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Preparing Your Child (And Yourself) For A Well-Child Visit

by Brett Mills

Well-child visits are an important part of ensuring the on-going positive health and development of your child. However, many children find these visits stressful and terrifying. Preparing them for a well-child requires educating them on what will occur and easing their anxieties.

Take Child to Your Doctor's Appointments

If your child shows serious fears about attending their next well-child visit, it's a good idea to take them along with you to your doctor appointments. This can help desensitize them by illustrating that visiting the doctor is "no big deal."

Try to pick an appointment that most closely mimics a well-child visit, such as a physical or a checkup. Keep a friendly smile on your face during the procedure and avoid showing pain. Watching you react positively to what the child considers a stressful situation will help calm their concerns.

Discuss the Type of Tests

Older children should know what kinds of tests the doctor will perform during a well-child visit. While this won't be necessary for non-comprehending infants, older children will be curious and deserve to know. Typical examinations performed during a well-child visit include:

  • Listening to the body's sounds.
  • Taking heart rate.
  • Testing reflexes.
  • Body temperature tests.
  • Tests for jaundice.
  • Height tests.
  • Weight tests.

It's also important for you to talk to the doctor before the visit. They can explain any extra tests they may need to perform. Extra tests, such as eye exams, usually vary depending on results from previous visits.

Understand the Schedule

An early well-child visit schedule is often demanding: most children will have gone through at least nine before they're one year old. However, as your child gets older and more aware of what's going on in their life, they should know how often they need to go on a well-child visit.

The general rule of thumb is about once a year until the child is 18-21. Make sure to tell them a week or two in advance when they will be attending the doctor to give them plenty of time to emotionally prepare

Get Them Ready for Needles

Immunizations and other injections are a big part of a well-child visit. Unfortunately, experts estimate that at least one in 10 children have a "debilitating" fear of needles. Thankfully, there are a variety of methods you can use to help streamline the experience and ease your child's fears:

  • Be honest with them. Don't try to claim it won't hurt, because when it does they'll feel betrayed. Just let them know they'll feel a little "sting" and let them hold your hand.
  • Keep them well hydrated before the visit to make their veins easier to find.
  • Avoid making a production out of it. Behave as if going to the doctor and getting immunizations are just normal, every day activities.
  • Reward them for good behavior. Take your child out for pizza or buy them a toy if they don't panic during the appointment.

If you need more help preparing your child (or yourself) for a well-child visit, call a pediatric doctor.