What is a Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician?

Is there a difference between a Pediatrician and a Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician? In a simple word – yes.

A Pediatrician is a medical doctor (MD) who is specifically trained to care for children (from birth through teen years). If you have a baby, child, or a teenager, you have probably had her seen by a Pediatrician for her healthcare needs. This would include well-care visits as well as sick visits.

But if your child has any kind of need beyond the “typical” health issues common for her age, you might wish for her to see a pediatric specialist. A Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician (DBP) is a Pediatrician with advanced specialty training in the physical, emotional, behavioral and social development of children.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says “Developmental-behavioral pediatricians are medical doctors who have completed
• Four years of medical school
• Three years of residency training in pediatrics
• Board certification in pediatrics
• Additional subspecialty training in developmental-behavioral pediatrics
In 2002, the American Board of Pediatrics began certifying developmental-behavioral pediatricians via a comprehensive examination process.”

When should your child see a Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician?

If you have concerns about your child’s development in any area – social, emotional, behavioral or developmental – you should ask your child’s health care provider about consulting with a DBP. Often a Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician works with a team of pediatricians or pediatric health care providers. This team approach can provide a more in-depth perspective for a parent, which will ultimately help your child be the best that she can be.

You may benefit from having your child see a DBP if your child has (or you think she may have):

• Delayed speech and/or trouble understanding language
• Delayed motor skills (crawling, walking, eating, riding a bicycle)
• Poor social skills
• Trouble sleeping (including bedwetting)
• Trouble feeding or eating
• Sensory sensitivities
• Trouble at school (paying attention; learning to read, write or do math)
• Cerebral Palsy
• Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or ADD (without hyperactivity)
• Learning disabilities
• Anxiety disorder
• Depression
• Tics or Tourette Syndrome
• Spina Bifida
• Autism Spectrum Disorder
• Intellectual disability
• Other chronic conditions, serious illnesses, or complications due to prematurity

A Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician may suggest additional testing or input from other pediatric specialists or therapists. Then, she will review the results and take all the different pieces of the puzzle and put them together to make a plan of action. The result is a comprehensive evaluation with treatment recommendations which will give your child the best chance at making progress.

The AAP has a great one-page sheet that describes all of the ways that a DBP can help you and your child.

How do you find a DBP?

To find a Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician near you, visit AAP’s physician locator or ask your child’s health care provider for a referral.

Bottom Line

Often a visit with a Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician will help to clarify complex issues. If your child is having difficulty in an area, it may be very beneficial to gain the insight from another pediatric specialist.


This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January and appears every Wednesday. Go to News Moms Need and click on “Help for your child” on the menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date. As always, we welcome your comments and input.


  • comment-avatar
    Shraddha Atul Manek August 10, 2017

    My daughter is having attention sparz is poor, writing speech is slow, difficulty in following instructions in class