You and your baby will probably visit this doctor more often during the first year than at any other time. For pregnant women, it’s important to select a pediatrician before the delivery so your newborn can receive care from a person you trust after delivery. The pediatrician will begin caring for your baby in the hospital, just like your obstetrician cares for you during the birth experience, with the first priority being to evaluate your baby’s initial health and early progress.
There are many ways to begin your search for the right pediatrician. You can start the search by getting a list of preferred providers from your insurance company. Friends, relatives, neighbors and your obstetrician or midwife are also good initial referral sources.
Interviewing Potential Pediatricians
Even if there’s only one name on your list of potential pediatricians, it’s a good idea to meet in person and learn about their practice and philosophy. The following questions and considerations should help you in your decision making:
- How long has the doctor been practicing in the community?
- What hospital(s) is he/she affiliated with?
- What is his/her schedule for well-baby checkups?
- What are the practice office and on-call hours?
- What hospital does he/she admit to in emergencies?
- How does the office handle after-hours emergencies?
- Who fills in when the doctor is away?
- Will a nurse take and address calls and concerns when the doctor is unavailable?
- Is there a separate waiting area for sick and healthy children?
- What are the doctor’s views on issues such as breastfeeding, bottle feeding, circumcision, immunizations and the use of antibiotics?
- Does the practice accept my insurance plan or make other payment arrangements?
Managing Your Child’s Wellness
As time goes on, you’ll look to your chosen pediatrician to manage your baby’s wellness exams and sick visits, administer vaccines, prescribe medications, detect problems such as developmental disorders and behavioral difficulties, and provide ongoing guidance regarding feeding and care. With all that’s at stake, it’s extremely important to find the right person with whom you feel comfortable forming a lasting doctor-patient relationship. A doctor that focuses on infant health and caring for kids each day has a leg up when it comes to expertise on children’s medical issues.