Does my child need a pediatrician?

Pediatricians specialize in children, but do all children need pediatricians? When you’re looking for a primary care physician for your little one, consider what Baby needs and what different healthcare providers will be able to offer. 

Your child’s primary care physician could be a pediatrician, but you could also choose a family physician or a pediatric nurse practitioner. These three types of health professionals have many of the same qualifications with minor differences in what care they can provide. Any primary care provider will be checking these things at Baby‘s appointments:

  • Physical health: Baby will get immunizations, have their height and weight measured, and have their hearing and vision tested.
  • Emotional and social development: Your provider will check on Baby‘s milestones, talk about their behavior with you, and track things like smiles, socialization, and how they express their needs. As Baby gets older and has more complex emotional and social needs, your provider will be knowledgeable about how they have developed while talking about things like temper tantrums or self-esteem.
  • Preventive care: Many of your appointments with your primary care physician will be “well-child visits,” where your provider can talk to you about sleep, nutrition, and ways to keep Baby healthy. 

For all of this, you can look to a pediatrician, a family physician, or a pediatric nurse practitioner. A pediatrician is a doctor who has been specially trained in the physical, mental, and social health of children.

A family physician is also a doctor who has been trained in pediatric medicine, though it wasn’t a concentrated specialty, and has the benefit of being able to see your child through adulthood.

A pediatric nurse practitioner is a nurse with a master’s degree who can give your child care (exams, diagnoses, prescriptions, treatment) and possibly spend more time with you and your child than a doctor would be able to.

There are different benefits depending on which healthcare professional you choose, but any provider will be dedicated to your child and making sure they are healthy and happy. Check out the different providers in your area to find the best fit for you and Baby.

  • “Finding a doctor for your new baby.” Kids Health. Nemours. 2016. Web.
  • “AAP Schedule of Well-Child Care Visits.” American Academy of Pediatrics. December 18, 2015. Web.
  • “Well-child visits.” MedlinePlus. U.S. National Library of Medicine. February 5, 2015. Web.
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