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Raising Healthy Children

July 20, 2017
The proverb “it takes a village to raise a child” continues to resonate with many modern parents. The members of the village often include relatives, friends, neighbors, teachers and church leaders. What about a child’s primary care physician? People tend to think of doctors only when someone is sick, but healthcare is evolving to be more preventive and focused on the whole person rather than on just a symptom or episode of illness. If a primary care physician isn’t part of the village that is raising your family or that of someone you love, keep reading! 

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children have a well-child appointment with their physician annually, beginning at age 3*. Ideally, this appointment will align with the child’s birthday. The purpose of the visit is to: 
  • prevent illness
  • identify early concerns over development or medical issues
  • track development
  • build a positive, consistent relationship between children, their parents and their physicians
These annual appointments allow physicians to interact with the child while he or she is happy and feeling well, establishing a benchmark against which future symptoms or test results can be compared. They give parents more opportunity to talk face-to-face about their child’s growth and development with the doctor. They offer a way for children to become familiar with their doctor, which can ease their anxiety when it’s time for a shot. Building a solid relationship with a physician at an early age can help set the stage for a child to develop into a health-conscious adolescent. And, the continuity of seeing the same physician (or small group of physicians) over time provides a more personal care experience. 

Along with their teams, primary care physicians are valuable resources for parents. In addition to delivering medical care during an illness, your child’s doctor can also give guidance on subjects like: 
  • sleep quality and quantity
  • hearing and vision
  • body mass index and nutrition
  • oral health
  • mental and emotional health (separation anxiety, fear of the dark, expressing feelings)
  • social behaviors (sharing, making friends)
If your family’s “village” is in need of a primary care provider, visit for a list of practices and their contact information. 

*Consult with a physician for more specifics about how often children under the age of 3 should be checked.
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