When you take your child for a checkup, optimize your time in the doctor’s office with these nine tips.

  1. Make a list of the medicines your child is taking. Include prescription and over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, herbs, and supplements (such as protein drinks).

  2. Write down all the important facts about your child’s health, including allergies, chronic illnesses, and any past surgeries, broken bones, or emergencies so you don’t forget in the moment.

  3. Bring current health insurance cards and be aware of any co-pays.

  4. Jot down questions or concerns that you—or your child—may have about her health. Make three copies of this list:

    • one for you
    • one for your doctor
    • one to give the office manager at the front desk to update your child’s file

  5. During the appointment, speak up when you have something to say; be aware of your role as your child’s advocate. Ask questions when you don’t understand something, whether it’s a medical term or medication directions.

  6. Bring a pad and pen to take notes so you don’t forget what the doctor tells you.

  7. Make sure you (and your child if she’s old enough) understand important information, such as medication directions, how to use an inhaler or other medical devices, or what to do if your child is referred to another doctor. Check your understanding by saying, “Okay. Let me make sure I’ve got this right,” and repeat back the instructions in your own words.

  8. Remember to get school, daycare, and athletic forms signed!

  9. If you go home and realize you have an additional question, contact your doctor immediately and ask for clarification.

Sources: Children’s Hospital of New Jersey at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center (stbarnabas.com) and Say Ah! (justsayah.org).