Why Your Child Needs a Doctor

Why Your Child Needs a Doctor

Lee esto en EspañolYou have a strong partner to help keep your child healthy. It’s your child’s primary care provider. Having that relationship in place builds a strong base for your child’s care.

Partners in Care

Once you establish a primary care provider (PCP) for your child, you have a consistent partner in keeping your child healthy. Your child’s PCP may be a pediatrician, family doctor or nurse practitioner.

You can turn to your child’s PCP for any health care your child needs. You have someone to call for a routine health exam or if your child has a fever, cough or earache.

Your child’s PCP can also help you make sure your child gets the right preventive care. Preventive care helps keep children from getting sick in the first place. By planning and keeping preventive care visits, your PCP can help:

  • Track your child's health
  • Watch your child's growth and development
  • Give you tips about how to prevent injuries and keep your child safe
  • Offer a referral to a specialist, if needed 

Your child’s PCP is also a resource for other health issues. You can talk about:

  • Eating habits and exercise
  • Behavioral and emotional issues
  • How to seek care for learning or other disabilities

Well-child visits take in specific questions about your child's development and behavior. Your PCP will do certain health screenings at certain ages. Some things that may be checked include:

  • Body Mass Index (BMI)
  • Blood pressure
  • Hearing
  • Eyesight

Wellness visits are also vital because they often involve getting needed immunizations on time. That protects your child 24/7. If children don’t have their shots, they are at greater risk for some serious diseases. They could also spread those diseases to their friends and family.

Children need vaccines to stay healthy, from when they are babies to their teens. Your PCP may remind you about them during an annual well-child visit.

Vaccines are a reliable way to prevent diseases. Many of them work by exposing your body to a very small amount of weak or dead versions of germs or viruses. Your immune system then builds up resources to fight those bugs in the future. Vaccines have slowed or stopped the spread of polio, measles, mumps and other diseases in the U.S.

Getting vaccinated also helps protect other people. Some people, such as very young babies, pregnant women, and those getting care for cancer or other health problems, might not be able to get some vaccines. One way to protect them is to make sure people around them are fully vaccinated. That lowers the chance of spreading these diseases. If you have questions, talk to your PCP or your child’s PCP.

Wellness Guidelines: An Easy Path to Better Health

We offer new Wellness Guidelines each year that include specific recommendations for preventive care, immunizations and screenings for adults and children. Check out the Wellness Guidelines to find out what preventive care you and your family need to stay healthy.

Sources: Talking to Your Child’s Doctor,   kidshealth.org, 2017; Family-centered Care,   American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP); Schedule of Well-Child Care Visits,   AAP, 2018

Originally published 3/2/2021; Reviewed 2022