The Rookie Mama: Make well visits part of your regularly scheduled program

Well-child visits.

On the surface, one may surmise that a visit in which anxious parents watch their young get poked, prodded, examined for anything worrisome might be abhorrent.

Parents sweatily discuss concerns with pediatricians as calm, swift-acting nurses take little finger pokes and administer vaccines, then it’s a wrap. In the form of a Looney Tunes bandage, of course.

To the roll of child rearing dice, parents are either told all’s well or all’s not so much.

No matter how mild any disconcertment, parents hold their breath while pediatricians sidetrack a bit to calmly explain their child’s development, and the game plan needed to tackle whatever road block may stand on his or her path to wellness.

But this is precisely why well-child visits are a beautiful thing, a necessary thing.

They’re the place where questions get answered, concerns discussed, immunization protection given, and confidence boosted to sometimes shaky parents by the pros.

These pros that give parents a solid strategy are the pediatricians, and pediatricians are the flashlight holders on the winding, unknown, totally humbling journey that is parenthood.

Well-child visits aren’t always easy, most certainly not a breeze for the faint of heart.

Last week, my husband and I sat with our doctor for our youngest’s 2-year-checkup.

Oh, two. Two means front facing carseats, cutting whole milk, and the heartbreaking realization that my baby’s no baby. Oh, and potty training too. Two!

But this well-child visit also required an innoculation and a finger poke. The vaccine was a piece of cake; the blood draw a crummier experience.

No sooner had the nurse given our baby– sorry, toddler– a bandage for his finger post-poke, did he wail and flail his finger so the gauze promptly fell right off. There was blood.

A few tiny drops settled onto the laminate floor by my husband’s feet as he stood right in front of us, and some landed on his work clothing to match.

I held out our tot for the nurse, my arms outstretched as never before, but I was the one who felt like a toddler as I helplessly exclaimed, ‘He’s bleeding!’

She was quick with another bandage; she’d done this before.

But for me, seeing blood never gets easier. I can’t remove those red drops from my memory, but our boy was fortunately more unscathed.

After his appointment, my husband and I felt richer with a slightly stronger grasp on what to look for in development this coming year.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, well-child visits are absolutely beneficial for many reasons.

Most importantly, the visits are preventative. Immunizations help prevent illness, and pediatricians discuss nutrition and safety at these visits to kiddos off on the right track.

Well-child visits are key for tracking growth and development. Parents can keep tabs on physical growth, as well as discuss milestones and behaviors.

These visits are a fantastic opportunity for parents to discuss any range of concerns pertaining to their tots.

The AAP notes that well-child visits are a solid team approach in which pediatricians, parents and children build trusting relationships to ensure the children are best served physically, mentally, and socially. It’s a toast to their pint-sized health, laying the foundation for a lifelong journey of preventative care.

For these invaluable benefits, I can deal with seeing a couple drops of blood.

— Michelle Cote is an award-winning, nationally syndicated columnist who enjoys cooking, gardening, design, and living room dance-offs with her husband, son, and puppy dog.

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