How to Choose a Pediatrician
As you prepare to welcome your new addition, you likely have a lot on your mind, including stocking up on supplies, baby-proofing your space, brainstorming names, and taking care of other important details. There's another critical decision to make — choosing your child's health care provider.
Finding a doctor before your baby's birth can help you feel more confident, calm, and comfortable about your child's health and well-being. We have all the tips you need for choosing a pediatrician right here.
When to Choose a Pediatrician During Pregnancy
Expectant parents usually start searching for a pediatrician three to five months before their due date. This window allows plenty of time to weigh your options and make an informed decision. You can take all the time you need to find a pediatrician, but making a decision at least a month before your little one is expected to arrive is wise.
Your pediatrician can provide guidance, advice, and support during and after your pregnancy, which is why selecting one early is ideal. During your pregnancy, you can ask questions and bring up any concerns with the pediatrician. Doing so can make you feel supported and prepared for birth.
How Do You Choose a Pediatrician?
Finding a quality pediatrician takes time and consideration, and you'll probably have a wide pool of options. As you begin the search, here are some steps for choosing a pediatrician for your newborn.
1. Consult Fellow Parents
Navigating the selection process solo is one option. However, we recommend reaching out to parents you know. They can likely offer insight into good pediatricians in your area.
You can also pick the brains of parents you don't know. Consider reading some online reviews of local pediatricians to see what others' experiences have been like. Remember to be cautious when browsing online ratings and reviews, as others' expectations and opinions may differ from yours. Additionally, ensure the site only permits feedback from actual patients.
Use your research and recommendations from others to compile a list of potential candidates to contact.
2. Consider the Location and Services Offered
Ideally, your pediatrician's office will be close to where you live. It's recommended that babies receive checkups every few months, so you'll be frequent visitors to the doctor's office!
Determine how easy each pediatrician's office is to get to. Can you walk, drive, or take public transportation? How far are you willing to travel? Will the location matter later in the child's life? For example, will you have enough time to get to the office for an appointment if your child's school is in the opposite direction and you have to pick them up first? These are all key considerations when choosing your newborn's doctor.
For greater convenience, try selecting a doctor close to your home, work, or daycare. If you don't have a vehicle, select a pediatrician with offices near a bus, train, or subway station.
Additionally, consider the services you want. Besides routine health and wellness checkups, pediatricians provide a range of services, including:
- Diagnosing and treating illnesses, injuries, and infections.
- Administering vaccines.
- Prescribing medications.
The right pediatrician should offer all of the services you're looking for so that you do not need to visit multiple doctors.
3. Call the Office to Gather More Information
Once you've compiled a list of prospects that align with your desired location and services, you can call their offices to get more information. During the call, explain your situation and what you're looking for. You can learn more about the office's services and how they can support your child's health, growth, and development.
4. Schedule Appointments to Meet With Potential Doctors
After talking to various pediatricians on the phone, you'll want to schedule appointments to meet some of them in person. They can show you around the office, introduce you to their staff, and explain their services in more detail. It's a great opportunity for you to see how they run their practice.
Questions to Ask When Choosing a Pediatrician
Before you attend this initial meeting, it's a good idea to prepare questions that may not have been covered during the phone call. Here is a list of questions to ask during your consultation.
1. Do You Take My Insurance?
Finding the perfect pediatrician only to discover they don't accept your insurance or are priced too high is a challenging and frustrating situation. To avoid this, ask about insurance early in the process. You should also find out exactly what you're responsible for, like deductibles, co-pays, or an out-of-pocket maximum.
2. Are You Affiliated With a Hospital?
Inquire whether the pediatrician is affiliated with a pediatric hospital in your area, and if so, which one. Some doctors will visit your baby shortly after their birth, but only if they're affiliated with that hospital.
3. What Is Your Educational Background Like?
Don't be afraid to ask the doctor about their qualifications and if they are board-certified, meaning they have a more extensive educational background. On top of medical school and residency programs, board-certified pediatricians have passed the rigorous American Board of Pediatrics exam.
4. What Are Your Hours and Care Protocols?
Scheduling pediatrician visits may not be as complicated if you're a stay-at-home parent. However, it might be tougher if you work and your pediatrician is only available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. This schedule may also prove challenging once your child begins school.
Instead, you may prefer a doctor with evening and weekend hours. Ask potential pediatricians about their office hours and ensure you can work around their schedule before you commit. Here are some other possible questions to ask regarding scheduling:
- Do you have telemedicine or video call options?
- Can I call in with questions at fixed times?
- How soon can I expect a call back if I leave a message on your answering service?
- Do you use electronic medical records to share information online?
Be sure to ask about their emergency protocols, as well. If your child has an emergency, will the pediatrician handle it or refer them to an urgent care center? Additionally, how do they handle acute cases? Can you make an appointment on short notice if your child has a cold, sore throat, or ear infection?
5. What Are Your Views on [X]?
Ask the pediatrician about their views on the following aspects of raising an infant:
- Formula feeding
- Alternative medicine
- Sleep training
- Potty training
Remember to choose a pediatrician with similar philosophies to your own. This can give you peace of mind in your decision and prevent conflict in the future.
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The views, statements, and pricing expressed are deemed reliable as of the published date. Articles may not reflect current pricing, offerings, or recent innovations.