Well-child visits are essential for delivering preventive care for children. As a matter of fact, they are so important that the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that pediatricians continue to see children for well-child visits during the pandemic, so they get important vaccinations and screenings for developmental and learning milestones.
They also provide an opportunity for pediatricians to help patients and their parents with strategies for dealing with the pandemic. Here are some of the pandemic-related concerns pediatricians can discuss during well-child visits.
Should My Child Go to School?
Parents and kids have gone through a lot of transition in schooling since the start of the pandemic. Parents may have concerns and questions about the safety of schools for children. Pediatricians can address those concerns and help parents to make smart decisions for their children.
Should My Child Wear a Mask?
The research continues to show that masks are an effective step to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. However, some children may have health concerns, like asthma, that make mask-wearing challenging. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that cloth face coverings should not be placed on children under age 2. Pediatricians can help parents and kids sort through what the right approach is for their health.
Are Playdates and Sports Okay?
It can be confusing to figure out how to balance a child’s social development by reducing the risk of contracting COVID-19. Pediatricians can provide guidelines that help parents make wise decisions, like looking at group size, the location of the event (indoor vs. outdoor), and the activities involved.
How Can We Stay Safe?
The basics – social distancing, hand washing, and avoiding touching your face – are simple to teach an adult, but more challenging to teach a child. Pediatricians can help by offering tips to teach kids these important behaviors to keep everyone healthy. For example, telling a child to keep six feet of distance may be hard for them to understand. Instead, try saying, “if you are close enough to touch someone, you are too close.”
What Should We Do if Our Child is Sick?
It is still confusing to understand when to get tested, who should get tested, how to get tested, and what to do in the meantime while waiting for results. The well-child visit is a perfect time to clear up any confusion.
How Can I Help My Child Cope with Stress?
This is a stressful time for everyone, and children can absorb stress in their home environment. Pediatricians can offer a safe place for parents and kids to express their anxiety and can offer coping skills and referrals to mental health services if necessary.
Finally, the pandemic has had an impact on income stability for many. The CDC lists economic stability as one of the social determinants of health. Pediatricians should consider how they can screen for problems – Does the family have enough to eat? Do they have a safe place to live? – and offer referrals to social service agencies that can help.