Your Child's Checkup: 6 Years
What to Expect During This Visit
Your doctor and/or nurse will probably:
3. Ask questions, address concerns, and offer advice about your child's:
Eating. Schedule three meals and one or two nutritious snacks a day. Serve your child a well-balanced diet that includes lean protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and low-fat dairy. Kids this age should get 2 cups (473 ml) of low-fat milk daily (or equivalent low-fat dairy products). Limit foods and drinks that are high in sugar and fat, and offer no more than 6 ounces (180 ml) of juice per day. If you have a picky eater, keep offering a variety of healthy foods for your child to choose from. Kids should be encouraged to give new foods a try, but don't force them to eat them.
Bathroom habits. Bladder and bowel control should be mastered by this age. Bedwetting is a problem that is more common in boys and deep sleepers. In most cases it ends on its own, but talk to your pediatrician if it continues past the 7th birthday.
Sleeping. Kids this age generally need about 10–11 hours of sleep per night. Lack of sleep can cause behavior problems and make it difficult to pay attention at school. Set a bedtime that allows for adequate sleep and establish a relaxing bedtime routine.
Physical activity. Children this age should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day. Limit screen time, including TV, DVDs, video games, smartphones, tablets, and computers, to no more than 2 hours per day of quality children's programming.
Development. By 6 years, it's common for many kids to:
- tandem walk (walk heel-to-toe)
- tie their shoes
- start reading, spelling, and performing simple addition and subtraction
- write their first and last name and short sentences
- begin to know the difference between fantasy and reality
4. Perform a physical exam with your child undressed while you are present. This will include listening to the heart and lungs, observing motor skills, and talking with your child to assess language skills.
5. Update immunizations. Immunizations can protect kids from serious childhood illnesses, so it's important that your child receive them on time. Immunization schedules can vary from office to office, so talk to your doctor about what to expect.
Here are some things to keep in mind until your next routine visit at 7 years:
- Praise your child's accomplishments and provide support in areas where he or she is struggling.
- Reinforce rules and set appropriate limits. At this age, it's normal for children to test the boundaries of established rules. Decide which rules can be eased and which must remain in place.
- Teach your child the skills needed to cross the street independently (looking both ways, listening for traffic), but continue to help your child cross the street until age 10 or older.
- Make sure your child always wears a helmet when riding a bike (even one with training wheels). Do not allow your child to ride in the street.
- Make sure playground surfaces are soft enough to absorb the shock of falls.
- Always supervise your child around water, and consider enrolling your child in a swimming class.
- Apply sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher on your child's skin at least 15 minutes before going outside to play and reapply about every 2 hours.
- Limit your child's exposure to secondhand smoke, which increases the risk of heart and lung disease.
- Keep your child in a belt-positioning booster seat until he or she is 4 feet 9 inches (150 cm) tall, usually between 8 and 12 years of age.
- Teach your child what to do in case of an emergency, including how to dial 911.
- Protect your child from gun injuries by not keeping a gun in the home. If you do have a gun, keep it unloaded and locked away. Ammunition should be locked up separately. Make sure kids cannot access the keys.
- Discuss appropriate touch. Explain that certain parts of the body are private and no one should see or touch them. Tell your child to come to you if he or she feels uncomfortable about this, is ever asked to look at or touch someone else's private areas, or is asked to keep a secret.
These checkup sheets are consistent with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)/Bright Futures guidelines.