Renown pediatrician Dr. Lauren Sandefur gives you something to rest assured about. She talks about when to take your child in for well visits, from the earliest days to the teen years.
There’s plenty of potential stresses in being a parent that balance with all the joys of raising children. Whether you’re experienced in parenting or a first-timer, keeping little ones on track with growth and development can cause worry.
It’s important to remember that every baby develops differently, from crawling to teeth, from walking to talking. Dr. Lauren Sandefur with Renown Medical Group – Pediatrics has some advice for parents at any stop along the healthy way.
When are well visits needed and why they are so important early on?
In the first month of life, rapid changes are the norm. After all, baby is transitioning from inside mom’s belly to the great outside. Many babies lose weight after birth, and it’s important to make sure they are gaining weight after that initial loss. A lot of problems can also appear in infancy, so frequent well visits help spot these issues before they become more severe.
We do appointments a few days after birth, at 2 weeks old, 2 months old, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months and 12 months. Many of these appointments also include vaccinations to ensure your child is protected against illness.
What should parents watch for in between these well visits? Are there certain red flags that require an immediate checkup?
One red flag example: Any time a baby under 3 months old has a fever. This is a potential red flag and needs immediate attention.
Really, it’s important to remember that instinct and intuition are important. If you are concerned, we always encourage you to come have your child checked out or call and see if an appointment is needed. Any time you think you see a regression, meaning the baby or child has stopped doing something they were able to do previously, you should reach out to your doctor.
Some parents get nervous that their kids may be falling behind if they aren’t walking or talking at a certain age. Is there a good rule to help calm those nerves?
Reaching milestones and tracking development can be stressful. Because development can vary so widely, you may have one baby walking at 9 months and another isn’t at 14 months — and that’s okay.
Try not to panic if your little one isn’t doing everything on the average time table. It’s more important to take note if they aren’t progressing or there’s a big gap in motor or language skills compared to other kids their age. If your baby isn’t walking but they are cruising along furniture and pulling themselves up, they just aren’t ready to walk. But it’s not reason for alarm.
Every child develops differently, and your pediatrician can help decide if they’re on a normal schedule. This is another reason frequent well visits are so important. We complete formal development screenings at 9 months, 18 months and 24 months, and informal screenings are done during every visit.
If you are a little worried about something, jot it down in your phone or a journal and make sure to ask during your next visit. If it’s something you don’t think can wait, call your doctor’s office for a checkup.
What about as kids get older – what should parents keep an eye on with elementary-age kids and adolescents?
After the toddler years, the biggest focus is making sure kids are ready for school. As your kids head into kindergarten, it’s important to make sure they’re able to sit and listen, follow a routine or schedule, and are comfortable socializing with other kids.
In the adolescent years, it’s important to watch for problems in school which may be a sign of an attention disorder or learning disability. You also want to keep an eye out for mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Signs and symptoms include mood swings, withdrawal or lack of interest in things they typically enjoy, and statements suggesting low mood or thoughts of self harm by the teen themselves or their friends. In any of these cases, seek immediate help.