Father holding baby talking to paediatrician.

Visiting a paediatrician is one of those things you will have to do as a parent. It need not be an anxiety-provoking exercise. On the contrary, it is an opportunity to learn about your child’s body and what to expect from it. In order to make the most out of this visit, you need to prepare for it. Here are a few things you need to do so you can derive maximum benefit from the visit.

Bring along your Child Health Record Book

Your child’s Health Record Book is a mine of information, and the younger he is, the more relevant it is. It tells a story of his immunizations and his growth over time. It may also have information about your pregnancy and delivery, which are necessary for your child’s paediatrician to come to an accurate conclusion of his health. Carry it along on any hospital visit, and offer to show it to the doctor even if he does not ask for it. You can take the opportunity to ask for explanation of anything in it that you don’t understand.

Don’t skip drugs

Unless you have been instructed to the contrary, do not skip your child’s regular drugs, daily tests or other measurements you do at home on the day you are visiting the doctor. As an example, if your child is on antihypertensive medications, and you skip it the day you are visiting the doctor, your child’s blood pressure may be high on that day, and the doctor wouldn’t know whether the high blood pressure is due to skipped medications or it is high even when the medication is taken. Then it may be difficult to act appropriately on it.

Bring the drugs

Most parents start some medication for their child’s symptoms before going to hospital. Bring along the drugs your child is on, unless you know the names and doses. If, unfortunately, you are seeking help for something your child accidentally ate or drank, then it is even more important to take it along, safely. Imagine being prescribed the same medication you have at home just because the doctor didn’t know, or the intervention for an episode of accidental poisoning being delayed because the doctor didn’t know what the poison was!

Be part of the examination

Watch as the doctor examines your child and ask if he has found anything interesting. If your child has a chronic illness, you should ask if there are any simple examination techniques you should learn. For example, if your child has sickle cell disease, you need to learn how to feel for the spleen, so ask your child’s doctor to show you how.

Have your questions ready

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Is there anything you don’t understand about your baby’s growth or behaviour?  Ask your baby’s paediatrician as many questions as you can, and make sure you understand the answers given. Ask that medical jargon is explained in simple language for you, and do not be afraid to ask follow-on questions.

What is the diagnosis?

At the end of the consultation, ask what your child’s diagnosis is. Then you can research on it if you would like to, or so that you can understand your role in helping him to recover, including any necessary follow-ups.

In summary

Prepare for your visit to the paediatrician, by taking along your baby’s health records, medications and questions. Your child should not skip his regular medications on the day of the visit. You need to know your child’s diagnosis at the end of the visit. Visiting your child’s paediatrician is an opportunity to get to know your child a bit more, medically.

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