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When your baby is born, you will start taking him to see a paediatrician (www.caringforkids.cps.ca/healthy-bodies/Paediatricians.htm) or family doctor for his ongoing health care. As your child grows and develops, you’ll likely turn to your child’s doctor – and sometimes other health care providers such as a public health nurse – with questions or concerns.
Paediatricians and family doctors both provide care for babies, children and adolescents. They do routine care (check-ups, immunizations, and so on) and see children when they are sick. In some cities and towns, all routine care is provided by a family doctor, while in other places, children see paediatricians for their regular care.
Ask friends and family members with children about their paediatricians.
Each province has a college of physicians and surgeons, which grants licenses to doctors to practice. Many of the colleges have referral services to help people find doctors (www.caringforkids.cps.ca/resources/FindADoctor.htm) accepting new patients.
Babies are usually checked by a health care provider within the first week of going home from the hospital. At this first visit your health care provider will:
This first visit doesn’t have to be with your regular paediatrician or family doctor. Sometimes it is done by a doctor at the hospital where you gave birth, your midwife or a public health nurse. It can be done at home, in the office or in a hospital clinic. If your baby doesn’t see her regular doctor at this visit, it will happen soon after.
“Well-baby” or “well-child” visits are a lot like your annual check-ups, but focus on your child’s age and stage of development.
Your baby’s first visit to the doctor is usually by 2 months. Regular visits will follow at 4, 6, 9, 12 and 18 months, 2 years, and then once every year until 5 years of age. When your child is 5 years old, she will see her doctor every 1 or 2 years until she is 18 years old.
A well-baby/child visit usually lasts 10 to 20 minutes. Your doctor and her staff will:
Older children and adolescents may be seen without a parent or guardian in the room for part of the visit.
If you have questions or concerns that could take longer than the regular 15-minute visit, let them know when you schedule the appointment. That way, enough time can be scheduled to answer your concerns.
If you have any questions about your child’s health between regular office visits, call your doctor’s office. Your doctor’s receptionist or nurse will be able to help you with minor problems and decide if you need to see the doctor.
Most provinces have health phone lines where you can speak to a registered nurse about general health information. Nurses can help you assess your child’s symptoms and decide your best first step.
Reviewed by the CPS Public Educations Subcommittee and the Community Paediatrics Committee.
This information should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your physician.
All Canadian Paediatric Society documents are reviewed, revised or retired as needed on a regular basis. Please consult the Caring for Kids Web site (www.caringforkids.cps.ca) for the current version. May be reproduced without permission and shared with patients and their families.