What they are
Allopathic doctors (MDs) and osteopathic doctors (DOs) attend medical school, complete a pediatric residency program, and can become board-certified by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Both types of docs are licensed to perform surgery and prescribe medication, but DOs receive additional training in manipulation, a hands-on treatment that stimulates the body’s own healing system, yielding a slightly more holistic approach.
What to expect
At well visits, a conventional doc will give your child a physical and check his height and weight. She’ll also ask questions about sleep habits, and growth and development (Is he riding a bike yet? How does her speech sound?). Nutrition is another area the doctor should emphasize: “You sometimes hear alternative health practitioners say that conventional doctors don’t talk about nutrition, but that’s not true. Nutrition is so important for growth and development in kids, and it should be part of a basic exam,” says Tanya Remer Altmann, M.D., author of Caring for Your Baby and Young Child, Birth to Age 5. Speaking of illnesses: To treat them, conventional pediatricians do prescribe medications like antibiotics, but surprisingly, that’s usually not their first choice, Altmann says. “Most children’s illnesses are viral, and those will go away with enough time, fluids, and sleep,” says Altmann. “But when a child does needs antibiotics, they’re a big help.” Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends immunization for all babies and children, so conventional pediatricians are almost always in favor of vaccinations.
What to look for
Most conventional pediatricians are board-certified, which is exactly what you want. Beyond that, look for someone you’re comfortable with: Before bringing your child in for an exam, it’s a good idea to have a short meeting with a new doc- tor to find out how you can reach her at night or on the weekends, and whether she shares your philosophy on issues like vaccines and breastfeeding, says Altmann.
Are they covered by insurance?
Yes. As part of the Affordable Care Act, all health insurance plans must cover pediatric well-visits, including physicals, immunizations, hearing and vision screenings, and developmental and behavioral screenings.