How to Choose the Right Pediatrician for Your Child

When you find out you’re having a baby, one of the MANY things you’ll need to do to prepare is find a pediatrician for your baby. I know it seems weird, shopping for a doctor for the baby you haven’t even had yet! But your ped will be there the day you deliver to do your baby’s very first check-up, and you’ll be seeing a lot of them in the first weeks of their lives. So it’s important to have this done and out of the way before the baby arrives! Every parent is going to have different criteria for what they consider a good pediatrician. The key is asking the right questions, and making sure you and your doctor (and their entire office!) are on the same page.

The best way to find a pediatrician is by asking your friends and family for recommendations.

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Your friends and family that already have kids are a great resource! They’ll be able to give you the lowdown on the stuff that you might not find out during an office visit or interview. Stuff like what the office staff is like, who the good nurses in the office are, and what the wait times can be. These are all so incredibly important, I can’t stress this enough. The last thing you want to deal with when you have a sick kiddo is a long wait and a rude nurse when you finally get in the exam room.

Ask your local mom groups on Faceb0ok.

We all know how insane Facebook groups can be. But if you want 2181267264 recommendations for a pediatrician, they are a goldmine. You can tap into the hive mind in one fell swoop, and narrow down your choices based on location, insurance, and the like. I’ve never met a Facebook mom who won’t give you eleventy thousand details about why something is good or bad, so posting in your FB groups can eliminate a lot of the legwork.

So you’ve narrowed it down to a few possibilities. Now, you need to schedule an interview.

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Image: Giphy

The majority of ped’s offices will happily schedule an interview with prospective new patients. If they don’t, well that’s a huge red flag and you want to remove their office from your list. When you call the office, just tell them you’d like to schedule an interview to meet the pediatrician and ask some questions, and tour the offices while you’re there. We interviewed four doctors before my first daughter was born, and every office was more than happy to meet with us.

Questions to ask during the interview.

This is the most important part! And it helps to have a list of what’s important to you as a parent heading into the interview. You want to avoid potentially problematic situations that may arise, so make sure you’re asking the right questions to get an idea of how this particular doctor will handle certain issues. Some of the questions you might ask:

  • What is the doctor’s educational and training background?
  • How many kids with special needs or disabilities does the doctor treat?
  • What is their policy on vaccines? This one is HUGE. We eliminated a doctor because they allowed unvaccinated patients in their practice. To each their own, but that was a major no for me.
  • In the event of an emergency, which hospitals does the doctor have privileges at?
  • Piggybacking on that: what is the communication policy in the event of an emergency, and does the office have more than one doctor on call?
  • In terms of the office: does the practice have separate waiting rooms for sick and healthy patients?
  • What are the doctor’s feelings on breastfeeding? At what point does the doctor push feeding intervention? Does the doctor have lactation training?
  • What is the average wait time for scheduled appointments? For walk-ins?
  • Ask the money questions: what insurances does the office work with? How do they handle billing (do they bill first, accept co-payments up front, or require payment and then reimburse)?
  • If you’re looking for a doctor for the long-term (into the tween and even teen years): what is their stance on sex education? Birth control? Body autonomy?

Finally, it’s important to remember: you’re not stuck with the pediatrician forever. It can take a few tries to find the right one!

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A ped may look great on paper, give you all the answers you’re looking for, and still not jibe well with your baby or child. It’s totally possible, and it happens all the time! You are not bound to the first pediatrician you use, by any means. It can take several before you find THE ONE (just like relationships, ha!). Or a situation may arise where you were unhappy with how something was handled. That happens all the time, too. Sometimes you just need to experience a pediatrician in the wild before you know whether or not they’re right for your family. So even after you’ve made your choice, don’t toss that list of contenders. Hang onto it in case you need to make a switch.

Finding a good pediatrician may not be easy, but having that peace of mind when something goes sideways can be such a life-saver. A little bit of work up front can pay off in a major way down the line.

(Image: iStock/Zinkevych)

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