If your child is entering a day care or preschool setting, it’s likely you’ll need to provide up-to-date health forms. “No matter a child’s age, I recommend parents bring to their child’s pediatrician any school health forms and medication administration forms that their child needs in order to attend school,” says Dr. Stockwell. It’s a good way to ensure kids are caught up on all health checks and vaccinations and are safe while they’re at school.
Well checkups: The frequency of pediatrician visits varies with age. Between 12 and 18 months, children should have a well-visit with their pediatrician every 3 months. For ages 18 months to 3 years, it’s every 6 months.
Vaccinations: Every child should receive routine vaccinations throughout childhood.
Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) and varicella: To safeguard against measles, mumps, and rubella, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a dose of MMR vaccine between the ages of 12 to 15 months, and another dose between 4 and 6 years of age. The same timeline applies for vaccinating children against varicella (chickenpox).
Hepatitis A: To protect against hepatitis, children are recommended to receive two doses of the hepatitis A vaccine between the ages of 12 and 23 months, separated by 6 months.
Remember that in this age range, kids might also be receiving sequential doses of vaccines that were administered earlier in infancy. For example, subsequent doses of the diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP) vaccine, haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine, and pneumococcal vaccine would be administered during this time.
“It’s important kids are up-to-date not only on their routine vaccinations, but also their flu and COVID vaccines,” says Dr. Stockwell, who is also an attending pediatrician at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and associate professor of Pediatrics at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and of Population and Family Health at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. “Every child should have their annual flu shot, especially during back-to-school season, and remain up to date on the COVID vaccine, which is now available for children 6 months and older.”
Dental checkups: For young children, their first visit to the dentist usually occurs when they turn 1. “After that first visit, the cadence of checkups can be determined by your dentist,” says Dr. Stockwell.
Vision and hearing screening: Beginning at age 3, annual vision and hearing screenings can help keep eyes and ears healthy. This may be done at a child’s pediatrician visits. Many school health clinics also offer these screenings.