Question: “Why do I have to bring my child in for a 2 1/2 year well exam?”

Within the past few years, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that health care providers start seeing toddlers for well exams at the age of 30 months. This is a time period when we are seeing significant advances in developmental milestones. A toddler’s gross motor and fine motor skills are improving, but more importantly it is a time to review both language and social communication which expand dramatically between the ages of 2 and 3.

Verbally in this age group, we see an increase in the use of short phrases, 3-4 word sentences, and about 50% of their speech being understandable by others. Vocabulary expands dramatically, along with the toddler being able to give a verbal description of his actions e.g. “me take my coat off”. Toddlers can also relate actions with animals and adults e.g. “a bird flies”.

In social situations, most play continues to be parallel (playing next to one another, but not interacting) at this age. However, in some activities that are recognized or repetitive, the 2 1/2 year old enjoys independent play with peers. This age group also loves acting out behaviors that are seen in family members e.g. talking on the phone or sweeping the floor.

Below are some “Red Flags” that a 2 1/2 year old’s development is NOT going in the right direction:

High separation anxiety
Doesn’t interact with folks outside his/her own family
Doesn’t play with other kids
Avoids eye contact
Cannot scribble
Can only use less than three words in a sentence
Cannot complete a sentenceCannot throw a ball
Cannot jump
Cannot climb stairs by alternating feet
Strangers cannot understand her
Won’t play make-believe
Doesn’t like getting dressed or going to sleep
Loses previous skills

This 2 1/2 year well exam is an important time for health care providers to examine your child, check growth, and review developmental milestones to make sure your child is a developing into a healthy toddler. Sometimes blood work is encouraged depending on the results of the exam; these can be done at a lab services facility.

Also, please check with your insurance company prior to coming in for the check up, to make sure that it will be covered under your present plan.

Author: Michelle Miller, CPNP