The Definitive Guide to Finding the Best Pediatrician Near Me
best pediatrician near me

A pediatrician is a doctor who specializes in the health of children, including physical, behavioral, and mental health issues, and who typically serves as a child’s primary care physician. MediFind can help you find a top pediatrician near you who is an expert in specific health conditions.

What is a pediatrician?

A pediatrician is a doctor who specializes in the health of children, including physical, behavioral, and mental health issues. They diagnose and treat childhood illnesses, from minor issues to serious diseases. Pediatricians typically see patients up to age 18, though sometimes through age 21.

At minimum, a pediatrician:

  • Has graduated from a four-year medical school
  • Has completed three years of residency training in pediatrics (the branch of medicine focused on children and childhood illnesses)
  • Has passed their board certification in pediatrics
  • Is up to date in their pediatric training and education

Pediatricians act as primary care physicians (PCP) for children. Primary care physicians are responsible for ongoing healthcare monitoring and maintenance, and are the first line of treatment. If new symptoms arise (unless it’s an emergency, in which case call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room), the pediatrician should be the first person to call. They can help you decide what to do next. A pediatrician will either treat your child themselves, or refer you to another doctor or healthcare provider for more specialized care.

It is generally recommended that parents choose a pediatrician before their baby has been born. This helps ensure the newborns get the appropriate check-ups and care in the critical period immediately after birth. It also gives you the opportunity to interview a variety of pediatricians to find the best fit for your family.

What does a pediatrician do?

A pediatrician is responsible for the general healthcare of your child through age 18-21. Your child will see a pediatrician many times over their lifetime. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends babies get checkups at birth, 3 to 5 days after birth and then at 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18 and 24 months. After that, your child will generally see the pediatrician once a year. This annual exam is usually called a “physical” or “well-child visit.”

During these visits, your pediatrician will give any vaccines that are due, check your child’s growth and development, and test hearing and vision beginning at age 4.

Specifically, a pediatrician:

  • Gives your child physical examinations
  • Gives vaccinations (also called immunizations) according to a set schedule. In the United States, this schedule is determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Evaluating your child’s physician, emotional, and social development. You may hear your physician talk about “developmental milestones,” which are sets of behaviors that pediatricians expect to see in children at different ages. In the United States, these milestones are determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Treats injuries
  • Diagnoses illnesses. Depending on the specific illness, the pediatrician will either treat it themselves, or refer you and your child to an appropriate specialist for additional testing and/or treatment
  • Prescribe medications as necessary
  • Provide general information about health, nutrition, fitness, and safety needs

What is a developmental pediatrician?

If your pediatrician believes your child may have a developmental, learning, or behavioral problem, they may refer you and your child to a developmental pediatrician. 

A developmental pediatrician (or “developmental-behavioral pediatrician”) is a pediatrician with additional training in developmental, learning, or behavioral issues in children. In the United States, developmental-behavioral pediatricians must be certified by the American Board of Pediatrics, in addition to meeting all the requirements for a general pediatrician.

Developmental-behavioral pediatricians can help manage:

How do I choose the right pediatrician?

A few things to consider when choosing a pediatrician include:

  • Certification. All pediatricians are required to have graduated from a four-year medical school, completed a three-year pediatric residency, and passed a board certification.
  • Location. Are the pediatrician’s offices convenient to your home and/or work?
  • Hours. Do the office hours work with your schedule? Are there extended hours available?
  • Hospital affiliation. Which hospital would your child be sent to, if necessary?
  • Patient population. Does the office see mostly babies and young children, mostly adolescents and teenagers, or a mix of both?
  • Telemedicine. Does the pediatrician offer online care? Is there a parent website? Are you able to send the doctor messages?
  • Office setup. Are there separate sections for sick kids and well kids?
  • Additional services. Is the office connected with a lactation consultant or nutritionist, should you need these services?
  • Insurance coverage. Is the pediatrician covered by your insurance plan?

Ultimately, the right pediatrician for your family comes down to personal choice. It’s helpful to interview a variety of pediatricians to find the doctor and office that best matches your needs. 

If you’re pregnant, it’s recommended that you begin to search for a pediatrician about three months before your baby is due. This helps make sure that you have time to meet with different pediatricians, and that you have time to choose one before your baby is born.

How do I find the best pediatrician near me?

You can search or explore the list below to find top pediatricians near you. While many people use online patient rating services such as Yelp, Healthgrades, or ZocDoc to select their primary care doctor, this recent study concludes that there is in fact no relationship between online ratings and physician quality.

When should I call the pediatrician?

You should always feel comfortable calling your pediatrician. If you’re on the fence about calling, just go ahead and do so. No issue is too small.

There are a few times when it’s even more important to call your pediatrician:

  • Fever. A high temperature can tell you that your child is fighting an infection. In young babies (under 3 months), any fever (above 100.4 degrees F) should trigger a call to the pediatrician. In older babies and children, call your pediatrician if your child has a mild fever for more than 3 days. A temperature over 104 degrees should be taken very seriously, and you should call your pediatrician immediately.
  • Vomiting or diarrhea. Especially if your child is vomiting or having diarrhea repeatedly for more than a few hours. Make sure to keep your child hydrated if they’re vomiting or having diarrhea.
  • Rash. Although most rashes will clear up on their own, if your child has pain or is lethargic along with a rash, or the rash doesn’t get better over time, you should consider calling your pediatrician.
  • Coughs and colds. Many coughs and colds will go away on their own. But if your child has a cough for more than a week or 10 days, or has trouble breathing or symptoms of an ear infection, call your pediatrician. In young babies (under 3 months), always call your pediatrician to discuss these symptoms.
  • Pain when urinating. This could be a symptom of a urinary tract infection (UTI), which could require treatment with antibiotics so it doesn’t become more serious.

If your child has serious or life-threatening symptoms, you should call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room, and alert your pediatrician.

What age should you stop seeing a pediatrician?

The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t have a firm limit on how old a child may be when seeing a pediatrician, because this depends on an individual child’s physical and mental needs. But typically, pediatricians see patients up to age 18, though sometimes they will continue seeing kids through age 21. 

As children get older, it’s helpful to check in on their preferences. Many kids have changing comfort levels as they start puberty and reach the teen years. For example, children often begin to prefer to see a doctor of the same gender as their own. 

In addition, many girls will begin to see an OB/GYN in their early-mid teen years. An OB/GYN often serves as the primary care physician instead of a pediatrician as girls get older. 

As they reach their late teens, some children find comfort in the familiar, and wish to keep seeing their pediatricians for as long as possible, while others are ready to move on to a physician who treats adults (such as an Internal Medicine physician).

How do I find a pediatrician who takes my insurance?

Annual exams (or “well-child visits”) happen once a year for kids aged 2-18. Most health insurance plans fully cover these visits, so that you pay nothing out-of-pocket unless your doctor recommends further diagnostic tests or procedures. But be sure to check with your insurance provider about your specific plan.