Choosing a pediatrician is one of the most important decisions for your child. Your doctor will track their growth and development, diagnose and treat illnesses and injuries, and refer them to specialists as needed.
Begin your search about three months before the birth of your child to give yourself enough time to get recommendations, visit doctors’ offices, and build a relationship.
Once you start whittling down your list of potential pediatricians, make appointments to meet in person. During the visit, pay attention to things like front office staff friendliness, phone wait times, and cleanliness of the waiting room.
You can also check out their credentials online, such as their board certifications and hospital affiliations. Also, consider whether they have an M.D. or D.O. (doctor of osteopathy)—both have the same amount of medical training, but M.D.s have more of a traditional approach to medicine. You should also find out if they have evening and weekend hours so that you can take your child in when necessary. You don’t want to have to drive far to get care for a sick child.
A lot goes into choosing the right pediatrician. While you might be tempted to look at ratings, qualifications, and credentials online, it is often best to start with personal recommendations. Ask family and friends in your area with kids about doctors they like, says pediatrician Bethany Stafford. Or, turn to local community mom groups for advice.
You can also get a list of in-network pediatricians from your OB-GYN or family doctor and ask hospital affiliates for referrals. You should also set up an interview with several pediatricians and choose one you can communicate openly with. The relationship you build with your pediatrician can last a decade or more, so it’s essential to take your time in making this choice.
The pediatrician you choose will be the primary healthcare provider for your child during both anticipated growth milestones and unexpected medical emergencies. You will rely on this for years to come, so it’s essential to find the right fit.
Start by asking friends and family members in your area if they have children and what pediatricians they love and recommend. You can also Google pediatricians in your area to get their locations, credentials, and patient reviews.
Once you’ve whittled down your list of potential providers, schedule virtual or in-person meetings to meet them. Some doctors charge for these initial meetings, while others offer them free. These meetings allow you to ask questions and see if you and the doctor click on issues like breastfeeding, sleep training, and antibiotic use.
The right pediatrician, such as IPHC, should be flexible enough to meet your family’s needs. For example, choose a doctor whose office is close to home or work. This is important if you have to bring your child in for a quick visit during the day or if they’re sick.
You should also consider how convenient it is to contact the physician if you have questions. This can be significant if you juggle work, children, and other commitments. Ensure the doctor’s phone number is easy to remember and they are available during evenings and weekends if necessary.
Searching for a pediatrician about three months before your due date is best. This will give you time to get recommendations from friends and family, interview doctors, and find one who is a good fit for your family.
Parents can take their approach to choosing a pediatrician to the extremes. Some prefer the first pediatrician they meet at the hospital. In contrast, others conduct extensive research and interviews with doctors about their education, training, and philosophies on topics such as breastfeeding, alternative medicine, and circumcision.
Ultimately, the most crucial consideration when choosing a pediatrician is whether or not you and your baby feel comfortable with them. Make sure you observe how they interact with other children, and pay attention to the demeanor of the office staff, the waiting room environment, and how easy it is to get in touch when you have questions or concerns.
If you feel that a doctor rushes or doesn’t take your concerns seriously, be honest but tactful when giving feedback. Your pediatrician will be vital to your child’s health for years.