Do you have a toddler who has never been for an eye exam before? Perhaps they had one during infancy, but now that a few years have passed, it’s time for another exam. Did you know that optometrists recommend a child gets their first eye exam at age 6-12 months, then again at three years old, and yearly after that? This can come as a surprise to many parents, especially if you’re under the assumption your child’s vision is fine.
Just like with anything else that is new, however, taking a toddler to their first eye exam can cause stress. Toddlers may fear what they don’t know or haven’t experienced, and this can make for an unpleasant appointment all around. However, we’ve got some tips that can help make your toddler’s first eye exam stress-free.
Discuss the Appointment with Your Toddler
While you may think the best plan is to remain quiet about their upcoming appointment until they are there in the office, waiting to be seen, this probably isn’t the best approach. By discussing the eye appointment in advance, you’ll get a chance to explain what happens at an eye exam and answer any questions they may have.
To help make things less scary and confusing, try picking up a couple of books that focus on doctor appointments – specifically eye exams. There are many kids’ books about eye health, visiting the eye doctor, and what it’s like to wear glasses. The idea is that you make things seem fun, interesting, and not at all scary. The more you normalize the appointment, the less stress will be involved.
Choose a Kid-Friendly Optometrist
It’s also very important you pick the right optometrist to take your toddler to, as it needs to be an office that offers pediatric services. Not only will a pediatric optometrist have training and experience with children, but the office will be a more child-friendly environment which can help cut down on stress.
It’s especially important to book an eye exam if your child is experiencing any sort of eye issues or concerns. In some cases, your toddler may even need eyeglasses to correct the issues. Because it can be tricky to find glasses that fit small faces, offices such as Andover Family Optometry will conduct the eye exam and fill prescription eyeglasses on-site at its in-house optical lab. An all-in-one solution saves parents time, stress, and frustration.
Be Smart About the Time of Day You Book
When booking an appointment, be picky about the time of day. There is likely a time of day your child tends to be most alert, happy, and easy-going – that’s the time of day you’ll want to book the appointment. Avoiding things like mealtimes or nap time would be wise as you could have a grumpy and uncooperative toddler on your hands otherwise. In terms of how long the exam will take, typically they are 30-60 minutes so you can factor that into the timing.
Pack a Comfort Item for the Appointment
If your child has a comfort item that soothes and relaxes them, it’s a good idea to bring it along to the appointment. That could include a favorite stuffed animal, blanket, or even a book that they have an attachment to. Anything that feels familiar and comforting will do the trick and help to keep them calm. However, any pediatric optometrist will be well-versed with toddlers who want to bring a special item into the appointment room.
Use Positive Talk to Prep Them
While it may be tempting to say things such as, “Be good or the doctor will get mad”, this will set a negative connotation for the day and even the doctor themselves. You want to use positive talk only so that they feel confident and reassured.
Will They Need Drops in Their Eyes?
As an adult, you are probably familiar with the drops put in your eyes to cause your pupils to dilate for an eye appointment. This allows the optometrist to properly examine your eyes. Many parents worry and question if this will be necessary for their toddler, as getting them to sit still for the drops isn’t always easy. You can always ask the office in advance, but chances are the drops will be needed. Again, this is why a family-friendly office that is used to these types of concerns and challenges makes sense.
Thanks to all of these effective tips, taking your toddler to the eye doctor for the first time doesn’t have to be a major source of stress.