In the first year of your child’s life, you’ll make many visits to the pediatrician’s office, mostly for routine checkups and immunizations, but possibly for a sick visit, too. You want to make sure that the practitioner you choose to care for your sweet little one feels like a good fit for you and your family. Ideally, you’ll want to make this decision at least a few months before your baby is due.
First, let’s look at a few factors to consider while you search.
1. Doctor’s Style
Are you the kind of mom who wants to be in and out of your doctor’s visits, a “just the facts” gal, or do you prefer a little more warmth, small talk, and personal feel with your medical practitioners? You’ll want to find a pediatrician who matches your style. There are many doctors who are excellent at what they do, but they are very focused on giving the best care to all of their patients, but they may not prioritize asking you about your personal life. Others, also extremely qualified in their field, put a little more effort into their bedside manner. Neither one is better or worse – just different styles.
Keep in mind that, while you’re not committed to any one doctor for the duration of your little one’s childhood, he’ll see a pediatrician until he reaches age 18, so you’ll be more comfortable with a doctor with whom you feel a positive connection.
How big is the practice? Will your child be able to primarily see the same pediatrician whenever he has an appointment, or will he be shuffled around to whoever is available on that day? The number of patients a practice serves may also impact how easy it is to get appointments on the days and times that work best for you.
In the first 2 months of our son’s life, we had about half a dozen routine pediatrician appointments. We were glad we picked somewhere near our home that was easy to get to, even with traffic. Do you want a doctor that’s close to home? Near where you work or near daycare?
You’ll probably want to look for a practice that offers some kind of service on nights and weekends, whether it’s an on-call nurse hotline or emergency-only appointments. What are the office hours of the practice? If you and your husband both work full time and the office closes at 3pm, that might not work for you.
Double check that the practice is in network for your insurance, or is considered a preferred provider (each insurance company uses slightly different language and categories). Some practices may accept your insurance, but it may be considered “out of network” depending on your insurance provider. This will lead to much higher office visit feeds, which you’ll want to avoid.
How can you find a pediatrician?
1. Ask for recommendations from friends who live nearby.
Word of mouth is an excellent way to get some ideas from friends you trust.
2. Ask your OB or midwife for recommendations.
OBs and midwives often have relationships with pediatricians in the vicinity and may be able to offer you some options.
How do you know if it’s the right fit?
1. Many practices offer opportunities for a meet and greet with the doctors at their facility. If not, you can always call to schedule a brief appointment with one or a couple of the pediatricians to ask a few questions and get a feel for their style. Perhaps check out the bios of the doctors on the practice’s website beforehand.
2. Even if you don’t have a chance to do some in-person interviews before your baby arrives, once you’ve had a few visits with the doctor, if it doesn’t feel like a good fit, you can always switch to a different provider, or even a different practice. Don’t worry, they are professionals. They won’t take it personally.
Best of luck with your search!