The image of a well-child visit with your child’s provider is simple: you go to the clinic, the provider provides anticipatory guidance and advice, checks your child’s developmental progress and whether they need any immunizations, and you take care of any additional follow-up as needed. But because of COVID-19, these visits have looked much different.

Leyla Hamizadeh, M.D., pediatrician at Children’s Wisconsin, conducted well-child visits virtually as Wisconsin’s Safer-At-Home order was in place. The visits may have looked different and involved no physical contact, but the information covered and messages given to families remained just as important.

Dr. Leyla Hamizadeh

“We’ve never done virtual visits prior to the pandemic, so it was definitely something new,” Dr. Hamizadeh said. “For our visits we covered topics such as concerns the parent might have, nutrition, sleep, vaccines the child was due for, the importance of reading while at home and more.”

Dr. Hamizadeh conducted well-child visits for children ages 4 to 18 months via video chat or phone call and covered typical health topics. The video visits allowed Dr. Hamizadeh to see the children and help out parents by answering questions and providing information and encouragement.

While pediatric primary care clinics begin to transition back to in-person appointments, one of the key messages remain strong: the importance of promoting early literacy.

“Many children are learning at home as schools and childcare centers remain closed, and it’s crucial to limit screen time and continue reading,” explains Dr. Hamizadeh. “Reading to young children helps them with cognitive development, but it can act as a breath of fresh air for parents, too.”

“We promote daily reading from an early age to help language development and to help children learn to have a life-long love of reading. Reading is especially important now because there’s elevated levels of stress for both parents and children, and reading is a great way to reduce that stress while creating a stronger bond between children and parents.”

Starting and ending a day with reading can guarantee that the day will both begin and end in a positive way.  In uncertain times, reading with children is a way to produce smiles, laughs and creativity in otherwise stressful situations.

Dr. Hamizadeh also wants parents to know that it’s OK to feel stressed and overwhelmed. It’s OK to not meet every expectation, it’s OK to not keep a regular scheduled every day and it’s OK to take some time for yourself.

When many things feel confusing and stressful, reading a book to a child is a much needed, sweet escape. As Children’s Wisconsin begins to transition back to in-person visits, Dr. Hamizadeh is looking forward to one thing that she’s missed so dearly: Handing a book to a smiling, young child.

Reach Out and Read Wisconsin by the Numbers

266: Participating clinics in Wisconsin

1,850: Participating medical providers

159,000: Children served

235,000: New books distributed