The Basics: Overview
Children ages 5 to 10 need to go to the doctor or nurse for a “well-child visit” once a year.
A well-child visit is when you take your child to the doctor for a full checkup to make sure he is healthy and developing normally. This is different from other visits for sickness or injury.
At a well-child visit, the doctor or nurse can help catch any problems early, when they may be easier to treat. You will also have a chance to ask any questions you may have about your child’s behavior or development.
To make the most of your child’s visit:
- Gather important information
- Make a list of questions for the doctor
- Know what to expect from the visit
What about cost?
Under the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law passed in 2010, insurance plans must cover well-child visits. Depending on your insurance plan, your child may be able to get well-child checkups at no cost to you. Check with your insurance company to learn more.
The Basics: Child Development
How do I know if my child is growing and developing on schedule?
Your child’s doctor or nurse can help you identify “developmental milestones,” the new skills that children usually develop by a certain age. This is an important part of the well-child visit.
Developmental milestones for children ages 5 to 10 include physical, learning, and social skills – things like:
- Developing skills for success in school (like listening, paying attention, reading, and math)
- Taking care of their bodies without help (like bathing, brushing teeth, and getting dressed)
- Learning from mistakes or failures and trying again
- Helping with simple chores
- Following family rules
- Developing friendships and getting along with other children
- Participating in activities like school clubs, sports teams, or music lessons
See a complete list of developmental milestones for kids who are:
Take Action: Get Ready
Take these steps to help you and your child get the most out of well-child visits.
Gather important information.
Take any medical records you have to the appointment, including a record of shots your child has received. If your child gets special services at school because of a health condition or disability, bring that paperwork, too.
Make a list of any important changes in your child’s life since the last doctor’s visit, like a:
- New brother or sister
- Serious illness or death of a friend or family member
- New school or a move to a new neighborhood
Use this tool to keep track of your child’s family health history.
Help your child get more involved in doctor visits.
When children are age 7 or older, most doctors will spend a few minutes alone with them – if the child feels comfortable. This helps your child develop a relationship with the doctor.
You can also help your child get involved by:
Take Action: Ask Questions
Make a list of questions you want to ask the doctor.
Before the well-child visit, write down 3 to 5 questions you have. This visit is a great time to ask the doctor or nurse any questions about:
- A health condition your child has (like asthma, allergies, or a speech problem)
- Changes in behavior or mood
- Problems in school – with learning or with other children
Here are some important questions to ask:
- Is my child up to date on shots?
- How can I make sure my child is getting enough physical activity?
- How can I help my child eat healthy?
- Is my child at a healthy weight?
- How can I teach my child to use the Internet safely?
- How can I talk with my child about bullying?
- How can I help my child know what to expect during puberty?
Take a notepad and write down the answers so you can remember them later.
Ask what to do if your child gets sick.
Make sure you know how to get in touch with a doctor or nurse when the office is closed. Ask how to get hold of the doctor on call, or if there's a nurse information service you can call at night or on the weekend.
Take Action: What to Expect
Know what to expect.
During each well-child visit, the doctor or nurse will ask you questions about your child, do a physical exam, and update your child’s medical history. You'll also be able to ask your questions and discuss any problems.
The doctor or nurse will ask you and your child questions.
The doctor or nurse may ask about:
- Behavior – Does your child have trouble following directions at home or at school?
- Health – Does your child often complain of headaches or other pain?
- School – Does your child look forward to going to school?
- Activities – What does your child like to do after school and on weekends?
- Eating habits – What does your child eat on a normal day?
- Family – Have there been any changes in your family since your last visit?
Your answers to questions like these will help the doctor or nurse make sure your child is healthy and developing normally.
Take Action: Physical Exam
The doctor or nurse will also check your child’s body.
To check your child’s body, the doctor or nurse will:
- Measure your child’s height and weight
- Check your child’s blood pressure
- Check your child’s vision and hearing
- Check your child’s body parts (this is called a physical exam)
- Give shots your child needs
See what else the doctor may ask when your child is:
Content last updated February 4, 2020
This information on well-child visits was adapted from materials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health.
Trina Menden Anglin, M.D., Ph.D., FAAP
Chief, Adolescent Health Branch
Maternal and Child Health Bureau
Health Resources and Services Administration