From a Mum

Paediatrician vs GP – which one do I need?

Bubs Australia

When it comes to the health and wellbeing of your child you can never be too careful. However, it can often be difficult to figure out whether your bub needs a GP or a Paediatrician. With the help of the Australian Government’s Raising Children Network, here’s a few of your questions answered.

Is there much of a difference between a Paediatrician and a GP?

Actually yes there is, not just in the way they treat patients but in regard to their specialties and qualifications. You can’t just ring up and see a paediatrician like you can with your general practitioner, usually you need a referral and there is often more of a cost involved.

What is a General Practitioner?

Also known as a GP, a local doctor or a family doctor, they specialise in general practice medicine and care for many different health problems in all age groups. Some have special interests in certain fields, specialities or extra qualifications in specialised medicine.

FACT: Your GP is always a good place to start if you’re worried about your child’s health or development. They can help you decide about seeing other health professionals or refer you to a specialist, such as a paediatrician.

What is a Paediatrician?

He or she is a doctor that provides specialist medical care to infants, children and adolescents. They must do an extra six years of training after they finish their medical degree to become a paediatrician. Paediatricians know a lot about the many different conditions and illnesses that can affect children’s health, welfare, behaviour and education.

They also understand how different illnesses and conditions relate to each other. Some paediatricians do general training and others specialise in area such as neonatology, cardiology, or development and behaviour.

Why your child might see a GP

A GP is the first person to visit when you have concerns about the health of your child, they can help work out what’s going on. Try to find one that you and your child trusts and feels comfortable with so you can get to know each other and talk openly without fear of judgement. It might also be easier for your GP to figure out what’s going on if they know a bit more about you and your family’s situation.

A regular GP can:

  • Provide immunisations.
  • Monitors a child’s health and development.       
  • Treat non-serious accidents such as cuts, minor bangs to head and plastering of some fractures.
  • Talk to you about personal concerns and stresses.
  • Help you avoid health problems in the first place.
  • Make referrals to other service providers and support agencies such as speech pathologists or child psychologists.

Why your child might see a Paediatrician

Your child might see a paediatrician if your GP wants a specialist opinion about your child’s health and development, or thinks your child needs specialised care and treatment. They might also see your baby immediately after birth to make sure everything is okay.

Paediatricians can help with further assessment and treatment of:

  • Asthma and allergies
  • Poor growth
  • Behaviour problems
  • Developmental delay
  • Autism and ADHD
  • Sleep problems
  • Brain conditions such as epilepsy
  • Problems with muscles and bones such as bow legs or development of dysplasia of the hip
  • Disabilities such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, Fragile X syndrome
  • Faecal incontinence or constipation

For free health information thanks to Health Direct visit or call 1800 022 222. 


About the author: Emily Toxward

When former journalist Emily Toxward isn’t wrangling her three kids she’s juggling the demands of her business Write Styling and failing fabulously at being a domestic goddess. A published writer for nearly 20 years, Emily left full-time work in 2008 to have children and write from home. Always on the go, she spends her days negotiating with an army of little people she created and visits her local Gold Coast beaches for a little sanity.


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