Updated: Mar 3, 2019
There are many decisions parents need to make when expecting their first child. Among the most important is choosing a pediatrician. Your child’s doctor is someone with whom you may have a relationship that last years, even decades if you have more than one child. The Parenting Network talked to several parents and compiled their suggestions:
1) Start the search while you’re pregnant. “I interviewed two doctors within a few miles of my home. While they were both nice, I felt more of a connection with one because his wife was expecting a few weeks before me. That was over ten years ago and I appreciate that he is personally in touch with the exact developmental age of my son because he is experiencing the same thing with his own son.”
2) Do your research. Ask other parents, ask your obstetrician or family practitioner, and make Google your best friend. “I accepted a new job in another state when our daughter was six months old. I made a habit of seeking out parents with young children in the grocery store and in the park to ask about their pediatricians. Within a few weeks, we found a doctor that we loved!”
3) Make a list of questions beforehand. Don’t be afraid to ask about hot topics such as immunizations, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, antibiotics, circumcision, pacifiers, and anything else you feel is important. “I wanted to make sure that the doctor I choose shared my concerns about the overuse of antibiotics. That was important to me.”
4) Start on the same page with your pediatrician’s suggestions for resources at home. “I asked my pediatrician for a recommendation for a health reference book to have on hand at home. He showed me one that he uses on a regular basis. When my daughter was an infant, I was checking that book several times a week.”
5) Decide what’s important for your family in terms of logistics. Consider the location, office hours, staffing capacity, insurance coverage, and hospital rights before making a selection.
6) Go with your gut. Your pediatrician is someone with whom you will discuss personal decisions, seek out in crisis situations, and most importantly, trust with the health matters related to your children. You want someone who is knowledgeable, patient, understanding, available, and responsive. “Sometimes I have to wait past our scheduled appointment time, but I don’t mind because I know that I will have our doctor’s full attention during our appointment. She calls me back in a prompt manner, and I really feel like a partner in my child’s heath care.”
7) Your decision may not be final. Sometimes doctors retire, families move, or parents decide they want to switch pediatricians. “I liked our first pediatrician, but after a few visits in which I felt rushed and the clinic staff were less than friendly with my son, I decided to shop around. We have now been with our current pediatrician for four years (and two more children!) and couldn’t be happier. The decision to change doctors was the right one for our family.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics offers excellent insight into finding a pediatrician for your family. You may want to bookmark their healthychildren.org website for any questions that may arise once you baby arrives.