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Routine checkups: A recipe for healthy children

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The University of Kentucky Public Relations & Strategic Communications Office provides a weekly health column available for use and reprint by news media. This week's column is by LaTawnya Pleasant, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics in the UK College of Medicine and pediatrician with Kentucky Children’s Hospital.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 5, 2024) ­ In the journey of parenthood, an essential step toward ensuring the health and happiness of your child is attending well-child care visits with your pediatrician. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends parents schedule routine checkups at key developmental stages to give your little one the best care. Those developmental stages in the first year include:  

  • First week (3 to 5 days 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 ½ years old 
  • Annual visits from age 3 on 

You can talk to your pediatrician to set well-child visits beyond the first three years of care.  

Well-child visits also offer your child important health advantages, including: 

Immunization. At your well-child visit your child can receive scheduled vaccinations to protect them against various diseases as their immune system continues to develop. By ensuring that your child is up to date on vaccines, you contribute to the well-being of the community and create a safer environment for your child to thrive in. 

Tracking growth and development. This is an integral part of pediatric visits. Doctors carefully monitor your child’s physical, cognitive and emotional progress, providing key insights into their overall health. Regular visits ensure time for suggestions, questions or concerns and a place for support.  

Getting answers. Well-child visits are an opportunity for parents to ask health care providers important questions on a variety of topics from eating habits to behaviors. Being able to address health concerns early on is a proactive approach to preventing sickness and helping your child grow.   

Teamwork. While the focus of these routine checkups is on the health of your child, it’s also about building a partnership between you and your health care team. The visits should be an opportunity for parents and doctors to comfortably collaborate to create the best outcome for their child. Open communication fosters a supportive environment, empowering parents to actively participate in their child’s health care journey.  

A strong parent-doctor relationship will ensure your child’s health care is personalized to meet their needs and create a trusting relationship between doctor and child. The more comfortable you are with your pediatrician the more open you can be with your health care. 

The AAP also offers new parents checklists online for each of these well-child visits.  

If you have questions about scheduling visits or health care concerns, contact your child’s pediatrician.

UK HealthCare is the hospitals and clinics of the University of Kentucky. But it is so much more. It is more than 10,000 dedicated health care professionals committed to providing advanced subspecialty care for the most critically injured and ill patients from the Commonwealth and beyond. It also is the home of the state’s only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, a Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit that cares for the tiniest and sickest newborns, the region’s only Level 1 trauma center and Kentucky’s top hospital ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

As an academic research institution, we are continuously pursuing the next generation of cures, treatments, protocols and policies. Our discoveries have the potential to change what’s medically possible within our lifetimes. Our educators and thought leaders are transforming the health care landscape as our six health professions colleges teach the next generation of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health care professionals, spreading the highest standards of care. UK HealthCare is the power of advanced medicine committed to creating a healthier Kentucky, now and for generations to come.