Are “Well Visits” Necessary?

sweetest sisters Are Well Visits Necessary? Maybe we should call and cancel,” I said to Tim last night as we were pulling our white comforter up to our chins at midnight.

You’re just telling me this now?” he said sleepily, “Their appointments are tomorrow.”

I reply, “I know, but I’m just not sure how I feel about it. Why are we taking our two perfectly healthy children to the doctor?

Our eyelids are getting heavy. I know I’ll be out in about 5 minutes flat. We pray and decide to go. After all, it might be a good idea to get them checked out one more time before we hit the road…zzzz.

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playing chase Are Well Visits Necessary? Are we the only ones who think it’s a little strange to take “well” kids to the doctor? Our culture – the medical establishment – the insurance industry – somebody has convinced us all that we need to take our children to the doctor once a year for “check-ups.”

As far as I can tell, check-ups are all pretty much the same. Height. Weight. Ears. Eyes. Blood Pressure. Vaccines. Done.

The doctor also shares the highly revered growth charts to parents, which often turn into bragging rights (“My son is 98th in height!” or “My daughter is 5% in weight!“).

For the record, I don’t really care where my girls are “on the chart.” Nor do I need to obsessively know exactly how much my baby weighs for the first year. (“How much does she weigh?” strangers ask at the grocery store. “I don’t know,” I say, which – to me – seems to be a perfectly good answer.)

Besides all of that, the very premise of “well visits” is contradictory. Hey – why don’t we bring our healthy kids to a confined space where people have been coughing, throwing up, running fevers, scratching rashes, etc? Hmmm.

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thoughtful white shirt blue jeans Are Well Visits Necessary? In the waiting room, we distract our girls from the books and toys. Our 18-month-old is content in my arms. Our 4-year-old is content watching YouTube clips of “Beauty & The Beast” on my phone. I see a colorful poster with the numbers 1-10 on it. It is sponsored by Similac. “Annie of PhD in Parenting wouldn’t approve of this,” I say to Tim.

The office is clean and new. The walls are splattered with artwork and brochure racks – and vaccine alerts (“5 confirmed cases of whooping cough in CA!” etc.). The doctor is attentive and spends a lot of time talking to us. He shows us the growth charts (In the CDC one, our youngest is falling off the charts. In the WHO chart, she’s just fine. Funny.). He wants her to be poked for anemia because of her low weight – just in case. We agree to the blood prick on her finger. (She’s not anemic. Surprise!). He recommends lots of vaccines – 4 or 5 each. We decline for our 4-year-old. We get 1 for our 18-month-old (that we had previously decided on).

It was a positive visit. Everyone was nice. The doctor didn’t pressure us about vaccines. Our 4-year-old was a bit enchanted by the stethoscope and blood pressure cuff.

Even so, we’re trying to decide when – if – we’ll go back again.

(Also. When we got back home, we put both girls in the bath right away.)

Do you take your children to “well visits” once a year? Why or why not?

  • beth yodis

    We did till we moved to Ukraine (our daughter had just turned 5). Then after that I became “Dr. Mom” and read easy medical books and diagnosed all of her illnesses accurately. Of course, here in Ukraine, we can buy antibiotics over the counter, and we took a slue of OCD with us. I even bought an otoscope for looking in her ears and learned to use it! If you give your kids a well balanced diet, plenty of exercise, and some quality vitamins they are generally fine. Just keep a sharp eye out for anything weird, like easy bruising, or strange lumps… In recent reading I’ve found out that the care of our teeth actually has a lot to do with our health! So, I would suggest keeping up the dental visits and good oral hygiene. Anything you need on the road can be done at county health clinics. Just go first thing in the morning when they first open, before the crowds get there… And be ready with extra hot and soapy baths, as those places are generally junkie. Oh, and always, have friends who are nurses, they give some of the best advice, even if it is just by phone.

    • Stephanie

      Thank you for your excellent advice, Beth. Now I want to buy an otoscope (and learn how to use it)…good idea!

  • http://www.andreaythomas.blogspot.com andrea

    My son was born in the UK and we had well visits there as well, where there is no insurance so it isn’t trying to get extra money. I don’t mind them. I don’t think they cause any harm.

  • kristen

    I am struggling with this right now. We are due for our 4 month check-up, and I am still undecided about vaccines. Honestly, the reason I go is because I really like our pediatrician and it’s nice to visit (not the best environment, but it makes the visit a little better). I have skipped several for my son, knowing that he is perfectly healthy and not wanting to battle over why we aren’t doing a certain vaccine (altho, in my pediatrician’s defense, she is amazing and really supports our decision). It’s very counterintuitive. I am glad I am not the only one! :)
    And how is it giving an 18 month old shots? I dreamed about it last night (weird, I know), and it made me sooo sad. I don’t think it would go well here. He hasn’t had shots since 6 months??? I think…

    • Stephanie

      Actually, it wasn’t too bad. She screamed like crazy when they clipped her finger for the anemia test, but barely made any noise with the shot.

      I’m glad we only got one. And – I am SO grateful that her reaction was mild this time (just a slight fever…).

  • http://www.ourgreennest.blogspot.com Our Green Nest

    Our 2.5 year old hasn’t seen a pediatrician since she was 9 months old. We don’t vaccinate and have a very healthy child so we don’t have any reason to see one. We just see our wonderful holistic chiro at least once a month!

  • http://www.musingsofahousewife.com Musings of a Housewife

    You always make me think. And I feel the same way. We only got 2 of the recommended shots this time. I’ve never deferred before, but I didn’t like the idea of giving her 4 at once. The doc was fine with it. She’ll get the other 2 before she starts kindergarten next year.

    I feel like the walls are lined with propaganda. It’s the same at the pharmacy. EVERYTHING is about the FLU shot.

    I was in this week for a minor issue with my son, and the doc asked if I wanted to do flu shots since we were there. Um. NO.

  • http://www.babystam.blogspot.com Renee

    I know this might be a controversial topic for some, I’ll share what we do (we live in Canada so there is a few things that are different then the US)

    For our family this is what we think is best (not passing judgment on anybody)

    1. We get to the Doctor 2 weeks after baby is born to open a file (just in case that our kids do get sick in the futur they have a open file on the,)

    2. we do not vaccinate so therefore no need to go to any appointment unless they are sick!

    Our medical system work by the visit our health care pays our Doctor by the patients they see (it use to be payed by the hours regardless of the patient number, but since the change Doctors are eager to see more patient but give less services and listen less and give more med!!!!

    So in a way by not doing the well check to our Doctor we are saving tax money payers some money, we eat well, excessive and play outdoor, all our kiddos are thriving and in very good health :-)

  • http://thedrunkenhousewife1.blogspot.com Brandi

    We don’t vaccinate, so well baby checks are pretty much pointless. I take them anyway. It really is alot of work to get 3 kids to the doctor and get them all to behave by myself. I’ve come to dread these visits. To make matters worse, our deductable went up, so I get to pay almost $100 for these fun visits! Of the three children who go into the doctor’s office healthy and showing no symptoms of anything, one always leaves diagnosed with an ear infection and carrying a script for an antibiotic (which i never get filled).

  • Becca – Our Crazy Boys

    I don’t, and I always feel a little bad about it. But your post makes me feel better my decision.

    Well child visits have to be scheduled up to 6 months in advance at our dr., and I never know what we’ll be doing at that time. It seems that my kids are there every couple of months or so, so I’m not concerned about their “wellness.” And if they’re well, why would I bring them to the doctor’s office with all of the sick people?

  • http://collectivecents.blogspot.com/ LeaneG

    We did the ‘well’ visits for our son to check his weight and progress when he was an infant. At the visit where they did the first round of vaccines, I was heavily pressured to get them all done and I had originally gone intending to not do the shots. After being pressured into having them done, and then the way they were administered so harshly by the nurse, my son cried for about 30 minutes……and I cried for almost 2 hours! I didn’t go back! Something in my heart made me questions {and regret} the entire visit. Our son is now 3…..we keep him very clean and well-fed {and SUPER healthy}. We give him baths after play time at friends houses or any other time when he gets grimy during the day. We give him his regular bath every single night, also. I make sure to keep his ears clean with baby q-tips, brush his teeth each day, and I trim his nails regularly. I keep him well-fed and also give him a daily vitamin, which is a gummy so he thinks its a treat. When we are at the store, I make sure to wipe the cart down with the cleaning wipes. If necessary, we use hand sanitizer {or wash our hands}. BASICALLY, we use common sense and GOOD Hygiene, and CLEAN living to keep the whole family healthy. Our son is actually bigger, stronger and more active than children we know that are older than him that have been in ‘the system’ of doctors and vaccinations.
    I think every child is different, and some that are ‘sickly’ need more attention. I also believe that some mothers are not in tune with their child’s care and general health {sorry, it had to be said}! I see children that are dirty and unattended. I even have a friend who tends to NOT feed her children a decent diet….they get lots of soda, pizza, processed snack bars…….*ugh*……and, honestly these are the kids who are really sick all the time and seem to need the doctor visits constantly. At their home, they aren’t required to take baths and wash hands. These kids always have Ear infections, both of the kids had to have surgery to put tubes in their ears{because of so many infections}, and they are constantly on antibiotics/at the doctor! To me–it’s proof that daily lifestyle decisions {as a mother} affect the health and well-being of our children.

    This sounds condescending, but really, I don’t try to judge. We are still ‘friends’. Our kids still play together. {I make sure to ask if they are well before we visit} But, it does make me realize the effects that food quality, cleanliness, dental health and other decisions can play in a child’s life and health!

    Basically, I think that an occasional ‘well’ visit gives your doctor a chance to get to know your child when they are in their normal state. That way, when they see them for an illness, they can more easily recognize where/how/if a child is not right. So, in that way the ‘well’ visits can be beneficial.

    However, it seems that there are excessive ‘well’ visits recommended. It seems that the more you put your well child in with all the sick kids, they are more likely to catch something and get sick. It also seems that if they convinced every mother to be educated and in-tune with their children, then they would not have nearly as much business! In reality, even doctors offices are businesses {and they are run as such}! Every mother should understand that fact.
    GREAT POST!

  • http://thisthankfuljourney.blogspot.com Cyndi

    I do take my child to well visits, but that is because I have a pedatrician who lets parents decide what is best for their child and pressures us into nothing! She is also knowledgable about herbs and boosting the immune system naturally. I do like having a record of how my child is growing (not to compare to anyone, just for us to know and have). I also like building a relationship with his doctor in the event we need medical care at any point. That said, we are extremely careful in the waiting room. We don’t arrive a minute too early. There is a play room separate and designated for well children only, and our child has to this point never gotten sick after a doctor visit.
    If I hadn’t found this particular doctor, or one like her, I don’t think we would bother with the well child visits at all.

    • Joy

      This is me too. Actually, I couldn’t find a doctor I liked in KC and the kids got sick more when we lived there so I didn’t do them then. I don’t do the millions they want you to do for the baby but my doctor doesn’t even ask me to come that often. I think he saw her twice before she was 6 months and once since then. I view them more as once a year checkups. If we had the money I would see a n herbalist or naturopath instead.

    • Stephanie

      I love that your pediatrician is knowledgeable about “herbs and boosting the immune system naturally.” That is, sadly, quite uncommon. I would be more apt to go to “well visits” if they were more preventative in nature.

      Also – I like the idea of a separate room designated for well children. I’m curious if any studies have been done on the level of germs in each area (well area versus sick area). That would be fascinating!

  • http://www.barefootchildhood.com Madeline

    I do, but I wonder the very same thing each time. The reason I keep taking my kids though is that I like to have a good doctor who I trust available in case something does go wrong. Many pediatricians won’t see your child if they haven’t seen them for well visits.

  • http://www.nunnallyfamilyfun.blogspot.com Melissa

    Such great points you bring up. And all so true. Why is it we take our children to the doctor? I just switched Jake’s doctor and called to schedule his well check. But with his birthday being in October the office said they don’t do well checks from November to March so we could schedule for Spring. This will be 6 months after his “scheduled” time for a yearly well check. But there must be a reason they don’t do well checks during the high time of sickness and also leads me to believe that they really aren’t that important or necessary. And those growth charts are a big bunch of nothing but worry for the doctors. And there are several different charts & I learned that breastfed babies should be measured according to a different chart. I don’t really understand the reason for comparing every child to a particular curve.

  • http://themommyrambles.blogspot.com Alexia

    I used to take my boys for their well-child visits all the time and then I decided that it was a waste of my time. I really didn’t care where they were on the growth charts and I KNOW when something is wrong with them – even if it’s something small. We now only go for our pre-chosen vaccines or if they are ill…..which hasn’t happened in a loong time. We are all happier for it LOL

  • http://www.blacktating.com Elita @ Blacktating

    Well visits are important so that your child can get to know the doctor and that the doctor can get to know your kid at his normal, healthy state so that when he’s sick, the doctor knows the patient better. In the early weeks, it can be really important, especially to make sure that breastfeeding is going well (assuming you have a breastfeeding-friendly ped) and to answer any questions you may have as new parents (we had many…I think I called the office a few times in the early days, for silly things, because I was scared and wanted to make sure the baby was OK.)

    It just seems to me like only going to the doctor when sick makes it a more traumatic experience for the kid. And also, where I live, good luck getting a ped visit for a sick kid if you’re not already an established patient. If your insurance covers the well visits (and the last 3 different plans I have had did cover them, 100%) it seems strange not to take your kids.

    • Lisa

      I agree!

  • http://blog.annettelyon.com Annette L

    I did when they were younger–when they were growing fast and when there were developmental things I may or may not have known to look for or could recognize without an objective, outside (professional) eye.

    But after they hit the school years, they’ve been far fewer–as in, almost non-existent except for things like when Scout Camp requires a physical or whatever. I’m fine with that!

  • Sarah R

    I do take our son (21 months) to the Dr. for well visits. Insurance covers it 100%, the Dr. schedules all the “well” visits in the morning so all the other kids in the waiting room are healthy (if a sick kid comes in during that time, they get whisked to an exam room right away), and he doesn’t pressure me into any shots. If any of that changed, I wouldn’t take him unless he was sick or I had a concern. Our son has never been sick, so I haven’t had the “joy” of a sick visit!

  • http://jewelsandtreasures.blogspot.com/ Vanessa

    I just said this to my husband the other day. Why do we take them when they are healthy and we don’t vaccinate, or selective vaccinate?? I don’t know if we came to a conclusion except that our insurance covers it so why not?? Not really a good reason is it? I think I go just to make sure they are on track, even though the charts aren’t really my measurements. I know they are healthy and on track, so I’m not sure why I feel as if I need their chart to tell me that. Lots to think on…

  • Carrington

    Great post! Well, you know my opinion on the topic, but I wills say this- there are alternatives. Their are ND’s, herbalists, chiropractors ect, that can help support you on keeping your child healthy (and teach you lots of ways to do that), and they can also spot dangerous things that a Mama might miss (although, I think a mom that is intuitive and listening and watching cues and trusting herself, always KNOWS, but that’s just MY opinion) and refer you to a PED for further testing.

    I have found these visits with alternative doctors way more helpful in figuring out what my kid needs (not just checking their heart, breathing, and ears), and also- they don’t have a bunch of sick kids in their waiting room. ;) Or waiting rooms cleaned with tons of toxic chemicals to kill all the germs that come in their each day. :)

    • Stephanie

      I think we may research NDs in our area (thanks for the inspiration).

  • http://vicariouschelsea.com Chelsea

    I do take my kids, and we choose to vaccinate.
    I really like our pediatrician, and I love that my kids see their doctor as a “good guy” rather than just someone they see if they are sick. They don’t get sick often, but when they do at least seeing the doctor isn’t scary because they’ve been there well.
    Lilly also sees the pediatric cardiologist for checkups yearly. This is clearly for a different issue, but I like the fact that they are healthy and happy at the doctor more often than sick and miserable.
    That’s just me. Everyone and every family is different. It’s always neat to read different points of view!

  • http://thehomeschoolapologist.blogspot.com Linda

    My son is almost 7. He hasn’t had a well-baby checkup since he was 18 months. I gave up on them when my girls were little and got sick after nearly every doctor’s office visit!!

    Thanks for stopping by The Homeschool Apologist and leaving a comment! I loved your tribute to your mother and her decision to homeschool you! It made me hope that my kids will someday say the same of me!! (I didn’t take your comment as bragging at all…just words from a very grateful daughter!

    God bless!
    Linda

  • http://www.thefamilytrifecta.com Amy

    I love going for the well visits. It is a good time to have a positive doctor visit. That way, if we ever have to go when they are really sick, they already have a relationship with their doctor and are comfortable with them. Plus, I always like to hear how smart, strong, beautiful and healthy they are from a professional.

    • Csixberry

      I agree!

  • http://lukasandjessica.blogspot.com Jessica

    We are not into the ‘well visits’ I tend to think they are a waste of time and that I can just as easily track my son’s growth on a chart. He hasn’t been vaccinated for anything yet, though there are a few that we may end up doing once he is olded (he is 13 months). He has only been to 3 Dr. visits in his life. I am very uncomfortable taking a perfectly healthy child into an environment that I know is full of disease. It doesn’t seem to make sense. However, I stay home with him and am able to constantly monitor what is going on with him. We do have a peditrician for if I have any concerns but for the most part we try to just maintain a healthy lifestyle and take care of him naturally.

  • Csixberry

    Our doctor office has a sick side and a well side so that the sick kids don’t contaminate the well space and get healthy children sick. The well side is for kids who have physicals and shots or other things that don’t count as sick, like warts or something. I think that is good. I also think well visits are good, they might catch something wrong early on that might get worse if left alone. I found out my 3 year old has a heart murmur and they also are trained to observe and recognize things that a parent might not. They get their eyes and ears checked to make sure they don’t have problems there as well. Also this gives the parents a chance to ask about anything they might be concerned about and get expert advice or opinions. I know that many practices are just to make money and really useless but if your insurance covers it I think it is a good thing to do.

  • http://www.adventuresinbabywearing.com Adventures In Babywearing

    We don’t do well visits. I do usually have the kids be seen at least once a year or so, but Ivy was over 1 year old before she ever saw a doctor! (Which meant she was never “sick” enough – a far cry from how my first two (always well check ups, always in and out of the pediatrician’s office like a revolving door!) We have found for our family, we don’t need the doctor or hospital unless it’s an emergency. Kind of how it was originally supposed to be, I think!

    Steph

  • http://sillymommy2sillygirls.blogspot.com/ Noreen

    We take them for well visits because that is the only time we go. My girls rarely get sick enough to visit the doctor. In the last couple of years we have only been to the dr 3 times besides well check ups. My 7 year old had her first earache and antibotics the first time this year. My youngest did drop off the weight chart for a while but is back on. I never really worried about it but the doctors did (she had food allergies to dairy, soy and nuts at the time but has since out grown them.) I will say that last year my then 6 year old did not pass the eye chart exam. She almost did but not quite. We took her to the eye dr and she does have astimatisim (no idea how to spell that) but not enough to warrent glasses at this time. We just make sure her teacher has her sit in the front of the classroom. Even if a child is healthy it is a good idea to have a baseline of health in case something is wrong in the future. Plus a dr might catch something before it becomes serious.

  • http://www.welcometomarriedlife.com Krista

    Such interesting comments! We do well visits, half because we use the spread out vaccine schedule so it gives us the opportunity to get them done as well (we do plan to travel internationally and I don’t want to wait until 6 months before we’re going and have my kids get 15 shots at that time). The other reason is I think a broader one.

    How many adults do you know who would actually benefit from going to the doctor at least once in awhile? And many refuse to go? A lot that I know! I think perhaps they are trying to get us in the habit of checking on things once in awhile, just like the dentist. Perhaps their schedule is more frequent than absolutely necessary, but I do think that talking to a professional at least every couple of years about your overall health is a good idea! Of course that means you have to be honest as well as give their advice a listen!
    And, I’ve never had my kids get sick from going to the doctor either and the only extra precaution we take is washing hands afterwards.

  • http://www.culturemami.com Marcela

    I am on and off with well visits. My oldest hadn’t been in two years, but when we took him, we found out he had vision problems. We hadn’t noticed it at home because he is far sighted (rare) and could read just fine and never sat that far away in class to not be able to see things on the board.

    That said I haven’t taken Audrey for her 2 year old “well” visit…she is almost 2 1/2.

    I think atleast once a year is good ? I also am on and off with vaccines. Some we do, some we don’t.

    Great post…as always.

  • http://www.pregnantwithnumber2.blogspot.com Alyssa

    We have discovered that the more we stay away from a doctor, the healthier we tend to be. I took my daughter to all the recommended appointments for a few months and then questioned why we were bringing our perfectly healthy doctor to the doctor. Doctors are for sick people. We decided that “well-visits” were basically another way for them to make money off our child so we quit going. I can check my daughters weight & height at home. I know her better than anyone else and if something is wrong, I’ll be the first to notice and take appropriate action. I’ll save the doctor visits for when she truly might need them. Needless to say, she’s never once been to the doctor for illness and she’s only been sick maybe 2 times and it was extremely low-key & quick to recovery. Anyways, it just doesn’t make sense to take a healthy child to a place infested with fresh germs! Great blog, always love reading it!

  • http://MamanADroit.typepad.com MamanADroit

    We do well visits. I figure it’s like all those stupid ob visits where all they do is weigh you and you pee in a cup and they listen to the baby’s heart. They are mostly pointless, but on the off-chance there is actually anything wrong I want to catch it as early as possible. We do some vaccines too so we do them then. We don’t let him play with the toys in there, which is frustrating. I wish they didn’t have toys & books at all! Germ factory!

    • Stephanie

      I actually skipped several of the traditional prenatal appointments with my 2nd pregnancy. I would just call up and say, “I’m perfectly healthy. My weight gain is on-target. My blood pressure is XYZ. Can I come in next month?” And the birth center was okay with that!

      Have I mentioned how much I loved my birth center experience? I really, really, really did. :)

  • Amy M

    Yes, we take our children. Aside from charting and vaccines, it’s a time to talk to a professional about all of those other little questions you may have. In the fall, my daughter’s excema acts up….her feet are a little turned in (as it turns out, many professional runners have that too….) and whatever other little questions you have! We seldom go to the doctor otherwise so it’s an opportunity to talk about the health of our children. Keep in mind, I love our doctor so I look forward to our visits and our chat about our children.

    As for the “germ factory”, I know our clinic takes great care to keep it clean. Does your local grocery store do the same? Keep in mind, all those sick people are probably heading to the pharmacy to fill their rx…..

    • Stephanie

      True! If I had it my way, I wouldn’t shop at grocery stores at all. I’d much prefer to shop solely at local farms & markets, wouldn’t you? :)

  • CasualFridayEveryDay

    Well visits, for us, are a waste of time and money. We delay vaccines, so we just go in when it’s time to get the few we want. And that isn’t until 3 years of age.

    Nell

  • Kirsten

    Considering how many sick kids there are in the waiting room, no. Yearly checkups are fine but some of these other visits they want you in for are excessive. JMO.

  • Carrington

    Just saw this article- they are recommending all peds stop using the CDC growth chart for breastfed babies, and use the WHO chart…. http://thestir.cafemom.com/baby/109320/doctors_choose_breast_over_formula

    Very similar to your experience!

    • Stephanie

      Our pediatrician knew about that recommendation (that is why he showed us both charts). :) I’m glad that the WHO chart will now be concerned the standard. Even with that chart, however, it’s important for doctors and parents to remember that each child is an individual.

  • Nancy S.

    Those growth charts are the enemy of breastfeeding. I can’t tell you how many breastfeeding moms are sent into a panic and bullied into formula b/c they aren’t where they need to be on a chart designed for formula fed babies.

    I feel exactly the same as you do about well child visits…for all the same reasons you do.

  • http://www.musesofmegret.com Megret

    Though I hate to do it when I know that there are lots of bugs going around (our sick and well waiting rooms aren’t really well divided or separated), we usually do. Our kids are rarely sick, so this past year, it had been a year since they’d even set foot in there. Since that meant they were a year overdue for height and weight checks (ours have both always been on the low/slight side), I figured it was worth some peace of mind.

    Plus, our pediatrician is a professed Christian and speaks very openly about his faith. He has given us great advice from day one (in the hospital room) about raising our kids in a Godly way, discipline, safety, even schooling questions. He’s pro-breastfeeding, as well, so that was helpful at the beginning. He spends almost a full hour with his patients at well visits, something I know is very rare. We appreciate the time and attention and count ourselves lucky!

  • http://abundantlyblessed-kingfamily.blogspot.com/ Amber King

    My son, who is 2, has never been to the doctors except when he was eight days old for his circumcision. My girls, only for the major medical issues I can not take care of my self. None of my kidos are vaccinated, but we will get a couple of them because of my husbands profession. Better safe then sorry.

  • Abbi

    We don’t do well child visits. I don’t vaccinate so it seemed a bit pointless and there was a lot of pressure that I didn’t feel like dealing with for vaccinations. I do read up on health and medical things some and have other family members that are pretty knowledgeable so if I have questions I do research or ask them questions.
    I also have taken them to a very knowledgeable chiropractor some.

  • http://www.StringbeanCompany.com Soni A.

    I love the conversation going on here – great post Stephanie! The biggest thing for me is healthy kid in a “sick place”. It just doesn’t feel right. I do well child visits, but not regularly. If I have some concerns or need papers for travel, etc…I’ll save up all my concerns and take my kids all at once and they call it a well-child visit. But we certainly don’t go regularly. Our diet is very clean and healthy and my kids are obviously thriving (more than thriving) so there is no need for poking and prodding and questions about why I do this, that and the other. On a funny note, our pedi is a doc to several celebrity clients (which I didn’t know until after we starting going there – he was recommended by my midwife). The last time we were in the office my baby boy got lots of goo-goo talk and kissy-faces from Pamela Anderson – ha!

  • http://www.swonderland.net Erin

    I like well visits. On the off chance that there is something wrong with my child’s hips or spine or something else that I may not notice myself, I like having them checked out. I like my pediatrician to meet my happy healthy kids so he has a baseline idea of what they are like and the kids are comfortable with him. I also really like having the chance to talk over my minor concerns (really minor, like “she has a weird bump on her head” or “he wakes up saying he is hungry even after he ate a big dinner…”) all at once without feeling silly, calling in, or making special trips. Oh, and my ped doesn’t routinely tell me what my kids are on the chart so I always ask. I know it doesn’t mean anything but I do think it’s interesting! :)

    • Stephanie

      I think the information is interesting too (I’m a graphs and data girl all the way!). :) That said, I don’t like it when the chart information is used to try to convince breastfeeding moms to “fatten their babies up with formula” (sadly, that is a common occurrence).

  • http://www.colorado-mama.blogspot.com Tiffany

    I hate well visits and I think they are a HUGE waste of time. I know better than any doctor how my kids are doing. I remember taking Lily to her 1 year appt and the doctor was nervous about her not walking yet! My other child did not walk until 13 months so why worry about Lily. The doctor said that it was something to watch and I made the comment that my older child did not start walking until 13 months so I am not worried. It is a good thing that I already had one kid because if not I would have been worried. Doctors think kids should do everything by the book and if they do not then it is something to worry about.

    The only reason that my kids go in for well visits is that they are in daycare and I have to have the doctor fill out a form every year – but we do not go on schedule – only when I need that form filled out.

    • Stephanie

      Our littlest didn’t start walking until she was 15 months old! Now she runs everywhere (and she’s in the pink of health). :)

  • http://keepingupwiththejohnson5.blogspot.com/ kris

    I take my girls in for the well visits, simply because I really need too. My older daughter has kidney issues, but her VUR is so bad, that she can have a horrible bladder infection and give NO outward signs of it, no fever, no hurting, etc. So she goes in twice a year just to make sure all is well there. If she didn’t only have one good kidney, I wouldn’t worry.

    Both of my younger to girls have growth issues. I don’t care where they fall on the chart, but when my baby hasn’t gained an ounce in 6 months, I do get a little worried.

    For your children, or others with very healthy children, I don’t really see the need for the visits.

    Make any sense?

  • http://www.kristinmevans.wordpress.com Kristin Evans

    Over here in South Africa, we have a Well-Baby Clinic that our ped even suggested we take our baby to. It’s run by a nurse, who also taught our pre-natal class and we liked a lot. She does all the height and weight and development checks, answers any of our questions and will give vaccines. The best thing is she ONLY sees healthy babies for the express purpose of keeping your baby healthy as well. I remember having a conversation with her in the beginning about how crazy it was to take a healthy baby to a sick room waiting area at a doctors office. I didn’t like that idea at all, but I love going to her clinic. They should have those over in the US!

  • Wehaf

    Five confirmed cases of whooping cough in California? Well, you’re only off by three orders of magnitude; this year there have been over 4000 already – a record. Nine children too young to have been vaccinated have died from the lack of herd immunity.

    • Wehaf

      Interesting. I’d been wavering on your blog for a while, but I think this tells me all I need to know.

  • Anne

    Interesting post. I totally understand the irritation in the growth charts – they can be fodder for unpleasant parent competition – but the US has an obesity epidemic and these growth charts can indicate to the doctor that the child is gaining too much weight and offer parents some education about eating habits etc… And yes, there is irony in taking a “well” child to a doctor’s office where germs abound and sick children cough without covering their mouths. But…I will always take my children to the doctor for their annual well checks and their vaccines. There are various silent problems that well checks can pick up on – high blood pressure (yes children can have high blood pressure), for example, that are simply too dangerous to risk. These silent health issues are far more dangerous than picking up a cold or the flu, even. And schools, particularly in the younger years, are pretty much petri dishes for every kind of contagion out there! Stomach flus, colds, flus, pink eye etc… My guess is a classroom would be worse than a doctor’s office.

  • Rena

    Absolutely – For our family well baby visits are a must. I may be alone here, but I believe the medical profession has gotten a pretty bad rap based on the actions of a few. There really are still doctors out there who work hard to provide exceptionally great care!
    First, I LOVE my pediatrician and her nursing and reception staff. Our doc. is kind, warm, loving, understanding, patient, extremely knowledgeable, up to date, and trustworthy. Second, IF something is wrong with my children, there is a better chance of catching it early and working on fixing it earlier rather than later. Third, we are adamant believers in the “gift” of immunizations – possibility of polio vs. a shot… most definitely not a tough call for us! Our kids are now at that point where they don’t need any more immunizations until they are 11. They made it through all immunizations on schedule, and they are and were fine. Yes, I gave them Tylenol to ease their pain, but thus far they have had no adverse reaction, even on days when they got 3 or 4 shots at once. Sure it hurts. So do those shots for numbing my mouth when I need a filling, but I’ll take the numbing shot over the pain without it. The same goes for my kids. I’ll let them experience the pain of the shot versus the pain of those HORRIBLE disease possibilities! Fourth, so many people these days “hate” going to the doctor. I want my kids to know that there are professionals with COUNTLESS hours of schooling who know more about physiology than their mother, and that they can trust their doctor. On the chance that there is ever something (say in their teenage years) that they don’t want to share with their mom (heaven forbid – the thought actually scares me), I want them to know a doctor they can turn to. Fifth, they get to choose a book on their well baby visits – how fun! Sixth, I feel comfort knowing that they were issued a clean bill of health from a medical professional I trust. Seventh, I enjoy having that yearly discussion with their doctor regarding issues where I may be concerned – IE – my older daughter seems to be getting a little rolly, not bad, but enough that I noticed. While she is fine according to the charts (for the record I feel the same way you do about those charts), I wanted to ask if I should be concerned. It was just reassuring to know that these phases are normal. Yeah, I already knew it, but the reassurance alone was worth the visit!
    I’m sure if I sat here longer, I could come up with numerous more reasons for these regular visits, but I’ll spare you and the rest of your readers. My children have NEVER missed a well baby visit. I am further grateful for an insurance company that covers 100% of “preventive” appointments, but before they did, my $20 copay was completely worth it. Thanks for the opportunity to “speak my mind.” As always, it was fun!

    • Wehaf

      I want my kids to know that there are professionals with COUNTLESS hours of schooling who know more about physiology than their mother

      This is so very, very important; thank you for putting it out there. I hate the attitude that “mothers always know”. No, they don’t. Medical professionals go through years of training for a reason; if mothers always knew there would be no need for medical schools.

    • Catherine Wilke

      Thank goodness! Voice of reason, I could not have said it better myself. There are many things that happen at check ups in addition to the vital immunizations, and without the proper tools no well meaning parent can accomplish them at home. In addition, by bringing kids to check ups you are teaching them to be responsible for maintaining health, and to trust the people working to help them reach this goal.

  • Christine Jensen

    I do find Well visits to be good for my children. I use it as an opportunity to discuss health issues that have concerned me over the past year (my children have had growth problems in the past as well as two of my boys being pretty obviously ADHD,). I find that going in when my children are well helps me to have an open conversation with the Dr about my children’s health and development without the distraction of a current illness.

  • Laura P

    I do NOT think well child visits are a waste of time. It is really, really important to regularly note things such as height, weight, BP,etc to establish a baseline for the person. This can be crucial to diagnosing and/or recognizing problems.

  • Marie R.

    Thanks for this post. We just took our 3 y.o. Zoey in and she had not been since she was 15months for a well child check. This is our choice as parents I wanted to delay vaccines and she has been very healthy thus far. I am glad to hear other parents debate over the neccesity of these visits. I prayed the whole time about the vaccines they make me so nervous and I have read all the info.

  • Anna

    i appreciate your down-to-earth thoughts on this. When we started our parenting adventure, we were typical medical model parents. Not so much anymore on baby number 3. It is always so reassuring to read/hear about other parents that choose to make educated decisions about how their children are cared for in regards to the doctor. I just get sick when I hear about parents not feeling like they have a say in how it should be done, or not feeling like they need to use their own brain and heart in making medical decisions for their children.

    I, also, have a youngest child that is falling off the CDC chart. Thanks for the link to the WHO chart, i hadn’t even thought about consulting another one. Looking at our daughter, we see that she is healthy and thriving and doing wonderfully, but then that darn chart comes into play and freaks some people out. I like the WHO one better. ;)

  • Heidi

    Argh! I feel the same way.

  • Courtney

    I feel the same way! We usually don’t do the well visits. Some, but not on the crazy schedule they have set up. Once we stopped vaccinating (or rather started selectively vaccinating), we saw no point to do all the visits. The growth charts are based on formula-fed babies, and formula and breastmilk are “apples to oranges”. I’ve always found the whole comparing baby weight thing odd myself. I believe in preventing disease with proper nutrition, so if doctors took this approach well visits would be a good idea, but I left my child’s last well visit completely and utterly frustrated because not one word was mentioned about nutrition!!! We spent a good 20 min. on vaccines, as usual, but not a word was spoken about nutrition. We also bathe our little ones when we get home. :)

    • Stephanie

      Good point about nutrition, Courtney! So many childhood (and adult) illnesses can be cured with proper diet, regular exercise, and adequate rest.

  • http://adventuresofjulia.blogspot.com Julia

    I have a 11 week old baby who has been to the first two well check-ups and both times I sit and cringe the whole time wondering which of the diseases in that waiting room we are going to come out with… Not sure when we will go back at this point, maybe early spring after sick season is gone?? (of course that is assuming he doesn’t get really sick between now and then).

    we do go to a chiropractor regularly who has already helped us through several issues without having to have meds. I do not believe that all Docs are bad, or that they should be avoided… however, I do have concerns with some of the over medicating of our culture. We are trying a preventative approach at this point – knowing that the Doctor will be there when we need him. We do have a great relationship with our doc….

    We are also undecided on the vaccinations… sure does seem like a whole lot of risk for a highly overestimated and overstated amount of benefit to me right now… Making the best decisions for your kid can be a tough place!

  • Michelle

    I give my daughter a bath right away when she comes home from preschool, you can only imagine how fast she gets in the tub after the doctors office!

    I sound very similar to you. I skipped some of my daughter/s well visits, no, not a bad mom. Vaccines freak me out and we are very selective about the ones my daughters get. My youngest had a very serious reaction to the MMR when she was 18 months that would have scared any mother away from vaccines. Our doctors are not very supportive of our decision, but I am my children’s biggest advocate, so I stand up for them.

  • http://tonicreatesart.wordpress.com Toni

    We started out doing them with our oldest child, but after 8 of them, we just stopped doing them along the way. We had to fight about vaccinations even after our 2nd child had reactions to them. It wasn’t worth it. The one time I took my youngest in to establish care with a practice they swore she had a thyroid problem because they thought she wasn’t growing. Based on a single visit! I told them the growth pattern in our family and that my side of the family had small people. My youngest fit the growth pattern perfectly. They didn’t want to believe me and kept calling me at home to harass me. I never went back. Surprisingly, my youngest has continued to grow just fine. She is active, getting taller, and very verbal (she’s almost 4 now… this happened when she was 18 mos old).

    We allow our kids to play in the dirt and with animals. They develop a strong immune system from these casual brushes with various forms of bacteria and such. They get sick a few times a year (hubby is a school bus driver, so brings home all sorts of nasties despite washing frequently and wiping down his bus), but it is usually over in 24 hours.

  • http://mommyblawg.blogspot.com The Mommy Blawger

    My husband objected to paying $80 per child to find out how much they weigh. Although I do see some value in having a relationship established with a doctor in advance, just in case they get sick or have a problem, we usually skip most of the well-baby/well-child exams.

  • Kristi C

    I do take my children in for the well visits. However, we do not get the flu shots. My older children have been to the doctor for sick visits but my four year old has never been sick.

  • http://activerain.com/blogs/mymirela Mirela Monte

    I gave birth at home to both of my kids. I did selective vaccinations with my first born and NO vaccinations with my second child.

    My second child was a lot healthier. I did not do the “well visits” with my second child at all, and by the time my first born was about 18 months, I stopped vaccinating entirely and stopped going to the doctor for the “well visits”. I actually stopped going to the doctor, period, since my child was never sick after that… I don’t trust the medical establishment in this country. Too many issues and too cozy of a relationship with Big Pharma…

    Most people don’t know that you DON’T have to vaccinate your kids to enroll them in public schools. Here are the waivers necessary in order to exempt them from vaccinations (you can use these if you want to just stick to YOUR schedule of vaccinations, instead of the required ones; many parents are deciding to just delay vaccinations, pick and choose among the vaccines and change the schedule for vaccinations):
    VACCINE EXEMPTION FORMS:
    http://preventdisease.com/news/09/100809_vaccine_exemption_forms.shtml

    Both of my kids are now grown and doing very well. I know I’ve made the right decision!

    Mirela Monte

  • terry

    CAUTION!

    My children were all taken away from me, because a dr. who saw my child was convinced that it was neglectful of me not to take my kid to well baby visits, and AFTER releasing me, called CPS and claimed I refused to bring my kid back to the dr. for follow up. Her name is Dr. Claudia Wang and I will be suing UCLA Medical hospital in LA for this atrocity. However, after successfully proving that she lied and she got impeached by her own medical record the judge is still ready to convict me for “creating” a medical neglect for not going for (optional) well baby visits so the dr. could have charted my son’s growth pattern. My son is short (vegeterians grow slower people in Europe seem to know this, here in the US it seems if your kid does not fit on the growth chart that is now by the CDC REVOKEd and the WHO chart is recommended on which my child’s weight is perfectly fine)
    SO this judge is setting the precedent that healthy children are being ,edically neglected by parents for not going to well baby visits. I am a Adventist and believe in Ellen Whites NEW START which means that I am more worried what I put into my child and what my child does (rst, exercise, sunshine) then going to a dr. to hear him or her say what exactly? A dr. is not a health booster, he is just supposed to express what he sees and I can see that myself. Anything wrong with your child as an attentive mother you will catch that before anyone. My son is healthy and incredibly bright and active and so charming. Another dr. in the meantime attested to that, however, it seems, that none of it matters since these people at UCLA are the head of a scan team and they make money by the government by finding and fishing for neglected children.
    When I was in the hospital with the dr. some government lady came and told me to sign this so the government will pay for all kinds of tests and procedures I did NOT sign it and got very suspicious of this strange obsession to have my healthy child treated when evaluated by the wrong growth chart as cdc weight for age is drastically different than weight for height on the WHO chart. On top of that, they measured them incorrectly at 7.5 kg and 73.8cm versus the actual 7.9kg and 70cm he was measured as at a follow up measurement which l insisted on as I knew this was wrong. So have a well baby visit to have incompetent dr.s measure wrong and look for sth where there is nth.
    ALl my three children were taken from me, because I do not believe by my faith in well baby visits but in active healthy lifestyle. I am not against people going to those visits, but my understanding is that a healthy lifestyle is better than any dr. and as a matter of fact eliminates the need for check ups, but rather dr.s are good for when there are actual symptoms of sickness. This is happening in the family court in Monterey Park, CA.

  • Lana Leigh Wilkens Art

    I took my first two every time. I took my third into the midwife at 2 days, and to the pediatrician at 6weeks. I got all her vaccinations at the health dept for free and never saw the doctor again (she is now 21 mo) but, we have her on their radar if she does need a sick visit. my fourth child will be the same, except I didn’t take him at 6 weeks. he will go to the urgent clinic near our house if he gets sick – it costs the same as the pediatricians office, but without the lectures and disapproving looks. that’s gotta count for something! :)