Why are your baby’s wellness check-ups important?

By Dr Chantelle van der BijlBloemMomDoc

Having a baby is a huge responsibility, and one of those responsibilities is taking your child for their wellness visits. Your baby is thriving; they’re gaining weight, smiling, and happy.  Why should you waste your money on going for wellness check-ups with your baby or toddler?

Just like annual check-ups for adults are recommended, they are even more critical for children. As most parents aren’t healthcare professionals, they might miss early subtle signs of deficiencies, delays, or diseases.  By going to your wellness check-ups, your healthcare provider can pick up any problems earlier and treat them before they cause significant issues.

During the first two years, you should be visiting your healthcare provider regularly and then annually after 2 years of age.  If you don’t want to see a paediatrician for every appointment, you can visit a General Practitioner or Professional Nurse. They will refer you to the appropriate healthcare provider if they detect any issues with your baby or child.

Here are a few reasons why you should take your child for wellness visits:

Developing a relationship with your healthcare provider

By seeing your healthcare provider regularly, you build a trusting relationship with them.  They will get to know your child and will be able to pick up problems sooner.

You will be working as a team to raise a healthy child.

Tracking growth

Especially within the first few months of a baby’s life, their brain and body grow rapidly. This needs to be monitored closely and plotted on growth charts to pick up any failure to thrive or excessive weight gain.  By charting your child’s growth, it can be compared with the development of children of the same age and gender; thus, you will be able to see any deviations. Monitoring your child’s head circumference is also very important to monitor brain growth and pick up central nervous system problems.

Talk about feeding

Your healthcare provider can ask questions about your baby’s diet to prevent vitamin and mineral deficiencies.  You can discuss with your doctor if you have issues with breastfeeding or discuss formula or other milk options when they are bigger.  They can assist with advice with picky eating and sensory problems. They can advise when to start solid foods and which foods to try or avoid.

Discuss concerns

This is then an excellent opportunity to ask all those niggly questions you have googled in the middle of the night.  From taking away the dummy, potty training and teeth-grinding, your healthcare provider may be able to help with advice.

Check your child’s immunisations

Your healthcare provider can check that all your immunisations are up to date and recommend additional ones that your child may seasonally need, like the flu vaccine.

Check your child’s development

Sitting, crawling, walking and talking aren’t the only milestones your child should be reaching to stay on track.  There are many important milestones to be achieved in the areas of fine and gross motor, speech, cognitive and social that you maybe were not aware of. Your healthcare provider can pick up any delays and refer you to the appropriate therapist to prevent further delays.  Earlier intervention is always more beneficial.

Common health problems

There are specific health problems common in childhood, including anaemia, worm infestations, lice, etc. These may present with sleep problems, picky eating, behavioral problems and poor school performance.  Your healthcare provider can investigate these and treat them timely.  They can also screen for Autism, ADHD and other mental health problems that children and teens may face these days.

Preventative medicine

Ever heard the saying: “prevention is better than cure?” Prevention of diseases is one of the main reasons to visit your healthcare provider.  They can give advice specifically tailored to your family and situation.  Maybe you didn’t know your child had to brush their teeth from the moment they wake, or how much milk they should be drinking after 1 year old.  Your healthcare provider can advise you on all these things to prevent you from visiting them in the future with health problems.  They can also advise on issues like SIDS prevention and safe sleeping conditions.

They might assist with your own health

Healthcare providers aren’t just there for your kids; they also want to ensure the parents’ wellbeing. A happy parent equals a happy child. They may pick up signs of post-natal depression or other health problems that may prevent you from being the best parent you want to be.

Your healthcare provider is your most valuable person to discuss your child’s health concerns and questions.  Sure, there are many sources of healthcare information online, but these are not always reliable or factual.  Try avoiding medical advice on social media parenting groups and stick to credible sources of advice.

Bloem MomDoc – A website by a doctor mom sharing some info on child and maternal health and fun!

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