Well child checks for Houston
Everything you need to know about well child checks
A well child check, also known as a Well Check or a pediatric physical exam, is an important part of keeping your child healthy. It is the time to update vaccinations and check in with your child’s doctor about any anything you are worried about.
Even if your child is healthy, a well child exam gives your doctor the chance to answer questions about things like sleep or acting out at school.
Like many parents, you probably have questions about when to go in for a well child visit and what happens when you get there. To help, we’ve answered some of the questions Houston families have about well child checks.
What is a well child check (or Well Check)?
A well child check is a special exam that happens at certain ages, from birth until age eighteen. After three years old, well child visits usually happen once a year. Before three, they happen more often.
A well child exam is a low-stress time to check in with the doctor about any of your worries for your child, big and small. It is also a chance to make sure your child is healthy and growing normally. During this exam of your child, called a pediatric physical exam, the doctor checks your child’s growth and gives any vaccines he or she needs.
At this appointment, your doctor also screens for developmental milestones. Developmental milestones are things most children do at certain ages. For babies, crawling, walking, and talking are developmental milestones. For older kids, developmental milestones are things like reading, writing, and making friends.
When should I bring my child in for a well child check?
After the baby is born, the first check up should be when the baby is 3 to 5 days old. After that, children have more visits when they are younger because they are growing and changing so fast:
- 3-5 days
- 2 weeks
- 2 months
- 4 months
- 6 months
- 9 months
- 12 months (1 year)
- 15 months
- 18 months
- 24 months (2 years)
- 30 months
- 3 years, and once a year after
How much do well child checks cost?
Don’t worry about the cost! Well Check Exams are covered by Medicaid/CHIP and most other health plans. That means no cost to families.
At Vecino Health Centers, we want to make sure every child in Houston gets the pediatric physical exams they need to thrive. If your children do not have insurance, ask about our Financial Assistance Program.
What happens at a well child check?
During a well child visit, the doctor gives your child a pediatric physical exam. This means the doctor checks things like child’s height, weight, and heart rate, and does a few other simple tests.
At a well child exam for younger children, the doctor also asks questions about how a child plays, speaks, acts and moves. To make this easier, families in the Houston area who speak Spanish can schedule a well child visit at Vecino’s Denver Harbor Family Clinic or Vecino’s Airline Children’s Clinic and ask for a bilingual doctor or nurse.
The doctor might also talk and play a little with your child during the well child check. All of this is part of the developmental milestone screening. Your doctor is just checking to see if your child learns and grows like other children her age, or if she needs a little extra help. If your child needs extra help, your doctor will get you the services you need.
Older children who plan to play sports at school usually take care of their sports physical at the same time as their well child exam.
Will my child get vaccinations during a well child check, and are they safe?
Your child might need vaccinations during their next well child visit. This depends on his age and if he got all of the other vaccinations he needed when he was younger.
Many parents have questions about the safety of vaccines. It is normal to worry about something so important. But good news: vaccines in the US are the safest they have ever been. Scientists spend a lot of time studying the safety of vaccines. In fact, most vaccines are tested for ten years or more before doctors start giving them to children.
Doctors consider vaccines safe, but side effects do sometimes happen. (A side effect is a reaction like a headache or fever that sometimes happens after a person gets a vaccine or takes medicine.)
Each person’s body acts differently after a vaccine, but serious problems are rare. Taking a vaccine is still safer than not taking it. If you are worried about the safety of vaccines, a well child check is a great time to talk to your child’s doctor.
What questions can I ask during my child’s well child check?
A well child check isn’t just the time for a pediatric physical exam and developmental screening. It is also a great time to ask your doctor about any problems that came up since your child’s last appointment.
No question or problem is too small for a well child visit. Some parents even like to bring a list of questions to help them remember everything.
Parents ask all sorts of questions during well child visits, but here are some questions parents ask:
- How can I get my child to sleep better?
- Is my child overweight?
- Are vaccines safe?
- My child isn’t doing well in school. Is there something wrong?
- My child is acting out more than usual at home. Should I worry?
- My child doesn’t seem to hear well. Can you test for this?
- Is my child healthy enough to play sports?
- When I compare my child to other kids his age, something just seems “not right”. Is he growing normally?
Should teenagers have one-on-one time with the doctor during a well child check?
Parents sometimes ask if their teenage children need privacy during well child visits. The American Academy of Pediatrics says parents should think about giving teenagers one-on-one time with the doctor during well child checks. This gives teens a chance to ask questions about sensitive things like relationships, depression, and bullying.
It is sometimes hard to decide whether your teenager needs one-on-one time during a well child exam. This decision is personal to each family and different for each child. If you need help deciding, talk to your teen’s doctor at the beginning of the well child visit.