My daughter was born in April. That means that every April, she has to go to the doctor for a wellness checkup appointment.
The experience is usually scheduled a week after the actual day, mostly because the medical staff knows that getting a shot for your birthday is kind of cruel. By the time the doctor’s appointment happens, usually, the birthday glow has worn off.
Of course, this year was a little different. By the time her birthday hit, we’d already started sheltering in place. The virus seemed more dangerous than ever, and literally every doctor I had ever gone to since I registered for a Gmail account had emailed me with alternate ways to stay safe.
I felt OK bumping back the wellness check for a little bit. Especially since we didn’t have too many concerns.
But sooner than I realized, I got the call. They wanted to make room in the schedule for her and had a plan of action for how to do it. The process was scary but necessary. For kids, you don’t want to stray too far from their vaccination schedule. And since kids happen to get sick a lot, it’s good to know the best ways to live life while also battling a global concern.
Here are some tips on how to stay safe during an appointment with your pediatrician.
Check the doctor's website.
There’s a good chance they’re following a protocol that’s different from the last time you visited. Check their website as well as your email to see if they have their rules laid out. It’ll make things run more smoothly if you’re on the same page. Also, feel free to call the doctor’s office in advance to confirm the appointment, and ask any questions you need. They’d rather have you ask now than when you’re physically at the appointment.
Practice wearing masks with your child before going in.
As of right now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends masks on children who are older than 2. But that doesn’t mean your 3-year-old will be a pro. Masks can be uncomfortable and scary. Work on making them fun, or letting your child choose patterns they want to wear. Masks likely won’t be going anywhere anytime soon, so the sooner your kid is comfortable with the procedure, the better.
Consider having one parent go in.
Many offices are suggesting that only one parent goes in with a patient. That doesn’t mean that the other parent can’t wait out in the car until the appointment is over. The fewer people in the doctor’s office, the better. If you’re trying to figure out who goes in, consider choosing the parent who knows the best way to comfort your child. The situation will be new and possibly scary for them.
Talk to your child about what to expect.
Set up ground rules with your kid. Calmly tell them everything you know about the appointment, and consider practicing with them before going in. As a general rule, it’s best for your child not to touch things if they can help it. Try to make a game out of it, and turn a somewhat strange scenario into something they might actually enjoy.
Going to the doctor, in general, can cause a lot of anxiety for a child, especially if they don’t know why shots and checkups are important just yet. If they’re good with bribes, it’s not the worst idea to tell them that you’ll go out for ice cream right afterward. Or maybe they’ll get an additional 15 minutes of screen time for good behavior. You can figure out what works best with your child.
Remind yourself that doctors will prep for this situation best.
Even though this virus teaches us more every day, the best people to trust in a situation like this are people in health care. They know the importance of avoiding germs, and they would never want to put their patients in a dangerous situation. The doctor’s office may actually end up being safer than you think with all of their sanitation practices in place.
Wash your hands.
This should go without saying, but sometimes we all forget. Handwashing is still a very important part of staying safe. Between washing your hands and wearing a mask, you’re doing an excellent job of protecting yourself and those around you. Even if your state may be opening more stores and businesses, that doesn’t mean handwashing is no longer important.
Spread positivity when you see it.
If you had an excellent experience with the safety at your pediatrician’s office, feel free to tell other local parents. This is something a lot of us are fearing, and a great recommendation can go a long way — especially for a parent who may have been thinking about switching pediatricians. Feel free to post positive reviews when you’re done, and detail any great safety methods that you know your doctor is taking for those who might not know.
Always check with your health care provider concerning any symptoms you may be experiencing, and seek the most accurate information from the CDC and your state’s health department.