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Pediatricians are doctors who manage the health of your child, including physical, behavior, and mental health issues. They’re trained to diagnose and treat childhood illnesses, from minor health problems to serious diseases.

They’ll see your child many times from birth to age 2 and once a year from ages 2 to 5 for “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

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.