If you’re a first time parent, choosing the best pediatrician for your baby can be a daunting endeavor. As an expecting parent, you should begin the search for your child’s doctor at around the seven month mark of pregnancy. Doing so will give you a couple of months to find the doctor you want to care for your newborn in the hospital following your baby’s birth, and beyond. Here are 7 tips (from a mom who has been there and done all of them!) to put you on the path to selecting the best care provider for your new little baby girl or boy!
1. Make a list, check it twice
Buy a notebook, and on the first page, write down the areas of new parenthood which are of the greatest concern and interest to you. Co-sleeping, Breastfeeding, Alternative Immunization Schedule, Diet (vegan/vegetarian), Homeopathic remedies, Babywearing, etc. You will want to find a pediatrician who is on the same page as you with regard to your parenting style. For instance, many pediatricians are proponents of attachment parenting and are helpful in encouraging you to stand by your choices while on the road less traveled. Since sleeping and eating will (hopefully) be your baby’s two biggest areas of concern, find a doc who supports your plans to co-sleep, feed a vegan diet, etc.
2. Be a detective & take notes
Most pediatricians are willing to meet with parents for an informal interview/Q&A session. Take your notebook to every meeting you schedule and write notes including your likes/dislikes of each pediatrician with whom you meet. Also, arrive early for your consultation and get the general vibe for how the office runs. Is the staff accommodating and helpful? Does the doctor seem to authentically like his/her job and working with children? Does the office have separate entrances for sick and well child visits? Be sure to ask what the doctor’s on-call policy is, and make sure a doctor (whether it be your pediatrician or someone in their practice) is available to be paged 24 hours a day in the event you need them.
3. Location, Location, Location
The adage doesn’t just apply to real estate — you want to be located as close in proximity to your pediatrician’s office as possible. If traffic congestion is an issue in your city, this can add considerable time to your journey — and if your child is sick, you don’t want to drag them on a road trip in addition to having to take them to the doctor. Also, during your newborn’s first year of life, you will be making frequent visits for weight checks, immunizations, etc., so you’ll want the commute to be convenient.
4. Make sure the pediatrician is covered by your insurance
Call your insurance plan to ensure that the pediatrician you’re interested in is indeed a provider on your plan. Get the lowdown on how many visits are covered, and find out whether you have to pay a co-pay for nurse visits in which you’re only visiting for immunizations. *Note: We opted for an alternative vaccination schedule in which we had to make more frequent visits to divide the number of shots administered per visit. Turns out, we didn’t need to pay a co-pay for visits exclusively to administer vaccinations.
5. Heed word of mouth and the internet
Google the name of the pediatrician you’re interested in, and you’re sure to uncover more information about them via experiences had by other parents. Additionally, local community online parenting sites and parenting networks often give referrals or steer clear warnings of doctors based on their personal experiences. If you have friends with children, ask them who their pediatricians are, and if they are happy with the practice. The saying “it takes a village” exists for a reason… reach out to other parents on your search.
6. Take the pediatrician’s gender into account
If you plan on building a long-lasting relationship with your pediatrician, their gender may be a factor to consider. Most children see their pediatrician until they turn 18, so if you think that down the road your boy or girl may be more comfortable seeing a doctor of their same sex during adolescence, choose accordingly.
7. Go with your gut
Listen to your intuition. If you walk into a pediatrician’s office and feel at ease in the surroundings, with the doctor’s bedside manner and the rapport between you, that’s great — but if you feel uncomfortable, like you’re being rushed, or that the environment is unsavory in any way, move on and keep searching. You will be discussing a wide range of emotional issues with your baby’s doctor, from poop to boobs to crying (you and the baby!), and you’ll need to feel like you can call them at 2am if the situation warrants it. So choose wisely!
Good luck on your mission to find the best pediatrician for your baby. We personally interviewed many doctors — and it was a long, frustrating road, given our personal parenting style and child-rearing preferences, but in the end we found a pediatrician that we absolutely adore!
Please comment on this post with any questions or suggestions you may have with regard to this process.