5 Tips for Choosing a Pediatrician

I think one of the most intimidating decisions I had to make before my babies were born was when I had to decide who would be their pediatrician. There are so many options. There are so many factors. It’s a huge decision and you want to feel comfortable with the decision, because babies get sick. And when you have to take your baby to the doctor, you want to trust the person taking care of your most precious person.

I’ve put together a little list with some information about how we chose our pediatrician, who we love!

1. Ask your friends who already have children what they think of their pediatrician and/or the practice. Make sure you ask people whose opinions you value. You realize a little bit into your pregnancy and more so after having your child that you and your friends may have very different parenting values. So ask the opinions of people whose parenting values align with yours. In our case, we had a family friend who was a pediatric RN for the practice where we planned to send our children. She was able to help us by giving some background information on the doctors and the way they prescribe medicine and this helped us make our final decision.

2. Do your research first. Decide which things are important to you. What would be a deal breaker with a pediatrician? Does it matter to you where the practice is located? Do you want a short drive to the clinic or does that matter at all to you? The practice we chose has a few locations around town, but we wanted the location closest to us for our primary pediatrician. Does it matter to you how much experience the doctor has? Do you want a young doctor or more experienced doctor? Does it matter if your doctor has children?

3. Go meet the doctors. Our pediatrician’s office allows you to come in for a free consultation to meet the doctor and ask questions. We ended up interviewing two doctors because we decided to keep looking after we met the first doctor. His personality didn’t jive with ours, so we decided to meet with one more. How do you feel about the doctor’s office? Is it clean enough for you? What does it seem like the wait time is like? Do you like the staff? These are the people you’ll be calling when your child is sick. How long does it take to get an appointment? And is there an after hours service available? All of these things were important questions for us. Our pediatrician’s office wasn’t in the best shape when we started going there, but there was the promise of building a new office, which has been amazing!

4. Ask questions about vaccinations, parenting philosophies, etc. Ask the questions that are important to you. We ultimately settled on a young, female pediatrician who has small children. I was impressed with her years of experience, but also felt like I’d be able to relate to her and her to me. And I hoped she’d be able to give me advice about sleepless nights and immunizations based on the decisions she made as a parent, not just a doctor. Maybe you want to ask about immunization schedules or breast feeding vs. formula feeding or how and when to start table food and vitamins.

5. Google them. Read about them on the website and see what his or her bio says. You may care about where they went to medical school and college. And it’s important to know that they are board certified. In the end, we wanted to choose a pediatrician that we could trust. It was also very important for me to be able to communicate. I wanted to be able to ask for her advice without feeling like she would talk down to me or judge me.

What would you add to the list? How did you choose your pediatrician?

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  1. Denise says

    Great points! I was speaking to a friend who is expecting her first about this as well. Given where we live, I had a few more points that really make a difference.
    1. Figure out what hospitals the doctor has privileges. Not all doctors can work at any hospital. It didn’t matter to me that the doctor couldn’t see baby in the hospital but in case of emergency I wanted a familiar face to be the attending doctor.

    2. Make sure there is at least one other doctor in the practice you would be willing to see. For a variety of reasons your chosen doctor may not be available for an appointment. With one of my kids, the pediatrician was on maternity leave for the first two weeks of her life!

  2. says

    I think you covered this topic very well! We did all of those things and got very lucky that we loved the first Dr. we met. He’s very popular in the Greenwich, CT area, and my friend told me he was amazing. We met him when I was still pregnant, we loved him, and that was it. For me it was very important to have a Dr. that understood breastfeeding and what was normal/not normal in that area. Our ped was always able to ease my worried about me not making enough or Landon nursing all the time by telling me it was normal and L was thriving and to just keep doing what I was doing. The office also has a lactation consultant there and that was awesome. I’m also a pretty anxious person and I worry about everything and our Dr. is pretty laid back. He is able to calm my fears, but at the same time, if there were any issues, he would absolutely say something to me and tell me how to fix them. He’s experienced and has 5 kids, including twins, and for me, that made a difference. I like that he’s been there several times and gets how different babies are and how hard it is to care of them sometimes.

  3. says

    I love your tips Erin! We really liked our pediatrician before our daughter was born but did not like her rapport with Evie once we starting going to appointments. As our children get older, it helps if both parent and child are able to have a relationship with the pediatrician. You certainly spend a lot of time in the pediatricans office when you have small children.

  4. says

    Great list! Mine also has weekend hours and that was the biggest bonus!!! I can’t tell you how many times we have been there during the weekend.

  5. says

    I realize this is an older post, but I thought I’d throw my two cents in here. For full disclosure, I should admit that I am a doctor, which obviously affects how I make these decisions.

    1. Don’t forget about family doctors! (For even fuller disclosure, i should say that I’m a family doc who loves taking care of kids. And adults. And pregnant ladies.) I think family docs get great pediatric training, especially for normal healthy kids. If you have a child with special needs, a pediatrician may be a better bet. But a family doc can also treat your whole family, and may be more familiar with fracture management, stitches, and other of those types of procedures. I take my son to see a family doc who is also one of my partners and love that he knows about the rest of us, too.

    2. Does the doctor admit to the hospital? Many docs these days have another group that takes care of their hospitalized patients. Personally, I wouldn’t go to a group that didn’t admit to the hospital as I don’t want to have to see a stranger during what is probably one of the most stressful times I could go through.

    3. Is someone on call overnight you can talk to? It is nice to be able to reach an actual physician if you have a sick child overnight so you might be able to spare yourself a trip to the ER.

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