Now that you’re settling into your pregnancy and enjoying your adorable growing bump, it may be time to start thinking about choosing a pediatrician. You’ve undoubtedly made choices on a crib, a car seat, a bouncer, and perhaps a sling. You have strolled the baby aisles in search of monitors, blankets, and tiny booties. Perhaps you’ve even settled on a name. But have you chosen your baby’s pediatrician? If not, here are some tips to help get you started. After all, if chosen carefully, your baby’s pediatrician could very well be with you and your family for years to come.
Ask friends and family
Ask trusted family members and friends in your area for names of pediatricians they like. Don’t be afraid to ask around. Get several names so you have a pool of pediatricians to choose from.
Check their background
Once you have some doctors’ names, start checking their background. Find out where they went to medical school, where they completed their pediatric residency, and whether or not they are board-certified in pediatrics. Pediatricians who maintain their board certification stay up to date on the latest medical advances and treatment policies. You can check board-certified status by logging onto The American Board of Pediatrics and searching a doctor’s name.
Think about your parenting philosophies
You don’t have to ascribe to a particular parenting label such as attachment, free range, helicopter, or, most recently, tiger mom. However, have some idea about where you stand on breastfeeding, vaccines, infant sleep, co-sleeping, and baby wearing. Don’t worry, you don’t have to have it all figured out because, believe me, things will change along the way. As long as you have a general feeling for where you stand on these topics, this will help you when the time comes to discuss them with your potential pediatrician.
Furthermore, by knowing where you stand on various parenting and health issues, you can choose a like-minded pediatrician. Bear in mind it is best to choose a pediatrician well-versed in various parenting techniques, and one who is open to other parenting styles and ideas. Choosing a pediatrician that will grow with you as well as with your baby is of utmost importance.
Think about your personality
Are you someone who prefers direction and to have information laid out for them? Or are you someone who likes to collaborate and come to a decision together? By knowing where you stand personality-wise, you will be much more skilled in choosing a pediatrician that matches your personality needs.
In addition, does it matter to you whether your pediatrician is male or female? Do you want a pediatrician who has kids of their own? By answering these questions for yourself, you will be able to narrow down the playing field.
Do an interview
This is probably the most crucial step before deciding on a pediatrician. The information you will glean by simply meeting a pediatrician will be invaluable. First of all, you will see firsthand how their clinic is run, what the staff is like, and how the place feels to you. Honestly, a pediatrician can look perfect on paper, then you get there and you’re left feeling deflated because it didn’t feel right. Trust your instincts and move on.
Remember to ask about important parenting issues and how she would handle them. Find out whether she is accessible by phone or e-mail. Do they offer after-hour urgent care, and what is their hospital affiliation?
Above all, remember to relax and keep an open mind; this is the time to see if you and your potential pediatrician click.
As you embark on your pediatrician search, keep in mind that this will be the person you turn to when you’re unsure if breastfeeding is working, the one you’ll ask for advice on how to get your child to sleep at night, and the one you’ll trust to accurately diagnose and treat your sick child. Take your time. Ask questions and use the best tool already at your disposal: your motherly instinct.