One of the most important decisions you will make during your pregnancy is who will be your newborn’s pediatrician. You will want to know that the doctor who will be caring for your child not only understands how to treat specific ailments, but that they also have a similar idea about parenting as you.
To find the pediatrician that will work best for you, start by asking around. You can often locate a good doctor through recommendations from friends. You can also ask your OB/GYN for a recommendation or search online. One helpful resource is provided through the American Academy of Pediatrics at www.aap.org.
Next, it is important for you to check credentials. Did the doctor complete a residency in pediatrics or family medicine? Has the pediatrician gone further in the field, such as becoming certified by the American Board of Pediatrics?
Now, you should also consider location. If your baby is sick and you need to get to the doctor quickly, you don’t want a 30-minute commute. (Besides, you will have many appointments those first few months – the less driving you have to do, the easier these will be.) Author Linda Meadow says she made the mistake of choosing a pediatrician too far from her house, and it was a mistake she made sure to rectify before her third child was born.
Then, it’s important to schedule interviews with your top choices. This is a crucial part of choosing a good pediatrician. During the interview, go armed with a notebook and a set of questions. Ask the same questions to each pediatrician so you can compare notes later. The following are some good questions you might ask.
- How long after my baby is born will you visit us in the hospital for the well check?
- Will you do the check-up in my room in front of me?
- What are your views on breastfeeding versus bottle feeding?
- What are your views on vaccinations?
- How often do you do well visits?
- Do you have a waiting room that has seating for sick visits in one area and seating for well visits in another room entirely?
- What is the policy if you are not available when my baby is sick?
- What is the policy for emergency visits, such as late night fevers?
These interview questions are important because not every doctor follows a similar structured method in their practice. For example, The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests visits at two, four, six, twelve and eighteen months of age. However, some doctors suggest seeing their infant patients more regularly. Pediatrician Dr. Lawrence Kagan explains that his practice sees infants every month through nine months and then every three months until the age of two. It’s important to find the doctor that will work best for you and your infant.
As you can see, selecting a good pediatrician takes time, thought and research. Plan to begin this search when you are around four to five months pregnant. Although it will take a little work, once you have found the perfect pediatrician for your family, you’ll feel much more comfortable in the months that follow.