Physical examinations are essential for your developing child’s health and growth. As your child continues to develop, each physical visit will look a bit different however, the initial process of a pediatric physical examination will look quite similar for many. When you take your child to their pediatrician for a physical exam, you can expect that:
- A nurse will take your child’s weight, height, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation levels. This part of the physical examination is relatively painless and quick.
- You, your child, and your child’s pediatrician will have a conversation about your child’s health and development. If your child is a patient returning to the office, their medical records such as; existing conditions, health history, health concerns, and more may be reviewed and discussed with the doctor.
- Your child’s pediatrician will perform an observation on your child. The doctor will use their fingers and hands to examine the child for any signs of irregular fluid buildup, unusual heart activity, or irregular circulation. This will assist the doctor in determining if any abnormal health concerns should be further evaluated.
- Your child’s pediatrician will use a stethoscope to listen to their heart. Stethoscopes will allow your child’s pediatrician to hear the pitch, location, loudness, and timing of your child’s heart.
Physical exams while necessary, may give your young child anxiety. Talking to your child about what they can expect during a physical exam and the importance of being checked regularly may help calm their angst. The following is a list of what you can expect during your child’s appointment in specific age groups:
Infant: Because infants are very vulnerable before the age of 1, they need to regularly see a pediatrician to monitor their health and development. Typically, the times that infants need physicals are at two weeks of age, two months of age, four months of age, six months of age, nine months of age, and one year. For every visit except the two-week and nine-month visit, your child should receive a vaccine.
Toddler: Toddlers should be having physical exams at 18 months, two years, and three years. Although there are no specific vaccines for toddlers, the pediatrician may recommend vaccines they feel necessary or beneficial to your child’s health.
4-5-Year-Olds: While all schools do not require a physical examination to start kindergarten, many do! Even if your child’s school does not require it, it is always a good idea to bring your child in for a physical exam to assure they are healthy and up to date on vaccines. The pediatrician will inform you if your child should get another vaccine or if they are ready to go.
6-11-Year-Olds: Generally, children who are over 5 years old only need a physical bi-yearly (Every 2 years). However, be mindful that this is not the case for children with chronic conditions or children who play sports. In these instances, your child may need to visit their pediatrician once a year or more. Other than the annual flu vaccine, children do not typically need any more vaccines until they are 11 years old.
Teens: As stated above, if your child does not play sports or has a chronic condition, they will generally only need a physical every 2 years. If you need to bring your child in for a sports physical, assure their school form is completed before visiting the doctor. Once the examination has been completed, the doctor will sign off on the form so that your child may participate in their sports activities. Depending on their pediatrician, they may recommend that your child receives one or two more vaccines.
Does your child need a physical exam? The office of SuraMed Health Center PA is here to assure the health and development of your child are on track! Contact us to schedule your child’s appointment today.