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Choosing a Pediatrician: Helpful Tips and Questions to Ask

Updated: May 28

Selecting the right pediatrician is one of the most important decisions you’ll make as a parent. This medical professional will be a crucial part of your child’s health and development from infancy through adolescence. To help you navigate this vital choice, here are some practical tips that I used when finding a pediatrician and some essential questions to ask during your search.

All links in the blog post are affiliate links, which means I make a percentage off your purchase at no additional cost to you.

Tips for Finding the Right Pediatrician

Start Early

Begin your search for a pediatrician well before your baby is due. A good timeframe is during the second trimester of pregnancy. This allows you ample time to research, consult, and decide without feeling rushed! Typically you will take your newborn to quite a few newborn appointments, so you'll want your pediatrician secured before delivery!

Seek Recommendations

Ask family, friends, and your obstetrician for recommendations. Personal experiences can provide invaluable insights into a pediatrician's approach, demeanor, and operations. Also, consider consulting local parenting groups and online forums for additional feedback. It's important to ask those around you who have similar parenting styles and live a similar lifestyle as you so that you can get honest and appropriate feedback that fits for you.

Consider Logistics

Think about the pediatrician’s office location in relation to your home or work. Convenience is important, especially for routine check-ups or urgent visits. Also, check office hours – some pediatric practices offer weekend or evening hours which can be beneficial!

Check Credentials and Experience

Ensure the pediatrician is board-certified through the American Board of Pediatrics. This certification indicates that the doctor has passed rigorous exams and maintains ongoing education in pediatrics. Experience, especially in dealing with specific conditions if your child has special health needs, is also a critical factor.

Evaluate the Practice

Consider the overall environment and operations of the practice. Is the staff friendly? Is the waiting area child-friendly and clean? How long are the waiting times? Additionally, assess how emergencies are handled and whether the office provides support through phone or email - something you will definitely want to be clear about BEFORE you're wanting to communicate about your child's health.

Questions to Ask a Potential Pediatrician

Once you’ve narrowed down your list of potential pediatricians, schedule a prenatal visit to discuss your expectations and learn more about their practice. Here are some essential questions to ask:

1. What is your approach to antibiotics and vaccinations?

Understand their stance on issues that will affect your child’s care directly. It’s important that their views align reasonably well with your own beliefs and preferences. Some doctors and practices require that your child completely follows the typical vaccine schedule, while others allow for an adjusted schedule or opting out of vaccinations. Knowing about their stance on antibiotics BEFORE your child is sick, is also incredibly helpful.

2. How do you handle after-hours questions or emergencies?

Babies don’t only need care during business hours. Ask about procedures for urgent concerns outside of regular office hours. Is there a phone number you can call and reach a doctor 24/7? How quickly does the doctor respond to voicemails or messages sent in a portal? You will DEFINITELY want this information before the 4 am panic when your little one is really sick.

3. Can you tell me about your hospital affiliations?

This is important if your child ever needs hospitalization. Knowing where your pediatrician has admitting privileges can help you decide about emergency care.

4. What is your philosophy on parenting and discipline?

You will want advice from someone whose values align with yours. Whether it’s about sleep training, feeding, or managing tantrums, make sure their guidance fits your parenting style!

5. How does the office manage appointments and follow-ups?

Is it easy to schedule an appointment, and how far in advance do you need to call? Is there a way to book appointments through an online portal? Understanding these logistics can make healthcare management smoother.

6. Who covers for you when you are unavailable?

It is really important for you to know who will take care of your child if their primary pediatrician is on vacation or unavailable due to other reasons.

7. What is your response time for calls or emails?

As mentioned above, knowing how quickly you can expect a response can ease a lot of anxiety when you’re concerned about your child’s health.

8. Do you offer telehealth services?

With the rise of digital health services, check if they provide consultations via video or phone, which can be convenient for minor issues or quick questions.

Choosing the right pediatrician involves thorough research and careful consideration. It’s about finding a reliable, knowledgeable healthcare provider who you trust to care for your child’s health. By starting early, asking the right questions, and assessing your comfort with their practice, you can build a lasting partnership that will contribute to your child’s well-being for years to come! Remember, this is a relationship that will support not just the physical but also the emotional and developmental aspects of your child’s journey to adulthood. Good luck!



L E T ' S B E F R I E N D S!


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