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Working with Your Pediatrician

Plush toy giraffe with stethascopeDoctors who are trained in pediatrics (or health care for kids) are called pediatricians. Your pediatrician has special skills to take care of your child’s health, including physical, behavior, and mental health issues. They’re trained to diagnose and treat childhood illnesses, from minor health problems to serious diseases.

What Does Your Pediatrician Do?

The pediatrician will see your child many times from birth to age 2, then once a year from ages 2 to 5. These are called “well-child visits.”

After age 5, your pediatrician will likely continue to see your child every year for annual checkups. They’re also the first person to call whenever your child is sick.

To take care of your child, your pediatrician will:

  • Do physical exams
  • Give your child vaccinations
  • Make sure she meets milestones in growth, behavior, and skills
  • Diagnose and treat your child’s illnesses, infections, injuries, and other health problems
  • Give you information about your child’s health, safety, nutrition, and fitness needs
  • Answer your questions about your little one’s growth and development
  • Refer you to specialists if they think your child needs expert care

How Does Your Pediatrician Work with Your Delivery Team?

Most hospitals ask if you have a pediatrician when you go in to deliver. Your baby’s first examination may be with a hospital pediatrician or your chosen pediatrician. It depends on the hospital’s policy and whether your newborn’s doctor makes rounds there. If a hospital pediatrician checks your baby, they’ll send your pediatrician notes about the exam.

After you leave the hospital, your pediatrician will see your baby 48 to 72 hours later, and regularly after that for checkups.

Why Do You Need a Pediatrician?

One thing to keep in mind: Family medicine doctors are also an option for your child. They look after the health of your whole family — kids and grown-ups alike. It’s a personal choice whether you use one or a pediatrician.

Some reasons to go with a pediatrician are:

  • They have special training in children’s health.
  • They only see children in their practice, so they have a lot of experience in recognizing and treating childhood illnesses.
  • If your child was born early or has a health condition that needs close monitoring, a pediatrician may offer more specialized care.

The Importance of Immunizations for Children and Adults

Vaccination is one of the best ways parents can protect infants, children and teens from 16 potentially harmful diseases. Vaccine-preventable diseases can be very serious, may require hospitalization, or even be deadly – especially in infants and young children.