Child Physical: What to Expect Out of an Annual Physical Exam

When a child is first born, you’re going to feel like you live at your pediatrician’s office at times. It’s going to be very important for you to take your child to see their pediatrician about a dozen times during the first 2 years of their life.

After that, though, you won’t have to worry about bringing your child back to see your pediatrician every few months anymore. You’ll only have to go to their office when your child is sick or when it’s time for their annual child physical.

During an annual physical for kids, a pediatrician will check your child out from head to toe. You’ll want to figure out how to pick a pediatric doctor that knows how to keep your child as healthy as can be so that this process plays out smoothly year after year.

You’ll also want to familiarize yourself with what to expect from a child’s physical exam. We’ve put together what should take place during a child’s physical below.

A Pediatrician Will Begin by Speaking With You and Your Child

When you and your child first sit down with a pediatrician for their annual child physical, you’ll all begin by having a quick conversation about your child’s health. The pediatrician will ask you and your child about any health concerns that you have, and they’ll also review your family’s medical history.

It’s important for you all to have this conversation at the start so that a pediatrician can pay close attention to anything that might be concerning to you or your child. It’ll lay down the foundation for your child’s annual physical.

A Nurse Will Collect Your Child’s Vital Information

While a pediatrician is in the process of speaking with you and your child, a nurse will also come in to collect some vital information from your child. They will seek to find out your child’s:

  • Height
  • Weight
  • Blood pressure
  • Oxygen saturation levels

A pediatrician is going to need to have all this information at their disposal while evaluating your child. It’ll help them determine what areas they’re going to have to focus on as they conduct your child’s physical.

A Pediatrician Will Observe Your Child Visually

There are three different phases that will make up a child physical. The first one is called the observation phase, and as its name would suggest, it involves a pediatrician looking over your child visually.

During this phase, a pediatrician will observe everything from the appearance of your child’s skin to your child’s posture to see if there is anything that stands out. They may ask your child to stand up, sit down, or even lie down during this portion of their physical. They may point things out to you along the way.

A Pediatrician Will Examine Your Child With Their Hands

Once the observation phase is complete, a pediatrician will then move on to the palpation phase. During this phase, they will use their hands and fingers to feel different parts of your child’s body.

The pediatrician will be looking for any fluid buildup in your child’s body and any other irregularities that might not be obvious to the naked eye. You might want to speak with your child about this part of the child physical since it can be uncomfortable for many children.

You should also make sure that you have a trustworthy pediatrician on your side so that they go above and beyond to make a child feel comfortable during the palpation phase. You can visit to find one.

A Pediatrician Will Use a Stethoscope on Your Child

The final phase of a child physical is called the auscultation phase. It’s the phase that calls for a pediatrician to pull out their stethoscope and use it on a child to check their heart rate, breathing, and more.

A pediatrician will typically move their stethoscope around on a child’s chest and back so that they can hear their heart beating from different angles. They’ll be able to get a feel for the heart’s timing, pitch, loudness, and location during this phase of an exam.

A Pediatrician Will Administer Any Necessary Vaccinations to Your Child

Your child isn’t going to have to get vaccinations every time they have a child physical. But there are going to be a variety of vaccines that they will need to get throughout the course of their childhood.

You should educate yourself about the different types of vaccines that kids need to get. You should also talk to your kids about what makes vaccines so important so that they’re not too afraid of them when they get to your pediatrician’s office.

A Pediatrician Will Make Suggestions to You and Your Child About Their Health

At the very end of your child’s annual physical, your pediatrician will sit back down with both of you to talk about your child’s health. They’ll make suggestions on what you and your child could be doing to make them even healthier than they already are.

They’ll also discuss when they would like to see your child for an exam again. In most cases, you won’t have to come back for another year. But in some instances, you might have to bring your child back sooner than that depending on how old they are at the time.

Knowing What to Expect From a Child Physical Is Important

Each and every child physical is going to be a little bit different. There are going to be times when you and your child will be in and out of your pediatrician’s office in no time. And there are also going to be times when you and your child will have to do a little more than you usually do at a pediatrician’s office.

Your child’s annual exams should include all of the things that we just mentioned, though. By taking these steps, a pediatrician will be able to paint you a complete picture of where your child stands health-wise.

Find more invaluable health and wellness tips by reading through the other articles posted on our blog.