(BPT) – Due to the pandemic, some parents have delayed doctor visits and immunizations for their babies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported fewer children and infants having recommended vaccinations during the spring 2020 lockdowns, leaving those children at higher risk of getting diseases like the measles.
While it’s understandable that parents are worried about taking children to the doctor now, babies and toddlers need to see a healthcare provider for wellness visits while their bodies are growing and developing. Eight well-child visits are recommended between birth and 15 months. If you have a little one, remember these regular in-person wellness visits — and vaccinations — help make sure your baby stays healthy.
If you’re behind on visits and immunizations, don’t worry — simply call your pediatrician to schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Rest assured that your baby’s healthcare provider is taking all necessary steps to keep you and your child healthy during your visit.
“Healthcare providers nationwide are doing everything they can to safeguard the health of patients and families,” says Dr. Arethusa Kirk, chief medical officer at UnitedHealthcare. "Think of your baby’s pediatrician as your partner in helping to keep your baby safe and healthy, because that’s their primary goal."
Here are the main reasons for keeping your baby’s regular wellness visits.
1. Your pediatrician can identify concerns
Seeing your baby helps a pediatrician identify signs of illness or developmental concerns. Recognizing issues early helps your pediatrician give your child prompt treatment to keep them healthy.
2. Your infant needs immunizations
The CDC recommends vaccinations proven to help protect children against dangerous diseases like polio and measles. These vaccinations must be given early to protect babies when they are most vulnerable.
All vaccinations have been proven by extensive research to be safe and effective for your child. According to Johns Hopkins University, most childhood immunizations work for 85%-95% of people who get them. But some vaccinations, like the two required doses of MMR (Measles-Mumps-Rubella) have been proven to offer up to 99% protection from those diseases.
Schools and daycares require children to be immunized to protect all enrolled children. Not vaccinating your child leaves them at risk of getting serious, possibly life-threatening illnesses.
Vaccinations are designed to protect from and reduce the effect of illnesses like the flu if contracted. Making sure your whole family is protected with up-to-date immunizations creates a circle of protection around vulnerable newborns and developing babies.
3. You can ask questions
Face it, parenting is hard. New parents especially have many questions arise about their child’s development and behavior.
Here are common questions your pediatrician can answer:
- What can I do to make breastfeeding more comfortable?
- Should I put my baby to sleep on their back?
- How often should I bathe my baby?
- Should I be using formula while breastfeeding?
- I’ve been feeling sad and anxious since delivering my baby. What should I do?
- How long should my baby nap each day?
- I think my baby is behind in development. What can I do?
- Are my baby’s sleep patterns normal?
- How can I treat diaper rash?
4. Pediatricians can provide resources
If your family needs help finding childcare, getting a car seat or food assistance, babyproofing your house or with any other concerns, your pediatrician can assist you in finding helpful programs and resources.
5. Well-child visits are usually covered by insurance
Most insurance plans will cover early well-child visits and immunizations, so they may be free of charge. Call your health insurance provider to ask about your family’s coverage.
If you are a UnitedHealthcare Community Plan member, you may have access to the Healthy First Steps program, which can help you find a care provider, schedule well-child visits, connect with educational and community resources and more. (Healthy First Steps is only available to members in some states. For all other states, contact the number on your insurance card for assistance.) Call 1-800-599-5985, TTY 711, Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m. For help getting to appointments, getting formula or healthy food, call the number on your insurance card.
Prepare for your visit
Write down questions to ask the pediatrician and bring them with you, along with anything your baby might need (like diapers, wipes, a bottle).
Call your healthcare provider to ask about their safety guidelines. Always practice social distancing, wash hands often and wear a mask to protect your family and others during COVID-19.
To learn more about wellness visits, visit www.uhc.com/childrenswellness.