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2024 Feb

Types of Pediatric Visits

Prepare in advance for your child’s next visit to the pediatrician.

There are distinct types of pediatric healthcare visits. It is vital to know the difference when calling to schedule the visit. Different visits require different amounts of time and different activities. This article can help you request the type of visit that you need, better prepare, shorten your wait time, and get your questions appropriately answered.

Well Visits

Well visits include monitoring of growth, development, and nutrition. These are scheduled for newborns at birth, 1 week, 2 weeks, and 1 month of life. Infant visits occur at 2, 4, 6, 9, and 12 months. Toddler visits are scheduled at 15, 18, 24, 30, and 36 months. Yearly visits are recommended after the age of 3 years. Public school children require a pre-kindergarten visit (ages 4-5 years) and a pre-middle school visit (ages 11-12 years). Be sure to schedule these well visits 3 months beforehand to get the appointment, location, and provider that works best for you.

Dental Visits

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends routine dental examinations every 6 months starting at 12 months of age. Before that first dental exam, your pediatric healthcare provider will offer fluoride varnish during the well exam to decrease cavities beginning at 6 months of age. A pediatric dentist sees children younger than 3 years-of-age. Your family dentist will see patients after age 3. Proper dental care is necessary for good health.

Sports Physicals

Sports exams are required prior to participation in sporting activities. As these exams differ from the well visit, schedule these well in advance of any sports tryouts or participation. Bring any necessary forms with you. You may choose to coordinate the sports physical during the well exam, but please mention this both when you schedule and when you arrive. Dress your child comfortably as they may need to bend, squat, duck walk, and stretch to demonstrate participation readiness.

Concerns that may warrant further investigation before completion of the sports physical form include past medical history of fainting or chest pain with exercise, as well as family history of sudden death at a young age (<55 years) or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Bring your child’s medication and allergy list as well.

Sick Visits

Sick visits are visits that occur between the well visits when your child is ill or has a specific problem. These visits are usually shorter in length than well visits and are usually scheduled for the same day or the next day. Common sick visits include complaints such as ear pain, runny nose, cough, sore throat, or skin rash. If your child has more complex issues such as prolonged headaches, abdominal pain, or behavioral issues, be sure to request additional time with the provider when you speak to the receptionist. If your provider is unable to see your sick child, consider if the concern requires urgent care or emergency care.

In a Hurry?

Let’s face it, parenting is a marathon rather than a sprint, but some days move quickly. As a working mom, I get it. There are times you just need to get in and get out. If time is of the essence, be sure to schedule your appointment either first thing in the morning, or right after lunch. The first 2-3 appointments of the morning and the first 2-3 after lunch tend to run on time. Unfortunately, if patients are late or the visits are complex (taking more time than expected), providers can get behind. This is quite a common occurrence. So, if you need to get in and out quickly, schedule the visit early in the morning or early in the afternoon. The sooner you schedule the visit, the more options you will have in choosing your appointment.

There are also providers who tend to run more “on time” than others who may take more time with parents. The front desk can usually identify those providers who can get you in and out quickly. Alternatively, you may choose to wait and see a favorite provider who will spend a bit more time with you and your child.

Before You Go

A day or two before the visit, take some time to sit down and really think about what you need to accomplish. Write down any particular concerns. Bring a list of your child’s current medications with the dosages to request refills. If your child needs medication at school (like an inhaler or EpiPen), bring the school medication form. Bring any sports or camp forms. Consider your child’s eating/nutrition, sleep patterns, urination/stooling, behavior, educational concerns, friendships, development, and activity level. If there is an issue, the earlier it is identified and treated, the better.

Sometimes simple reassurance is the best medicine.

By requesting the correct type of pediatric visit, you will be sure to get the best care for your child and avoid any miscommunication.

*Disclaimer: This information is only for educational purposes and should not be used as a substitute for medical care. The reader assumes full responsibility for the utilization of the information provided. Please reach out to your pediatric healthcare provider with any questions.

Melanie J. Wilhelm, DNP, CPNP

Dr. Melanie J. Wilhelm, DNP, CPNP, is a Doctor of Nursing Practice, and a Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner as well as core faculty member at Walden University. Her book, Raising Today’s Baby: Second Edition, is available on


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