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Ages & Stages

Your Checkup Checklist: 5 Years Old

A 5-year-old approaches the world with growing independence. Your child may want to spend more time with friends outside of your home. It's important to encourage these friendships and learning from kids their own age

The age required to attend school varies by state, but many children this age will have attended preschool and will be starting kindergarten. This is an exciting time for your child! They have started their education journey and will face new and fun challenges. If you are able, it is important to be involved in your child's education.

Your child may enjoy telling tales about events they heard about or made up. You'll notice that your child's language and speech have improved a lot. Kids this age also understand more how their body works and may become interested in sports. This can be a way to keep your child active with their peers.

Many kids at 5 years old are adventurous and will begin to test limits. They also may have an interest in the online world. It is important to set boundaries with your child and monitor their internet usage closely.

What to expect at the 5-year well-child visit

At the 5-year-old checkup, your pediatrician will ask your child questions directly. The doctor may ask about school, if they do any sports or creative activities, and what makes your child happy. This helps show your child's social and emotional development. The doctor may also ask questions about your child's friendships, eating habits, internet use and safety.

Here's what else you can expect at the 5-year well-child visit:

✅ Immunizations

Between the ages of 4 and 6 years old, your child will need several booster shots. They will receive the fifth dose of the DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis), fourth dose of the polio, second dose of the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) and second dose of the varicella (chickenpox) vaccines. Your pediatrician will recommend the influenza (flu) vaccine during flu season and discuss the latest COVID-19 guidelines.

Schools typically require proof of vaccination, and your child's pediatrician can give you this record. Some states may require additional vaccines, so check with your child's school to confirm what they will need. You can use these tips to make getting a shot less stressful.

✅ Health Screenings

Your pediatrician will perform a full physical exam on your child, which includes hearing and vision screenings. If your child does not see a pediatric dentist, then your pediatrician may also perform an oral health exam. The doctor will assess your child's fine and gross motor skills. They will also calculate and plot their body mass index (BMI). Your child may also be screened for lead exposure and other health conditions if they are at risk.

Your pediatrician may also ask about your family's food security and provide any community resources if needed.

Questions your pediatrician may ask

  • Has your child received any specialty or emergency care since the last visit? Or has your child or anyone in the family developed a new health condition?

  • Do you have any worries about your child's development or learning? What concerns you about your child's academics?

  • Do you feel safe in your home? Has your child said they do not feel safe at home or in school?

  • Are you concerned about anyone in your home drinking, smoking, or using drugs?

Questions your pediatrician may ask your child

  • What is one thing you are good at?

  • Do you have any questions about your health today?

✅ Developmental Screenings

At 5 years old, your child's movement, speech, play and learning are all evidence of their developmental skills. Kids can tell stories in multiple sentences and answer basic questions about them. They can tie knots and get dressed independently. Most children this age can hold a pencil correctly and draw a person with at least 6 body parts.

These skills are important when starting school, but teachers are most concerned about your child's social skills and language. It is extremely important that your child can get along with other children and follow directions. These skills determine school readiness and will allow your child to learn effectively in the classroom.

Your child can have big feelings when starting school, and you should bring up these to their pediatrician and teachers. Being involved in your child's education is important. Some children will struggle in school, and if your child displays signs of struggle, talk to your pediatrician. They may suggest screening for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or other learning differences.

To learn more about developmental milestones, use our motor skills tool. Make sure to share any concerns with your pediatrician. They can offer next steps and referrals for further testing. Early intervention is key to getting your child the assistance they may need.

Questions your pediatrician may ask you

  • How does your child interact with their friends? Do they take turns in games? Do you know your child's friends and their families?

  • Can your child get dressed and undressed independently?

  • How does your child interact with their teachers and other adults?

  • Does your child listen to stories and ask follow-up questions like "Why?" or "How?"

  • Does your child hold a pencil with their fingers and thumb? Can your child draw numbers and basic shapes?

Questions your pediatrician may ask your child

  • How do you feel about starting school?

  • What is your favorite activity to do outside of school?

Questions you may have

Did you know: A 5-year-old needs 10 to 11 hours of sleep per night. Having a set bedtime routine is very helpful for your child's learning and education. A rested child is ready to learn!

✅Feeding & Healthy Nutrition

5-year-old kids may spend a great deal of time outside the home. Often, this means they will be expected to make their own choices about what to eat. This can be when children's eating patterns begin to decline. But, with healthy eating practices put in place, this can be avoided.

Teaching your child about balanced meals and snacks is a great way to promote healthy eating. You can do this by providing healthy options, like fruits and vegetables, throughout the day. Then, you can let your child decide how much to eat. This helps them eat intuitively and have control over their food.

Questions your pediatrician may ask you

  • Are you consistently providing your child with healthy options?

  • Does your family eat together? It is important for mealtimes to be social, without cell phones and TV competing for attention.

  • How many glasses of water and milk does your child drink per day?

  • How active is your child?

  • How much screen time does your child get? Do you have a family media plan?

Questions your pediatrician may ask your child

  • Do you eat breakfast every day? It helps you learn better at school.

  • What are some of your favorite foods?

  • Do you ever help make food at home?

Questions you may have

  • What can I do if my child won't drink milk?

  • My child is a picky eater. What should I do?

  • What snacks can I give my child?

  • How can I make sure my child gets all their vitamins and nutrients?

✅ Safety

As your child spends more time at school and with friends, it is important to teach basic safety rules. They should also know water safety and basic swimming skills. Putting your child in swimming lessons is a good way for them to learn quickly.

Parents must also teach children street safety. There should still be an adult supervising them, but have your child stop at the curb and look both ways when crossing the street. Children should continue to use a 5-point harness car seat since most 5-year-olds are not big enough for a booster seat.

Children should also be taught the importance of personal safety. They should understand appropriate and inappropriate touch and feel comfortable coming to you to talk about any issues. Most sexual abuse comes from within the family, so teach your child about privacy and saying no.

Questions your pediatrician may ask you

  • Is your community safe for outdoor play? Do you supervise your child when outside?

  • Who watches your child when you cannot?

  • Do you have a firearm in your home? How is it stored?

Questions your pediatrician may ask your child

  • Do you always wear a helmet when you are biking or skating?

  • How do you cross the street?

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Questions you may have

  • When will my child be ready for a booster seat?

  • What is the right age to get my child a pet? What kind of pet should my family get?

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✅ Communication Tips

Your pediatrician's top priority is to attend to your concerns. They can refer you elsewhere if specialty care is needed or if it is after hours. Pediatricians can also refer you to resources available in your community.

More information

Last Updated
American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright @ 2023)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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