What's a Well-Child Exam?

“They grow up so fast.” While this saying is often rooted in nostalgia, it’s also true. Most of the physical growth you experience happens in your first 18 years, when you go from a newborn to an adult. Consider this — the average American lives to be 78.6 but has completed the vast majority of their development by the end of puberty, which is around 14 for girls and 15-16 for boys.

Well-child exams help parents and pediatricians keep track of children’s growth and development throughout the years. These exams should be conducted throughout the first 18-21 years of your child’s life, with a focus on the first two years of life. Just like a well-woman or well-male exam, these appointments are a chance to make sure that everything is working properly while also providing a look toward future health issues and obstacles.

When was your child’s last exam? If it’s been a while, Patrick County Family Practice can help. With a full staff of doctors, nurses, and physicians’ assistants, we’ll work with you to make sure your child gets the care they need. We offer annual wellness visits for adults so that you can stay healthy, too.

When do well-child exams occur?

Well-child exams happen throughout childhood but are concentrated on the first two years of life. As your child gets older, well-child exams will become more like a yearly physical, which are often required for participation in sports, school, and other activities. The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) recommends the following schedule:

After the visit at 3 years old, well-child exams will become yearly. While many stop the exams at 18, AAP recommends well-child visits until 21 years old.

Tracking growth and development

Throughout childhood, your kid with go through spurts of growth and development. A well-child visit helps you and your pediatrician track height and weight as your child grows. In addition to placing your child in a percentile range for both categories, height and weight tracking can also help identify any issues or problems related to overall development.

This is also a time to discuss milestones and learning. For example, a child should respond to their name around 6 months old and should also have basic hand-eye coordination. A 4-year-old should be able to have normal social interactions with other children and should have a handle of crude writing skills.


Vaccines keep your child healthy and help them fend off many diseases. The CDC provides a helpful list of the vaccines recommended throughout childhood. The first few years lay the groundwork for the body’s immune system, with the last few shots recommended before a child turns 13. After that, it should just be boosters or vaccines needed for travel outside the United States.

A team approach

At Patrick County Family Practice, our doctors only see your child during well-child exams and visits for illness. You spend much more time with your child and may be aware of issues that your doctor won’t discover over the course of the exam. With this in mind, use the well-child exam as a time to ask questions and discuss areas of concern. Potential topics for discussion include development, behavior, sleep, eating, and familial relationships. Let our doctors be a resource to you throughout your child’s life.

To schedule your kid’s next well-child exam at either of our Stuart offices, call or request an appointment online

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