Maybe you just had a baby, or your 18-month-old needs shots for daycare, or maybe your 3-year-old put bead up her nose—no matter the reason, caregivers are still taking children to see their doctors despite COVID-19. Understandably, this is more stressful than ever before, but with some preparation and a few supplies, you can feel safe taking your child into a medical facility.
First, when scheduling an appointment, let the staff know exactly why you are coming in to the office. Is your child sick or coming in for routine well care? Are you bringing an otherwise healthy child in for a skin rash? Are you worried about COVID-19? The more information you can give, the more likely the office will place you into the right timeslot.
If the visit was for a regular well-child check, but the child has developed a fever, let the office know. Most offices are seeing “sick” kids at different times than “well” kids. Many have protocols in place for parents who are worried about COVID-19, so if that is the reason for the visit be sure to let them know.
Many offices are also offering telemedicine visits for minor concerns. Ask if that might be appropriate for your child. You may be able to avoid a trip entirely.
Before you leave the house, make sure you have everything you need to stay as safe as possible. Caregivers and children over age two should wear a mask. Don’t assume the office staff will give you one. Bring your own tissues, diaper-changing equipment, formula, and hand sanitizer. If your child uses a pacifier, make sure to bring an extra sanitized one, as you shouldn’t use one that fell out of their mouth onto the floor. A clean muslin blanket can be draped over the car seat carrier as you walk into and out of the office for infants. The idea is to limit your contact with as many objects as possible at the office.
Check with your doctor to determine their current check-in policy. Many offices are asking parents to call from the car or lobby upon arrival, while some have spaced visits far enough apart that you will not need to wait in any waiting room. Once you are there, keep your child close at hand. Toys, books, and iPads have mostly been removed from waiting areas and exam rooms to reduce the risk of contamination. Bring a few tricks to keep your toddlers busy in the event of a short wait.
Finally, prepare your toddlers, preschoolers, and older children by letting them know that their doctor may look different but will be the same, kind person. She’ll have on a mask, perhaps something shielding her eyes and maybe even different clothes than usual. Preparing your child can help lessen anxiety at these changes and make for a smooth visit.
It is important that we keep our routine appointments, especially for babies up to age two, even at this stressful time. Preparing ahead, can make this just a little bit easier.
- You should continue to keep well-child and immunization appointments.
- Call your doctor’s ahead of time if your child is sick.
- Take along safety gear like hand sanitizers and masks.
- Prepare your child for the visit.