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Turning three can be a big milestone in your child's life; from mastering using the potty to starting preschool, some big changes are likely to be happening!
Here at Kidadl, we know that big changes for kids can lead to some big worries for parents. So whether you're worried that your three-year-old's behavior is out of control, or you're looking for tried and tested suggestions to create a bespoke [behaviour management plan], we're here with plenty of advice and support to see you and your child through.
And with all those big changes afoot, as your toddler transitions into a preschooler, it's the ideal time for a little check up. This article will tell you everything you need to know about your child's three-year pediatrician appointment.
What Happens At The 3 Year Old Check Up?
Your doctor will want to take a look at a number of physical, emotional and developmental areas for your child.
Just like at their infant checkups, your child will have their height and weight measured to ensure they are in proportion, and these figures may be used to calculate a Body Mass Index (BMI) figure.
You're likely to already have a good idea of how your child is growing, but the doctor will also plot these figures onto a growth chart to see where your child sits compared to other kids their age. Unless your child is wildly over or underweight, remember that there's no wrong answer to this. It's a chart based on average figures, but we all know that children grow at different speeds, and will also be taller or smaller based on the DNA they got from you. The average height for 3-year-old boy and girl children, and the average weight of a 3-year-old are both just benchmarks that are used to compare to.
As well as height and weight, the doctor may also measure your child's head circumference and plot it alongside the other figures on the growth chart.
Your doctor may also take your child's blood pressure, check their hearing, assess their vision with a simple eye exam, and listen to their heart and chest. Some doctors may ask for a urine test or even order blood work, but that is not always the case.
Unless your child missed any of their baby shots, there shouldn't be any scheduled immunizations at this appointment.
On top of these physical growth and health checks, the doctor will also ask you and your child some routine questions, to get a feel for their overall development. They might cover things like if your child still has an afternoon nap, or how they are getting on with potty training; how they play with other children and their behavior at home or at preschool. The doctor might assess your child's language skills and whether they're meeting key milestones, such as forming short sentences. Or they might take a closer look at your child's gross and fine motor skills, whether that's if they can hop, draw a picture or ride a trike.
Again, it's important to note that there is no single definitive 'normal' behavior for a 3-year-old. Your child may develop quicker in one area and slower in another; one child may struggle with being overly emotional, whereas another may be quiet and introverted. We are all different and, as long as you and your doctor have no genuine concerns, healthy, happy kids are what counts.
The doctor will also invite you to discuss any changes in the family dynamic or any specific concerns you may have with regard to the behavior or development of your child.
Why Do We Have The 3 Year Check Up?
We have the three year checkup because there are some key changes that happen as your child starts to grow up from an infant to a school-aged child. It's important to double check that they're healthy and that their development is on track for their age.
Some issues, for example with blood pressure, vision or a child's heart, might also not be easily recognizable by parents at home. So, although the likelihood of discovering a serious condition is low, it doesn't hurt to make sure.
And, as their final toddler check up, it's also a good time to highlight any concerns or tackle any potential delays before children start school. Plus you get access to lots of advice and information if you need it.
What Are They Looking For?
The three year checkup is nothing to worry about. The pediatrician will carry out a variety of routine tests and checks to get a picture of your child's growth, development and overall health. Is your child hitting average height and weight figures? Are they up to date with their baby shot schedule? Do they play well, eat well, sleep well? Doctors aren't looking for anything to catch you out, they're simply looking to gain a snapshot of your child's health before they start school and get busy growing up!
What Will You Find Out At The 3 Year Old Check Up?
Hopefully you won't discover anything at your appointment that comes as a surprise. You will obviously find out your child's height and weight, which you might want to record to compare with the previous and any follow-up appointments.
You will learn if your child is hitting key development milestones for their age, in language, play and motor skills. But you don't have to worry too much about this, because all children grow and develop at their own pace and they shouldn't be in a rush!
It's also a great opportunity to find out anything you'd like to know! Your doctor isn't just there for a basic checkup, feel free to ask plenty of questions and make a note of any key information. Perhaps you'd like advice on appropriate vaccines and immunizations, or warding off the typical preschool bugs. You might have a child who's resisting bedtime or needs some encouragement when it comes to healthy eating. Your doctor is there to help and can also signpost you to extra resources if you need them.
How To Prepare Your Child For The 3 Year Old Check Up
It's great to talk to your child in an age-appropriate way about seeing the doctor. But if you have any anxieties as a parent, try to keep them from your child. We don't want to accidentally scare them!
Tell your child that the doctor will give them a gentle checkup. He or she will measure their height and weight, listen to their heart and chest, look in their eyes and ears, and then ask them some questions. They should answer honestly and try not to be too shy. Reassure them that there is no wrong answer and that mom, dad or their caregiver will be present at all times.
Remind your child that they can ask the doctor questions, too! Perhaps they'd like to know what the stethoscope is, or why they can't eat ice cream for breakfast? Encouraging an open dialogue is a great way to help instil trust and honesty in that future doctor-patient relationship.
And just to ward off any final nerves, you can always promise your child a little treat afterwards.
If you found this article helpful, then why not take a look at our [sample evening routines] for kids, or try out questions to ask your grandparents?
Jo is a work-from-home mum to two boys. They can often be found mooching around their local castle, museum or gallery. She has a degree in Film and English and a personal interest in mental health and well being, as well as food and drink, photography, history, and art, and likes to write about all of these interests on her blog. She is also passionate about passing on her love for knowledge to her sons through learning and having adventure. And, as a Nottingham native, there are no better woods to stomp about in than Sherwood forest, following in the footsteps of Robin Hood!