I can usually tell if a family is prepared the moment I enter the exam room. When children are prepared for a situation, there is a greater chance that they will cooperate, behave and enjoy their experience. When parents are prepared, they usually leave feeling like they had a successful appointment.
How to Prepare a Newborn
Getting out of the house and to a newborn appointment on time can often be a challenge for new parents. Pack your baby bag a head of time with extra diapers, wipes, change of clothes, formula or any other supplies you may need. If you’re keeping track of feedings, and wet and dirty diapers, bring your notes as well as a list of questions you have.
How to Prepare a Toddler
Make going to the doctor’s office fun! If you have fun, your kids will sense it and enjoy themselves too. Bring a book or toy to keep them occupied and a snack in case they get hungry. Role-play at home to prepare your kids for a check up or even take them with you to your doctor’s appointment or to an older sibling’s appointment so they can be comfortable with the surroundings.
Play doctor kits are a great way to help your children feel comfortable with the equipment and exam. You can also use it to teach body parts to your children. “Do you have ears? Where are they? Let’s take a peak inside.” A special reward or treat after the visit is a nice tradition.
How to Prepare a Preschooler
Preschoolers understand everything going on. Let them know that you go to the doctor too to keep yourself healthy and say it in a positive, fun tone. Explain to them that the doctor is going to check their eyes, ears, mouth, and so on and demonstrate it with a play doctor’s kit. Then, ask them to pretend to play doctor and examine you.
While you’re at the appointment, relax. Children sense your own stress and anxiety. Don’t lie to your children and tell them it won’t hurt. Instead explain to them that the shot will help keep them from getting sick. Let them know it will be a quick pinch, but then it’s over. If you are strong and relaxed, they will be, too. Again, always try your best to make it a fun experience. If your children are comfortable with their doctor and the office from regular well child visits, sick visits will be easier for them to deal with later on. Don’t forget a book or toy and snack, since you never know how long you might be out.
Easing Your Child’s Fear of Visiting the Doctor
Your child shouldn’t be any more fearful of a doctor than of any other new friend or family member who enters their life. Remember that your child learns responses from you and listens to how you respond to your own doctor and visits. So be positive and make it fun. If your child has a favorite toy, blanket or other comfort item, bring that too. Most pediatricians will happily examine a stuffed animal first before examining your child.
Parents can prepare by making a list of questions, issues or concerns that you’d like to discuss. If this appointment is for a specific issue, make note of how long the problem has been going on, when it happens, and anything else that you think your pediatrician should know. If you have a list, there is less of a chance that you’ll get preoccupied by all of the commotion and forget to ask something important.