Advance with MUSC Health

Back-to-School FAQs: Why You Should Schedule a Well-Child Visit Now

Advance With MUSC Health
June 22, 2022
Henry Lemon, M.D.

Classroom-free summer is now in session, it’s true — but it’s a good idea to go ahead and begin thinking about your child’s back-to-school wellness visit, physical, and immunizations. Why? Because well-child visits assess not only physical needs but also emotional ones. Well Child visits demonstrate to kids the importance of their health, teaches them to trust physicians, and prompts them to maintain their health thru regular checkups into adulthood. Routine checkups support growth and development and alert primary care doctors to any issues that may arise so they can quickly intervene.

MUSC Health pediatrician Dr. Henry M. Lemon, also director of Children’s Care Network, is here to discuss what to expect from a routine wellness visit and why it’s important to schedule one for your child before they head back into the classroom.

What is a routine wellness visit?

When we see children during a wellness visit, we want to give you an update on your child’s overall health so you (and we) can make the best choices to promote better health while finding and addressing any problems early on.

You can expect a well-child visit — also known as an annual checkup — to include a medical history, social history, physical examination, and developmental assessment. We measure height and weight to determine if your child is growing normally. For babies, we measure the head circumference. We also discuss nutrition, dental care, sleep patterns, behavior issues, and feeding schedules. Hearing, vision, and other screenings that include blood work are also part of some visits. Expect various immunizations at different stages of your child’s life to prevent measles, whooping cough, and other serious diseases.  Immunization schedules are constantly evolving and so this is an important part of preventative health.

We also check:

  • Vitals
  • Blood pressure
  • Heart rate
  • Breathing

Why should you schedule a wellness visit?

In a nutshell, wellness visits help you stay on top of your child’s health. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) state that annual checkups also prevent disease and detect disease early when treatment is more effective.

How often should you do a wellness visit?

The younger your child, the more frequent the wellness visit is to keep a close eye on growth and development. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends seven well-child visits between ages one and four:

  • 12 months
  • 15 months
  • 18 months
  • 24 months
  • 30 months
  • 3 years
  • 4 years

After four years of age, kids can begin annual checkups. Your pediatrician may recommend a more frequent schedule.

Why are immunizations included in wellness visits? 

Completing all of your child’s recommended vaccinations is key to ensuring their safety. Without vaccines, kids are not protected from dangerous, contagious diseases like whooping cough and measles. Outbreaks of preventable diseases in recent years underline the importance of being up-to-date on vaccines. For a complete guide to recommended back-to-school vaccines in South Carolina, see this guide by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

A signed immunization record is required to attend school and this document can be picked up and updated as part your well-child visit.

Don’t wait for a problem to occur — get your wellness visit scheduled now and keep your kids’ health on track!