Finding the right pediatrician is one of the most important decisions you will make for your baby as a new parent. The fact that it’s so important to your baby’s health can make the process harder and put you under quite a bit of pressure. Keep in mind that you will also be having a long-term relationship with your pediatrician, so this is yet another reason you should choose wisely. If you are expecting, then the best time to pick your pediatrician is 3 months prior to your due date.
Finding the best pediatrician for your baby can be a daunting task for new parents, but it doesn’t have to be.
If you are currently looking for a new pediatrician, these are the most important questions that you should be asking.
Common Pediatrician FAQs for First-Time Parents
Here are some more common questions for pediatricians that new parents often have.
What is a pediatrician?
Pediatricians are doctors that specialize in child and youth care. Most pediatricians will specialize in a specific area of child care. For example, pediatric cardiologists will focus on heart health.
What do pediatricians do?
Pediatricians provide their patients with a wide range of services for children, youth, and other members of the family. They provide primary health care, investigate, diagnose and manage acute or chronic illness, work with other healthcare professionals, among other things.
Does every child need to see a pediatrician?
Most children will have a pediatrician for their primary healthcare needs until they become teenagers. In which case, they start to go to their family doctor. Some families choose to only see their family doctor for everyone in the family. It’s up to you to decide what is best for you and your family.
Finding a Pediatrician: What Parents Should Be Looking For
There are a few key factors that you should think about when trying to choose a doctor for your baby. These factors can include:
Their proximity to you.
In the best-case scenario, you want your baby’s doctor to be close to where you live when your child is sick. And besides that, it should also be easy for you to get there. Are you able to walk, drive or take public transit, and will it be a quick trip?
Their overall availability.
Availability might not be a big deal for you if you are a stay-at-home parent, but if both you and your partner have full-time jobs things can get a little tricky. You won’t want to choose a pediatrician who is only available during your office hours. If you are set on a certain clinic, ask if there will be other doctors or nurses available if your pediatrician is not available. It’s also a good idea to understand how far in advance you need to schedule your baby’s appointments and to ask them whether they will be open in the evening or during the weekend.
How much it costs.
This is one of the most important factors, as you don’t want to fall in love with a doctor only to find out that they don’t take your insurance, or are unaffordable. It’s a great help to know how much you will be responsible for. What about co-pays, deductibles, or out-of-pocket maximums?
Their attitude and manner.
Is the doctor warm and friendly? Do they really listen to you when you are talking or does it seem like they are not mentally there and just want to move onto the next patient? Do they dismiss your concerns or speak to you in a condescending tone?
Top Questions to Ask a Pediatrician
Keep in mind that you are looking for a doctor who is a good fit for you, your partner (if you have one), and your baby so don’t be scared to take things more seriously and treat this like a job interview. Here is a list of questions to ask when interviewing a pediatrician.
Do you accept insurance?
Of course, if you have insurance this one is a no-brainer. You’ll want to make sure that your potential pediatrician accepts your type of insurance and all of the other details related to their insurance processes.
Are you accredited by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)?
This type of accreditation means that the doctor has passed a special exam in pediatrics. If they are a member of the AAP, the doctor will have a “FAAP” after their name. This means that they have met established standards as a provider for child healthcare.
What is your childcare philosophy?
It’s good to know that you and your doctor are on the same page. Ask them about their thoughts on breastfeeding, circumcision, alternative medicine, vaccinations, sleep, and discipline matters.
Will you discuss my child’s social and emotional development?
If you’re a first-time parent, your pediatrician could be a valuable resource for you to glean more information about parenting, or at least get a second opinion. It’s great to know where and who you can get support from during this time.
How long have you been practicing medicine?
If you haven’t found this information, it would be a good time to ask now. While the more experience the better, don’t write off younger pediatricians with fewer years under their belt. They still have valuable knowledge, and even more updated knowledge in some cases, compared to their older counterparts.
How are emergencies handled?
It’s good to be familiar with how your pediatrician handles emergencies and what their processes entail, so you can be prepared should anything happen.
Do you have children?
It can be comforting to know that your pediatrician has children, or even children of the same gender as you.
Do you make house calls?
This can be good to know, just in case you don’t have reliable transportation to your pediatrician or you would rather have your appointments in the comfort of your own home.
Finding the Best Care for Your Baby: How to Be Confident In Your Decision
Once you have decided on a pediatrician for your baby, you can actually schedule visits ahead of your baby’s birth where you and your potential pediatrician can meet, ask questions, get to know each other, and reassure that you’ve made the right choice. These first meetings are a great way to be open about the things most important to you and to see if your pediatrician reciprocates and supports you.
If for some reason it doesn’t feel like a good fit, then you will have time to look for another pediatrician and it’s best to figure this out early on in the process.
Searching for your very own pediatrician can be a challenging task, but with a little know-how and preparation, you can be confident that you will find the best doctor for your baby. The most important thing is for you to feel comfortable with your pediatrician.