Your child’s pediatrician is more than a doctor – they’re a partner in your child’s upbringing. Use this guide to find the right pediatrician for you and your baby’s needs.
For first-time parents-to-be, choosing your child’s pediatrician can feel like a monumental decision – because it is! Your baby’s pediatrician will be your first line of defense anytime you have questions or concerns about your child’s health, and you’ll be spending lots of time together, especially in the first year after birth.
That’s why it’s important that you feel comfortable with your doctor and that you feel confident in the doctor’s knowledge and skill set. Fortunately, by planning ahead and asking the right questions, you can ensure that you find the right pediatrician for you – well before your child is even born.
Finding the Right Pediatrician for Your Family
We recommend beginning your search for a pediatrician before your due date, as it will put your mind at ease to have everything settled well before your baby is born. Most new parents begin by seeking out recommendations from trusted friends and family members, especially those whose parenting styles they respect and admire.
While this is a great place to start, it’s a good idea to dig a bit deeper. Ask questions about why they are so happy with their pediatrician: maybe they appreciate that the doctor gets them in and out of the office quickly, but you’d prefer a pediatrician who spends more one-on-one time with each patient. Or maybe they like that their pediatrician is eager to prescribe antibiotics, but you’re not convinced that’s a good thing. You should also ask more objective questions: what is the waiting room like? Is there plenty of parking? How does their child respond to the doctor?
Once you’ve created a short list of potential pediatricians, you can narrow it down further by calling the office and asking technical questions, like whether or not they take your insurance and how many doctors share the office space.
Choosing a Pediatrician
Once you’ve created a list of pediatricians that you think may be a good fit, it’s time to begin conducting interviews. We recommend visiting the pediatricians’ offices in person so that you can get a genuine feel for the practice. Most pediatricians – including ours – offer free consultations for new patients.
Come to each appointment with a list of questions you want to ask each doctor. These may include:
- •What is your medical background?
- •Do you have a certain subspecialty? If so, what is it?
- •How can patients reach you after hours in an emergency?
- •If I have a minor question, what is the best way and time to get in touch?
- •Who will handle my questions if you’re not available?
- •Does the clinic where the doctor practices require vaccination for all patients?
It’s also a good idea to ask specific questions about the doctor’s child-rearing philosophy as well. These may include topics like how long you should breastfeed your baby or how you should go about disciplining your child. Ideally, your approaches to raising children will align.
You may also consider how your own personality meshes with the doctors. While that factor may seem unimportant or trivial, if you find your child’s pediatrician unpleasant, rude, or condescending, you’ll be more reluctant to call or visit them, which may have an adverse effect on your child’s health.
With this information in hand, you should be equipped to make a decision — but remember that this decision isn’t binding! If you later decide that your child’s pediatrician isn’t meeting your needs, you are free to change doctors at any time.
Looking for a new pediatrician? Kids’ Health has expert doctors who pride themselves on creating a warm, welcoming environment for patients and their parents. Contact the office today to schedule a free consultation.