So, your baby is due in a few weeks and you’re starting to get worried. What if your baby gets sick? Who do you turn to for help and advice? Choosing the right pediatrician can indeed be a challenging task, especially if you’re new to the parenting business. But there’s no need to panic. Every parent has to go through this at some point. Here are a few expert tips that will help you to choose the perfect doctor you and your baby will benefit from having around for years to come.
Start your search early
To save yourself a whole lot of post-partum headache, you should start searching for a pediatrician before your baby is born—preferably in your last trimester. This means your baby doctor will be on ground to attend to your infant from the get-go.
But how do you find a good doctor? Your best bet would probably be a positive referral or recommendation from experienced friends and family. If that option isn’t available to you, ask your ob-gyn or GP for some suggestions. If you’re still not satisfied with the names you come up with, you can also perform a general search on the American Academy of Pediatrics referral website.
But whatever you do, don’t choose a pediatrician that’s too far away from your neighborhood—no matter how reputable such a practitioner may be. If you can’t schedule an urgent appointment and be with your pediatrician within 45 mins, you’re probably better off looking elsewhere.
Check the Credentials
Although credentials may not tell you the full story about a medical practitioner, it does go a long way to instill some level confidence. The common credentials to look out for include:
- Board certified: This means the pediatrician has routinely taken and passed some rigorous professional exams, implying that he/she is up-to-date in the practice.
- AAP membership: Being a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) means the doctor abides by the organization’s standards and guidelines in the discharge of their duties.
That being said, it’s not always about certificates and papers. If you love the doctor’s personality and work ethic, and they have great positive reviews from people you trust, then you should be fine working with such a pediatrician, even if they do not boast as many credentials as some others do.
Schedule an appointment and ask the right questions
Nothing beats a face-to-face meeting when trying to find a good doctor for your baby. So, once you’ve compiled a few names that seem like a good fit, schedule an appointment with each one and head for the clinic.
While at the clinic, there are a few things to look out for. Do they have a conducive waiting room? How long does it take before the doctor attends to you? What are the reactions of other children/parents to the doctor? Do other parents have good things to say about the him/her? Does he/she attend to patients patiently?
The answers to these questions can arm you with some very important information that will help make a good decision. When you do finally meet the pediatrician, here are a few questions you might want to ask:
- What is your pediatric background? How long have you been doing this?
- Do you have kids yourself?
- Is there a way to reach you during an emergency or after hours?
- Can I make an appointment on short notice? Will it incur additional cost?
- When is the best time to call you if I have a question?
- What is the office policy for managing insurance forms?
- How does cost sharing work?
- How much do you charge for routine examinations or sick visits?
- Do you make house calls?
Depending on your preferences, the answers to these questions should help you make an informed decision.
Be sure you’re totally comfortable with the practitioner
If you want to pick the right pediatrician for you and your baby, you need to follow your gut! A pediatrician may have all necessary credentials and tick all of the official boxes, but if you’re not getting a good vibe off of him/her, you should probably look elsewhere.
Your pediatrician must be someone you can freely talk to about your child’s developmental changes, even up to puberty. So, he/she must be able to listen, explain things patiently in a manner you’ll understand and truly care about your child’s well being.
Your philosophies should align too. For instance, if you’re the type who believes in exclusive breastfeeding (AAP recommends breastfeeding up to one year, by the way), your pediatrician should support your philosophy, or at least respect it.
So, in the end, it all comes down to choosing someone you can comfortably relate with in the long term. Doing so will pay dividends for you and your kids for years to come. You’ve got this!