Children’s heath involves keeping your child physically, mentally and emotionally healthy. A partnership between a child’s family and the child’s physician helps assure the child will receive the care needed to reach these goals. The relationship between the child, doctor and parent creates a medical home where the doctor knows the child’s history, listens and advises on any concern a parent may have and provides parents with the guidance on ways to make sure a child has the tools to lead a healthy life.
The type of doctor your child can be seen by is either a pediatrician or a family physician. A pediatrician is a doctor whose medical specialty focuses on treating newborns to young adults up to the age of 21. A family physician is a doctor that has trained in many different areas, including primarily in pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology and internal medicine. So, a family physician can treat all ages. Whichever type of doctor you choose, there is a special bond formed between the doctor, child and a parent. If your child needs a specialist for a specific condition or disease, there are also pediatric subspecialists. For instance, there are pediatric nephrologists (kidney doctors), pulmonologists (lung doctors) and oncologists (cancer doctors as well as many other specialists.
It is important not only to visit the doctor when your child is sick but also to go for all the recommended well child visits. Well child visits address not only vaccines and how your child is growing but also preventive care, which is the cornerstone of children’s health.
Choosing Your Child’s Doctor
- If you are pregnant and looking for a doctor, begin researching a few months before your due date. If you are under a managed healthcare plan, learn about your coverage options.
- Then, ask trusted friends, family, and local hospitals for recommendations. Another resource is the American Academy of Pediatrics or American Board of Family Physicians websites, where you can find a list of board certified pediatricians or family practitioners respectively.
- Next, schedule a prenatal appointment with your top hopefuls and prepare a checklist of questions. You should leave feeling confident about the staff and the doctor’s personality and philosophy.
Scheduling Doctor Visits
Doctor visits are not just important for when your child is sick but they are especially important for well childcare visits. At these visits, your child’s doctor will take physical measurements; uss any concerns you may have along with performing a thorough history, sensory screenings, behavioral assessments, development evaluation, immunizations, and blood work screening tests when appropriate. All of this is done with the goal of making sure you and your child receive the care and guidance needed to allow your child to live a long healthy life.
The following are suggested intervals for visits:
- Right after birth: 3 to 5 days after being harged from the hospital
- During the first year up to 1st birthday: at month 1, 2, 4, 6, 9 and 12
- During the second year up to 2nd birthday: at month 15, 18, and 24
- During third year up to 3rd birthday: at 30 months and 3 years old
- At 4 years old
- And then once every year thereafter for an annual visit.
Making the Most of Your Visit with Your Child’s Doctor
1. Write down questions beforehand to make sure you get all of your concerns answered during the visit and do not be afraid to ask questions;
2. If your concerns can be further demonstrated with photographs or videos, take them in to show to your child’s doctor; and
3. Write down any instructions or information your child’s doctor may give you and review them with the doctor before you leave.
Leading Causes of Death in Infants and Children
One of the leading causes of death in infants is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The good news is that research has demonstrated ways to help reduce the risk of SIDS. Here are some things you can do to help reduce the risk of SIDS:
- From birth to one year of age, place hour baby on his or her back while sleeping;
- Place your baby on a firm surface when asleep;
- From birth to one year of age, let baby have a pacifier while sleeping. If the pacifier should fall out, you don’t have to reinsert it. If you are breastfeeding, make sure it is going well before introducing the pacifier, which can take 3 to 4 weeks.
- Breastfeed as long as possible.
- Keep your baby away from smoke.
The leading cause of death in children is accidents. Here are some great ways to childproof your home:
- Make sure all rugs are secured to the floors or have a non-slip pad underneath.
- Put doorknob covers on doors that should not be opened, especially the front door to the house.
- Install finger pinch guards on frequently used doors.
- Make sure there is no peeling of or cracks in the paint on your walls.
- Make sure bookshelves are bolted to the wall or are weighted properly so that they will not tip over if your child tugs on them.
- Keep blind cords tied and secured high up.
- If you have stairs, make sure you have a safety gate on both the bottom and the top of the stairs and make sure you buy a safety gate that fastens to the wall with hardware.
- Use protective padding on all corners of furniture, staircases and countertops.
- Use safety latches and locks on all cabinets or drawers that your child might be able to get into. This is especially important when it comes to places where you keep household cleaning supplies, alcohol, or other potentially toxic materials.
- Keep sharp objects, like knives, forks or scissors, away from the edge of countertops or store them away.
- Make sure you have a stove lock and knob protectors installed, so your child does not accidentally turn the stove or oven on.
- You can also install a stove guard to prevent your child from reaching the burners.
- Keep small objects like refrigerator magnets out of reach.
- Use outlet covers and outlet plates on any outlet your child could possibly touch.
- Unplug appliances that are not in use. Make sure to tuck appliance and phone cords away so they are out of reach.
- Put any sharp objects like tweezers or razors in a locked cabinet along with medications, cosmetics, toiletries and cleaning supplies.
- Never leave your child alone in a bathroom. A child could drown in just one inch of water.
- The toilet should stay closed with a toilet-lid lock installed.