Home > Pregnancy > Prenatal Health and Nutrition > Tests and Appointments > Age Cut-Off for Visiting a Pediatrician?

Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Age Cut-Off for Visiting a Pediatrician?

Pediatrics Expert Advice from Henry Bernstein, M.D.

Q: At what age do you consider transferring a child from a pediatrician to a family practitioner? My son is 16 and is beginning to be uncomfortable going to a "baby" doctor.

A: There is not an exact age that is appropriate for changing to an "adult" doctor. It really is a personal decision that you and your son can make together. Although many consider pediatricians as "baby" doctors, pediatricians are well trained specialists in the care of newborns, children, and adolescents, often until they finish college. Some pediatricians even take care of young adults with chronic diseases with whom they have long established relationships, since diagnoses were made when the patients were young.

As I'm sure you're experiencing, adolescents are unique. They are a special population that requires more health supervision during this critical period in their lives. Your child needs to build a partnership with his doctor, so he can be prepared for the future. There needs to be a good discussion about physical development, sexual development, healthy habits, how life is with his friends, how he feels about being successful, and his life in the future. We certainly want your son to be well educated about the importance of preventing substance abuse, maximizing his mental health, and developing healthy habits.

What is most important is that your son always be linked to a medical home offering appropriate health services. I recommend he continue getting health supervision by any health professional he feels comfortable with and has confidence in, so that issues and opportunities necessary to care for him are tailored to meet his individual needs.

More on: Expert Advice

Henry Bernstein, M.D., is currently the associate chief of the Division of General Pediatrics and director of Primary Care at Children's Hospital, Boston. He also has an academic appointment at Harvard Medical School.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks


Top 10 Free Homework Help Websites
Is helping your child with homework more frustrating and confusing than ever before, thanks to the new Common Core standards? Check out the best free homework help websites to boost kids' success in math, science, English, and more.

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

11 Fantastic Fall Apple Desserts
Nothing says fall like the smell of an apple dessert baking in the oven. Use up your family's surplus of apples with our 11 favorite apple dessert recipes.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!