How Often Does My Child Need a Physical Exam?

How Often Does My Child Need a Physical Exam?

Childhood is a time of tremendous growth and change, physically, emotionally, and developmentally. Having regular physical exams is one of the best ways you can help your child stay healthy throughout their childhood — but just how often does your child need to have an exam?

The team at Nevada Pediatric Specialists in Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada, recommends physical exams based on both the guidelines set by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) as well as each child’s individual health factors.

Here’s how to tell when your child needs a checkup to stay healthy and happy throughout their years of growth and development.

Recommended frequency of childhood physical exams

As an adult, having an annual physical can help you stay healthy, but you might be able to have exams a little less frequently, depending on your health history. Kids need to see a doctor more frequently to ensure they remain on track with their growth and development.

The AAP offers a list of recommended ages for childhood exams, making it easier to ensure your child gets the preventive care they need to stay healthy. Once your child reaches age 3, the recommendation is straightforward: Get a physical on an annual basis. For younger kids, exams should occur more frequently — specifically at 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 24, 30, and 36 months. 

The reason infants require exams every few months is simple: While your child grows throughout their childhood and teen years, they undergo a period of very rapid development during the first 36 months of life. Having frequent exams during this period is important for identifying potential problems early so they can be treated or even prevented.

In addition to these recommended physical exams, some kids might need more frequent exams based on their specific medical needs. They also might need additional physicals for school or for sports participation.

What to expect during a physical exam

Physicals for kids include a lot of the same steps as your own physical exam, including measuring blood pressure and weight, listening to heart and lungs, checking eyes and ears, and reviewing your child’s medical history. But some parts of a childhood physical exam are different, too.

Your child’s pediatrician will check their physical growth, including joints and reflexes, and compare their development with guidelines to identify potential issues. The doctor will assess your child’s emotional and social development, as well, checking for potential learning disabilities, anxiety, or depression and asking about problems interacting with peers or at school.

Regular wellness child visits also ensure your child receives important medical screenings, lab testing, and vaccines to help them avoid serious illness. They also give our team a chance to teach your child about healthy behaviors that can enrich their childhood and help them avoid future medical problems.

If your child seems fine, you might think it’s OK to skip an annual exam, but don’t be fooled: Annual physicals are still necessary to track your child’s development and growth and to look for subtle signs of medical conditions that need early treatment. They’re also a great time for you or your child to ask questions and discuss concerns.

Schedule your child’s next exam

Pediatric exams are based on keeping your child healthy, but they’re also about setting the stage for a healthy adulthood. Regular medical care is one of the most important ways you can help your child thrive, especially when that care is provided by a skilled team and tailored to your child’s specific needs.

As a top-rated pediatrics practice, Nevada Pediatric Specialists is dedicated to helping kids lead their healthiest lives. To learn how we can play a role in your child’s healthy future, call 702-457-5437 or book an appointment online today.

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