How Often Do You See a Pediatrician for Your Children?
What do pediatricians do?
Pediatricians help keep children healthy by regularly checking their growth and development. They help prevent illness by giving vaccinations and general health advice.
And when children do get sick or hurt, they treat a wide range of common illnesses and injuries.
Some pediatricians are primary care physicians. This means they’re your first stop for general medical care and wellness visits. Other pediatricians specialize. The Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, for example, lists more than 30 pediatric specialties, including:
- oncology: the treatment of childhood cancers
- neurology: the treatment of childhood brain and nervous system disorders
- otolaryngology: the treatment of childhood ear, nose, throat, and neck problems
- neonatology: the treatment of babies born premature
- allergy and immunology: the treatment of childhood food and environmental allergies and problems with the immune system
- rehabilitative medicine: physical and occupational therapy for children
- cardiology: the treatment of childhood heart conditions
Why Should You Visit a Pediatrician for Your Child’s Health?
There’s really nothing more important to a parent than their child’s health and wellness. Still, you might be considering using a family practice doctor as your child’s primary care provider or even just taking them to urgent care if they become sick or get injured. This can be a mistake.
A dedicated pediatrician is always the best choice for your child’s healthcare. Here are some very good reasons why you should establish care with a pediatrician to ensure your child’s continued health.
Pediatricians Are Specialists
Of course, children aren’t simply miniature adults. They have unique medical needs at every stage of life. Their healthcare providers need to be well-versed, trained, and experienced in dealing with their unique problems and needs.
Pediatricians, although primary care providers, are also specialists. In addition to medical school, pediatricians have completed a residency of several years and have experience with all aspects of childhood health. This includes growth and development, immunizations, common childhood diseases, and inherited disorders.
Pediatricians are Accustomed to Treating Children
While a family medicine doctor sees kids and adults of all ages, pediatricians exclusively treat babies, toddlers, kids, and adolescents. This allows them to focus their education, training, and practice on the needs of kids. A good pediatrician has dealt with fear of needles, fear of doctors, temper tantrums, and worried parents. They know how to put kids at ease, and they are patient with parents’ questions.
Furthermore, a pediatrician will know when your child needs to see a specialist. If there’s a disease or disorder that needs the attention of a specialist, your child’s pediatrician will be able to make a referral among their colleagues. This can be invaluable when your child needs specialized care.
Pediatricians Are Knowledgeable about Your Child’s Mental Health
Pediatricians don’t solely treat problems with the body—they are also trained in children’s mental health. If your child suffers from anxiety, depression, ADHD, autism, etc., your pediatrician is an excellent first point of contact. In many cases, they’ll be able to diagnose and treat the problem. Furthermore, if the issue is beyond their range of expertise, they can make an appropriate referral to a child psychiatrist or psychologist.
Pediatricians Have Hospital Connections
If your child needs surgery or a hospital stay, they’ll need an admitting physician. Sometimes this may be the surgeon or a pediatric hospitalist. However, most pediatricians have admitting privileges at a children’s hospital or at least a nearby hospital with a good pediatric ward. These connections ensure that your child receives specialized pediatric treatment during their hospital stay at a facility equipped to handle young patients.
Pediatricians Are Dedicated to Children
After medical school, a physician can choose to do their residency in multiple specialties, some of which are extremely lucrative. In almost every case, pediatricians choose pediatrics because they love children and want to see them live better, healthier lives. While all doctors are concerned about their patients’ well-being, pediatricians are solely dedicated to improving the quality of life for children.
How Often Do You See a Pediatrician for Your Children?
The answer depends on the child’s health and age. Generally speaking, a healthy child who is at least two or three years old will need to see their doctor only once a year for a check-up. Younger children will need to go more often.
A newborn baby should see their pediatrician three to five days after birth. They should go again when they have reached the following ages:
- One month old
- Two months old
- Four months old
- Six months old
- Nine months old
- 12 months old
- 15 months old
- 18 months old
- 24 months old
Babies are fragile, and their immune system is not fully developed. There are also a number of birth defects that may not be readily apparent when the child is born. Frequent visits to the pediatrician will give the doctor many opportunities to examine the child and catch potential problems early. Similarly, they allow the pediatrician to administer the needed inoculations.
What Does a Wellness Exam Involve?
During the wellness exam, the doctor can check the child’s health and development. They will measure the child’s height and weight and compare the results to both the general population and the child’s family.
The pediatrician will also test the child’s heart, lungs, hearing, and vision. They will discuss any concerns that the parents have with them. For example, if the child does not seem to be sleeping well, the pediatrician can provide advice and/or reassurance.
How do I choose between a pediatrician and a family doctor?
The most obvious difference between a pediatrician and a family doctor is that pediatricians specialize in caring for babies, children, and teens, while family doctors also treat adults in the family.
For some people, it’s important for everyone in the family to be treated by the same doctor. Others might prefer a doctor who focuses on caring for children only.
This decision is ultimately a personal one. It may come down to which doctor makes you feel most comfortable.
Whether you’re looking for a pediatrician or a family doctor, it’s perfectly fine to interview doctors before you decide.
According to doctors at the Cleveland Clinic, these are some questions you should consider when choosing a pediatrician:
- What are their office hours?
- How do I reach them if my baby has an emergency after hours?
- What hospital are they affiliated with?
- How is billing handled?
- Will my child get to see the same doctor every visit?
- How friendly is the staff?
What’s the role of the pediatrician during childhood?
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that you take your baby to the pediatrician for checkups at least six times during the first year.
Between the ages of 1 and 3, your child may visit the pediatrician every three to six months. After children turn 4, they usually only need well visits once a year.
At those visits, your pediatrician will track your child’s growth, eating habits, physical and emotional development, and sleeping habits. Your child may also receive vaccinations.
Well visits are a good time to talk to your pediatrician about any concerns you have or changes you’ve noticed since the last visit.