It’s a new school year which means . . . new germs! Fall is always full of doctor appointments in my household. There are annual wellness visits, surprise sick visits, and let’s not forget trips to the specialists. We see our pediatric dermatologist and allergist even more than our pediatrician! Since nothing is more important than the health of our children, here are eight tips for managing your child’s health care visits.
Tips to Manage Your Child’s Doctor Visits
1. Be Prepared
- Keep a running list of questions for your child’s pediatrician in your phone. It’s easy to forget something when your doctor is asking you their own set of questions and moving fast. Jot down their answers, too.
- Have your answers ready for standard questions. If your child is under the age of one, expect them to ask how many hours a day they’re sleeping and how often and how much they’re eating. This saves you from having to calculate on the spot, which is especially challenging during those sleepless months with a newborn.
- Maintain an active list of your child’s medications including dosage and how often they take it.
2. Track Symptoms and Medications
- Log symptoms start dates and circumstances. It will be easier to know when the next dose can be given and help you relay pertinent info to the doctor. Note if anything makes them better or worse.
- Keep it simple and succinct when conveying information. Cutting the backstory leaves more time to get to the root of any issues and discuss solutions.
3. Don’t Leave Confused
- You are your child’s biggest advocate, so don’t hesitate to ask the doctor to clarify if something is unclear. Try repeating it back to them.
- If there’s a new term, have them spell it for you so you can write it down and look it up later.
- Speak up if you think something is incorrect (like an infant weight taken). Having the office staff double check will save you regret and doubt after you leave.
4. Ask for What You Want
- Follow your intuition. If you’re concerned about something, bring it up. Doctors have a lot to cover during wellness visits, and they can’t assess everything. Maybe you suspect your child would benefit from play therapy, physical therapy, a nutritionist, etc. but your doctor hasn’t brought it up. Ask for the referral! It can’t hurt and early intervention is often beneficial.
- Your pediatrician is an amazing parenting resource. Ask for their potty-training advice or suggestions on how to help your child adapt to a new sibling. They are a wealth of knowledge and full of tips and tricks! I also love hearing our pediatrician’s recommendations on best sunscreen, prebiotics, and most recently, a bitter nail polish to break my daughter’s bad habit of biting her nails!
5. Plan for the Future
- Go over an action plan at the end of each visit, for example: “So we’ll try this new cream twice a day for a week, and if we don’t see improvement, we’ll reach back out to your nurse.”
- Know what to expect at the next visit. At our allergist, I like to ask when the next time my kids will need skin or blood testing done and request their labs be ordered prior to the next appointment. This allows us to review results at the next visit instead of over the phone or at an additional follow-up.
- If you have a daunting appointment ahead—bring another adult if possible. It’s always nice to have an extra set of hands and ears. Spouse can’t make it? Ask if they can join over video chat for important consults.
6. Keep Track of Your Visits
- Schedule your next appointment before you leave. You can always reschedule, but this way you’re more likely to get a convenient time that works for you and your child.
- Compare your receipt with the Explanation of Benefits (EOB) from your insurance company to make sure you’re not being overcharged. This often happens with offices that make you pay on the day of your visit.
7. Prep Your Child
- Does your child get anxiety over shots? Depending on their personality, maybe let them know slightly ahead of time so they don’t feel caught off guard.
- Bring distractions for your child and/or siblings.
- Try to work around your child’s nap schedule and make sure they’ve eaten before they come. No one wants a hangry child at the doctor!
8. Reward Your Child
Bring a treat or go to the park after a wellness visit. Maybe have a special lunch date. Anything to help make the day a positive experience. The hope is that our children continue to take care of their health long after they’ve left the nest.
I hope these tips help you get the most out of your child’s healthcare visits, or even your own! Is there anything you would add?