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An apple a day: why annual check-ups are important  By: Dr. Bethany Weinert, Pewaukee Pediatrics Children's Wisconsin

An apple a day: Why annual check-ups are important

As the saying goes, an apple a day keeps the doctor away. But we would still like to see your kiddos at least once a year. Did you know the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends kids see their doctor once a year for an annual well visit

Having your kids see their pediatrician for an annual check-up is important to their overall well-being and it’s one of my favorite parts of my job! I love making sure that my patients are healthy and making choices that will help ensure their health in the future. All of this plays a huge part of your child’s well-being. 

Understanding your child’s overall health 

Annual visits help me look at your child’s health through a longer lens — I can assess how your child’s growth and lifestyle are impacting their health. All kids grow and develop on their own time schedule and in their own way. Watching how your child develops year to year will help me understand if their growth is on track or if there is an issue we need to keep a closer eye on. Also, an annual well visit helps me understand what potential social and emotional issues your child may be facing. This is much tougher to do when I only see kiddos for sick visits. 

What you can expect in your child’s annual check-up

The vitals: We will measure your child’s height, weight, blood pressure and other vital functions. 

Screenings: Vision and hearing will be assessed. If we notice any issues with vision or hearing, we will make sure you get to specialists who can help your child. 

The physical: I will complete a physical assessment of your child making sure they are growing in a manner that is on track for their individual growth. Remember, not all kids grow the same. I’ll look at their bodies, peak at their eyes, ears and throat, check for scoliosis, and anything else that may affect their wellness. Also, many of my patients are active in sports that require a physical form completed to participate. I can handle that as a part of the annual check-up. 

Immunizations: If your child is due for any immunizations, we will administer that during this well-visit. Immunizations are really important for preventing many serious childhood diseases.

The conversations: This is how I get to know my patients and their families best. We will have a conversation about your child’s eating, exercise, sleeping habits and lifestyle. 

Annual well-visits in our Children’s Wisconsin primary care offices now include a discussion about your child’s mental and behavioral health. For younger kids, parents will fill out a short questionnaire before being seen. Older kids will fill it out themselves. Also, for my teen patients, there is the teen talk. I typically ask parents to wait in the waiting room so I can talk to them about common issues affecting teens, such as drug, tobacco and alcohol use, safe dating practices and understanding peer pressures. Whether it's little kids or teens, I will help your child get on the path best suited for their needs. 

What you can do

Schedule the appointment! Sometimes that is the hardest part. Our lives are so busy between work, school and after-school activities that we often put aside these visits saying we will do it one day. Make “one day” today and schedule the appointment. Even if your child hasn’t been in a few years, schedule the appointment. We really want to see you! Children’s Wisconsin offers online scheduling so you can do it any time of day. MyChart is another easy (and free) way to schedule appointments and communicate with your child’s care team. 

Ask for help: If you see that your child is struggling in an area of their life, talk to your pediatrician about it. We are a good resource to help you with ideas for how to tackle whatever issue your child is facing — whether it’s a school issue or social/emotional or anything in between, we can help. 

Ask questions: I encourage parents and kids alike to come with lots of questions. As you get ready for your child’s well-visit, write down a list of questions. Encourage your kids to think of questions, too. When you bring your child to see me, our conversation isn’t a one-way street. I love the one-on-one time and discussing what’s going on in a child’s life. 

Annual visits are an important part of your child’s growth and development. Whether it’s been a while or just last year, schedule your child’s visit today. We can’t wait to see you.