions can I ask?
Parents are encouraged to ask anything that relates to the child’s health and wellness. The pediatrician is trained to answer and address a range of concerns, such as:
How many hours of sleep should my child be getting, and what are some measures I can take to make sure they get enough rest?
How much exercise should my child be doing on a daily basis?
How can I ensure my child is on a healthy diet? Are there any foods they need to avoid?
Is my child’s immunisation/vaccinations up to date?
What milestones should I be looking for at this point in time?
Is it normal that my child is… (gaining weight? A picky eater? Not socialising?)
How can I take care of my child’s mental health?
Thank you for taking the time to read our article on well-child check-ups!