A pediatrician is a specialist medical practitioner who treats ailments in babies, infants, adolescents, and young adults. Choosing the right pediatrician for your baby is one of the important things parents need to do. But why are pediatricians so important? What exactly will they do, and more importantly, how can they contribute to your baby’s development? Get all your answers in this parent’s guide to pediatricians.

When Does Pediatric Care Begin?

Kids go through big and small physical, behavioral, and emotional changes while growing up. They have unique medical needs which a doctor who deals with adult patients cannot understand. As a result, pediatricians deal only with children and adolescents.

Pediatric care can begin even before the baby is conceived and continue up until they turn 21. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests not setting an upper age limit for pediatric care since it majorly depends on the physical and mental needs of a particular patient. Our guide to pediatricians also covers the different specialties that pediatricians pursue; read on for more.


Guide To Pediatricians: Specialties

A majority of pediatricians work as primary care physicians who conduct regular health checkups for kids. Additionally, they also diagnose and treat a wide range of general health issues and administer vaccinations, as well as give advice to parents on how to better take care of their children.

Other pediatricians either specialize in handling a particular medical condition or treat children of a specific age group. Here are some examples of pediatric subspecialties –

  1. Adolescent medicine specialists – They treat children from the age of 11 to 21 years.
  2. Critical care pediatricians – These medical practitioners usually work at a hospital’s intensive care units.
  3. Developmental behavioral pediatricians – This specialty evaluates the developmental, learning, and behavioral problems in kids.
  4. Pediatric neurologists – This kind of healthcare practitioner takes care of neurological disorders in children.
  5. Child abuse pediatricians – Such medics are specially trained in evaluating if the child has experienced abuse or neglect.
  6. Pediatric oncologists – These doctors specialize in treating various types of cancers in children.
  7. Pediatric cardiologists – Their job is to diagnose and treat heart conditions in children. They also closely work with pediatric health surgeons to finalize the best treatment strategy for the kids.
  8. Pediatric rheumatologists – They treat children and adolescents with musculoskeletal disorders.
  9. Pediatric nephrologists – These doctors are experts in treating ailments related to the kidneys and urinary tract.
  10. Neonatal-perinatal pediatricians – Such doctors treat infants before, during, and after birth. They specialize in treating premature and critically ill newborns.
  11. Pediatric gastroenterologists – These medics treat problems related to the digestive system of the child.
  12. Pediatric endocrinologists – This specialty takes care of the endocrine system of the kid and the hormones it produces. It also treats a variety of health issues including diabetes.
  13. Pediatric pulmonologists – This specialty covers children suffering from breathing issues or lung ailments.

guide to pediatricians

What Does A Pediatrician Do?

Just like any other doctor, pediatricians perform a wide range of health-related activities, but specifically for children. Here are some of the procedures they execute –

  • Physical exams
  • Vaccinations
  • Injury treatment
  • Treating fractures and dislocations
  • Evaluating a child’s physical, emotional and social development
  • Medicine prescription
  • Giving health advice
  • Tracing & treating serious medical conditions
  • Referring the ailing child to a different pediatric specialty, if needed

Pediatric specialists undertake additional courses and training programs to diagnose and treat specific medical conditions in children. Additionally, they also know how to communicate with their young patients.

When Should You See A Pediatrician?

Parents should keep taking their children to a pediatrician for periodic health check-ups. Firstly, such visits are a great way to clear your doubts about the growth of your child. Secondly, it is apparent that early detection of any disease puts the patient and the doctor in a better position to cure it completely. Pediatricians may also administer vaccinations to the child during these visits, if necessary. Finally, if you happen to have any doubts about your child’s vaccinations, your pediatricians will help you understand them better.

During your periodic visits to the pediatrician, he/she may ask questions about your child’s eating, sleeping, and social habits. This helps them to evaluate their physical, mental, and emotional development.

Most importantly, parents should immediately admit their child to an emergency room of a hospital if the child has a fever of 104°F (40°C) or over. Do the same if you notice seizures, persistent crying, or breathing trouble. Another red flag is if a baby younger than 2 years has a rectal temperature of 100.4°F (38°C).

Apart from the above points, if you feel like your child is facing any kind of health trouble, you should never delay seeing a pediatrician.


This parent’s guide to pediatricians should hopefully have cleared all your doubts. A pediatrician plays a very crucial role in the development of a newborn kid. Hence, keeping in regular touch with a pediatrician is truly essential to ensure the safety and well-being of your child. 

FAQs For Parent’s Guide To Pediatricians

What Are Some Good Guidelines For Finding A Pediatrician?

You should choose a pediatrician that you’ve found via recommendations and word of mouth, particularly from family members. Go for a pediatrician who has good reviews, and just as importantly, who has a working style similar to yours.

What Are Three Tips For Choosing A Pediatrician?

Three handy tips to choose a pediatrician are:

  • Research their credentials and consider their work experience
  • Check their reviews and ask for referrals
  • Follow your gut after the introductory visit

What Questions Do Pediatricians Ask?

Some questions your pediatrician may ask you on your regular visits are if you’ve noticed your child doing anything new, if you’ve observed any concerning behavior, if they’re eating and seeping well, and other health-related questions.

References –
[1] – Parenting and the Pediatrician
[2] – Society for Pediatric Research Presidential Address 1993: Development of the Academic Pediatrician