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How to Keep Your Child Safe During a Doctor’s Appointment

A masked doctor checking a masked child's temperature.

Taking your child to the doctor for checkups is an essential part of being a parent. In the middle of a pandemic, though, going to the clinic can be scary.

While you might be pondering whether it’s safe to take your child in for a checkup or routine vaccinations, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these appointments are essential.

Increased Efforts from Healthcare Providers

Healthcare facilities and medical offices are taking extra precautions to ensure their offices are safe and clean before new patients arrive. Most offices are preregistering patients over the phone to cut down the time they have to spend in the office.

Many facilities are also stopping patients at the door and asking preliminary questions to ensure they haven’t been exposed to the coronavirus. Once a patient is deemed safe, some offices even provide their own medical masks.

Some questions you might be asked include:

  • Have you experienced fever, cough, loss of taste or smell, or a sore throat (or any other symptoms of COVID-19) in the last 24-48 hours?
  • Do you think you might have been exposed to the coronavirus in the last 24-48 hours?
  • Have you been in contact with anyone who’s tested positive for coronavirus?

Before entering, a healthcare provider will also likely check your temperature using an FDA-approved, no-touch thermometer. Some agencies are also asking patients to wait outside until they’re called in by phone to reduce the number of people in the facility.

Most well-child visits are also only scheduled at certain times of the day, with sick visits being scheduled later or earlier. Offices with access to two separate buildings are likewise keeping these appointments separated.

On top of all the extra work they’re putting into scheduling, you’ll also see nurses regularly disinfecting doors and handles, and removing chairs from waiting rooms.

What Should You Do to Prepare?

A mother and child, both wearing masks, using hand sanitizer.

Being prepared is key and will make your visit a lot smoother. While facilities offer hand-sanitizing solutions, it’s best to bring your own if you have some. Also, be sure to take your masks in case the facility doesn’t provide them.

Taking two of everything (pandemic or not) is always a good idea. For example, if your baby loves throwing things (is there one who doesn’t?), bring one bottle for inside the office and keep a backup in the car.

It’s also wise to prepare for your appointment using a bag or backpack you can easily throw in the washing machine when you’re back home. Consider bringing just the essentials, so you can quickly unpack it all and give everything a good scrub, too.

Here’s a list of some essentials to pack to help you get organized:

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Masks
  • Two bottles (one for car, one for office)
  • Sanitizing wipes
  • A few toys or books to keep baby busy
  • A list of questions for the doctor

Should My Baby Wear a Mask?

Many offices don’t require babies to wear masks. In fact, many sources suggest that babies shouldn’t wear one due to safety concerns. Babies have much smaller airways, which makes breathing with a mask on more difficult.

Some babies might not have the motor skills to remove a mask themselves if they’re having a hard time breathing, which can be dangerous. For toddlers, it’s more of a nuisance, as they’ll likely try to remove it and touch their face while doing so.

Consider a Home Healthcare Service

Home health services are a great alternative if your child requires more care than a well-child visit. Your pediatrician can likely provide you with information about an agency he or she works with, so you can call and inquire about its services.

These services aren’t meant to replace regular checkups, but rather, to relieve you from having to go to medical facilities a few times per month if your child requires more care. You can also check with these agencies to find out whether your insurance covers their services.

In a time where everything feels uncertain and a bit frightening, it’s helpful to be reminded of just how hard all the incredible people in the healthcare industry are working to keep us all safe.

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »
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