Doctors were told yesterday to be extra vigilant for child abuse and neglect.
The new advice from the General Medical Council (GMC) is aimed at making GPs confident enough to flag up troubling cases.
It includes considering whether adults they treat pose a risk to children or if anything in a patient's life puts them at greater risk of abuse or neglect, including parents with mental health problems or addictions, domestic violence and poverty.
The GMC has also produced a short guide for parents to help them understand what they can expect from their doctor when child protection concerns are raised.
It comes after recent high-profile scares in Doncaster and Haringey, where 17-month-old Baby P died after being subjected to a lengthy period of violent abuse that went largely unnoticed by doctors and social workers.
GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said: "Child protection is a difficult area of practice, complicated by uncertainty and often very emotionally challenging.
"Parents and carers need to have full confidence that if there are any issues raised about the safety of their child, their doctor will take the right course of action.
"Part and parcel of this is making sure that doctors communicate properly with both parents and children to convey any concerns they may have."