If you’re a parent, you know the crucial role your pediatrician has in your child’s health and well-being. But their help can extend beyond regular check-ups and immunizations. Pediatricians and their support staff can help your whole family lead a healthier lifestyle.
Let’s begin with understanding the role of your child’s doctor. Pediatric physicians specialize in the treatment of children from birth through early adulthood (age 21 years). They provide wellness care through preventive health examinations, and diagnose and treat a wide range of both acute and chronic illnesses that may include childhood immunizations and treating injuries to providing anticipatory guidance to adolescents and young adults.
A pediatrician’s job is different every day. Pediatric physicians often work with staff, such as nurses or medical assistants, to help with providing care. They can also work for health care organizations such as in a Patient Centered Medical Home team setting, consulting with colleagues on patient care. The job typically requires long hours, and many pediatricians find themselves called to emergency situations at any time of the day or night.
Here are a few ways you can make the most of your pediatrician doctor:
- Regular check-ups: Be sure to schedule your infant, child or adolescent for their preventive health care maintenance visits as recommended. These visits provide pediatricians with the opportunity to check your child’s vital signs, growth and weight, as well as perform a physical and behavioral health screen.
- Nutrition and healthy lifestyle advice: Wondering about your child’s dietary needs or easy ways to get them active at an early age? Pediatricians can offer good dietary recommendations for children at various ages. Some pediatric offices have registered dietitians on hand who specialize in children’s nutrition. They can help you create realistic goals and suggest easy strategies to steer your child down a healthy road. If your doctor deems it necessary, they can refer you to specialists and community programs for additional advice.
- Answers to sensitive questions: Need advice on how to teach your children appropriate bathroom habits or want to know whether he or she may be hitting puberty too early? If you are a parent with an uncomfortable question, you might be worried about broaching sensitive topics for fear of being judged or embarrassed. Don’t be concerned. Your pediatrician has heard it all before and can give professional advice while providing you with peace of mind.
- Advice for the whole family: Though a pediatrician’s focus is children, they are eager to help parents live healthier lives as well since parents often shape their children’s habits. Pediatricians can recommend healthy routines for parents, knowing that they will ultimately influence the children in the house to be healthier as well.
- Mental health help: Fifty percent of long-term mental illnesses start before the age of 14. If you’re concerned about moodiness, anxiety or other worrisome behaviors, talk to your pediatrician about your concerns. Doctors are generally a good place to start when issues arise and are even able to refer your child to a specialist, if necessary.
Want to learn more about pediatric health? Explore these blogs:
- Parents: Do You Really Know When Antibiotics Are Needed?
- Pediatric Mental Health: Helping Your Child in Times of Trouble
- How Having a PCMH Pediatrician Changed this Mom’s Life
Photo Credit: Naval Service Warriors