5 Tips for a Successful Doctor’s Visit
By America’s Nanny Michelle LaRowe – Most every parent dreads having to take their toddler to the doctor. It’s completely understandable when you consider the long waits, the possibility of going home with more germs than you came with, and the unpredictability of how your toddler will react when the doctor finally enters the room. While sick visits fall into a category of their own, even those scheduled well visits are enough to make the calmest parent a little on edge.
Fortunately, you can take some steps to make the experience a little more pleasant for everyone. The next time you’re heading to the doctor, toddler in tow, consider these 5 tips.
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1. Schedule appointments when your child is well rested and well fed. Taking a tired, hungry toddler to an unfamiliar place where he can’t run free is a recipe for disaster. While the receptionist will always offer the first available appointment (or the appointment that’s most convenient for them), don’t be shy about asking for an appointment time that works around your toddlers’ schedule. Even if your child is mildly ill, it may be worth waiting for an afternoon appointment if the first one offered is smack dab in the middle of his scheduled morning nap.
2. Take advantage of the nurse’s line. If you’re not sure if you should take your toddler to the doctor, consult with the nurse prior to making the appointment. Seasoned pediatric nurses can often provide basic diagnostic and home treatment information over the phone, sometimes saving you a trip in. If you’re directed to come in, ask the nurse what you can expect at the visit.
3. Be prepared. Have a special bag packed and reserved for trips to the doctor. A sticker book, activity or coloring book, favorite stuffed toy and a special book to read can help keep your toddler occupied during the wait. If your toddler has a special comfort item, be sure to bring that along too. Remember that many offices have a no food policy, so forgo packing snacks.
4. Tell the truth. The worst thing you can do is tell your child that he won’t be getting a shot or that something isn’t going to hurt. A better approach is to reassure your toddler that the doctor is there to take care of him and to help to fix what hurts (or to help keep him healthy). If you know your toddler will be getting a shot, in a matter of fact way on the way to the office, let him know. “Johnny, I just want you to know today you may have to get a shot to help keep you healthy. It will feel like a small pinch and will only hurt for a second.” You can even role play and take turns being the doctor and the patient before going into the office. Toddlers tend to do better when they know what to expect.
5. Remain calm at all costs. There’s nothing worse than having an inconsolable toddler, than having one when everyone is watching. If your find yourself with a hysterical child in the waiting room, ask to be brought back to a private room. Comfort your child the best you can by offer reassuring words and by letting him know that you understand he’s not feeling well or that he’s scared (or whatever the case may be). Often times, your toddler will look to you to gauge how to react to the situation at hand, so try to speak in a calm, but firm voice when talking to your toddler and to the doctor.
While most parents and toddlers would agree that visiting the doctor is no picnic, it doesn’t have to be a disaster. When you take a little time to prepare yourself and your child, you’re more apt to have a successful visit and one that won’t leave a negative impression with you, your toddler or the doctor and her staff.
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