This past year has been one of upheaval for everyone and some families may have chosen to postpone routine health care due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Child physicals provide the opportunity for providers to monitor overall health status and identify if there is anything the child or family needs—now is the perfect time to schedule your child’s physical if it’s overdue.
Not so routine: physicals go beyond the basics
Providers address your child’s whole health during a physical: we make sure growth and development are on track, review eating habits, nutrition concerns and discuss sleep—including bedtime routines and sleep schedules—to make sure nightly sleep amounts are adequate for your child’s age (this has been challenging for many parents during the pandemic). We also review any changes to your family’s medical history and how those changes may impact your child.
We have seen a definite increase in pediatric mental health concerns over the past year due to the disruption in school schedules, extracurricular activities and spending time with peers. Being with friends is an important part of a child’s sense of well-being and development. Monitoring mental health, specifically the emotional and social aspects of child development, is an important part of your child’s physical.
Child Physical Timeline
D-H and CHaD follow the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Bright Futures Guidelines for the timing and frequency of well-child visits at the following ages:
- Two weeks
- Two months
- Four months
- Six months
- Nine months
- 12 months
- 15 months
- 18 months
- 24 months
- 30 months
- Three years
- Annually every year after
When a child presents with mental health concerns, providers explore the child and family’s interest in and need for counseling. Providers can offer information to help families connect with local mental health/ behavioral health providers. Some Dartmouth-Hitchcock sites even have on-site opportunities for short-term counseling.
Vaccinations and activity clearances
If your child has fallen behind on routine vaccines due to COVID-19, your provider will develop a plan to help them catch up as appropriate. Your child’s vaccination record and annual physical form are often required by daycares, schools, camps and sports associations. They provide a health history to care providers and are good for one year from the date of the physical—as long as nothing has changed in your child’s medical history.
Some families opt for sports physicals at walk-in medical clinics if routine physicals are overdue and a child needs clearance to play a team sport. While sports physicals review overall health in regard to readiness for sports, they are not as comprehensive as annual physicals and should not replace them.
The providers at D-H and CHaD are working hard to make child physicals accessible and timely for families, so please don’t hesitate to call us for an appointment.