Finding the right pediatrician that jives perfectly with your family can be tricky. There are so many different kinds of parenting styles and techniques that finding a provider accepting of these and who’s open to your choices can be a project.
I strongly encourage parents to take the time to not only research providers, but sit down and interview them to really know who you’re choosing to be your child’s doctor. I learned this lesson with my oldest son.
I had picked a practice based on the nice on-call pediatrician that took care of my oldest while I was in the hospital giving birth. She was nice but only two months into my baby’s life, I found that we really weren’t on the same page, so I had to start all over finding someone who I was comfortable with. By that time, I found a partner in her practice that fit the mold but as time went on, he became the best provider in the group and wait times became intolerable. I recall having my youngest son in for a simple weigh-in when he was about 4 weeks old and waiting 45 minutes just to be put in a room! That was the final nail in the coffin. However, I found a new practice a couple of weeks later, and two years later, we couldn’t be any happier.
Not everyone is going to get that lucky, so I put together a list of questions for first- time parents to not only ask themselves, but to ask potential pediatricians to make the process far less painful:
1. How do you feel about vaccines? (Whether you vaccinate on schedule, delay, or don’t vaccinate at all, it’s important to not only form an educated opinion before heading in to interview, but to also find a provider who’s going to respect the choice you want to make for your child. Remember: You’re the parent and you’re in charge of their medical care.
2. Is this a solo practice or group practice?
3. Do you offer same-day sick appointments? (You may also want to ask about a separate waiting area for sick patients; many pediatrician offices have them.)
4. What are your breastfeeding recommendations? (Also: Do you routinely recommend lactation consultants, or have one who you refer patients to?)
5. What insurance do you take? (Obviously, you want to find a provider who takes your insurance if you have medical coverage.)
6. What are your opinion on parenting hot topics? (Bottlefeeding, sleep training, circumcision, alternative or holistic medicine, childhood obesity, etc.)
7. What hospitals do you have privileges at?
8. What kind of schedule do you have for well baby visits? (You may also want to ask how the provider feels about skipping well baby visits altogether.)
9. Do you return parent phone calls the same day?
10. What is your protocol for emergency calls after hours?
11. Are you a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics?
12. How long have you been practicing?
And, of course, any other questions you may have that are personally important (family history of illness, pregnancy complications, etc.) All children are different and require special requirements, so taking the time to write your own list before you head in might be a smart move.
For even more tips on how to find the best pediatrician for you and baby, check out our feature “Paging Dr. Right! 5 tips to help you find the perfect pediatrician.”