When and How to Choose the Right Pediatrician
Published: Sept. 25, 2019
First-time parents are usually bombarded with advice as soon as that pregnancy announcement is made. When it comes to the best teething toy, bottle or childcare facility, friends and family members – and I do mean this lovingly – always seem to be full of opinions!
But for whatever reason, discussions about finding a pediatrician are often some of the last to come up. Mom obviously has her doctor, but what about baby’s doctor? If you’ve got a to-do list to work through before baby arrives, finding a pediatrician should be near the top.
Sick visits are only half of what we do
It’s important you get along with your pediatrician because you’ll likely be seeing a lot of them – especially during baby’s first year. Sick visits aside, well-baby care begins a few days after bringing your little one home from the hospital.
First newborn visit
I spend that first visit primarily just looking at baby: What does baby look like? Do I see any jaundice? What is baby doing? How alert is baby? I’ll ask you lots of questions, such as:
- How many wet diapers has baby had?
- How is feeding going?
- How is baby sleeping?
I want to make sure that baby is doing all those normal baby things: eating, sleeping, peeing and pooping.
Well-baby care continued
Following that first visit, here’s a list of when I’d like to see baby again:
- 2 weeks old
- 2 months old
- 4 months old
- 6 months
- 1 year old
- 15 months old
- 18 months old
- 2 years old
- 30 months old
- 3 years old
After that 3-year check-up, plan on seeing me every year. Most patients transition to a new primary care provider in their late teens. But until then, I want to keep tabs on your child’s overall health and their physical, cognitive and emotional development.
We want to meet you before we meet baby
I want you to feel confident going into that first visit, knowing exactly what to expect out of your pediatrician. Start your search by:
- Gathering recommendations from friends and family
- Doing your research and looking up reviews
- Watching physician profile videos
Once you narrow down your list of potentials, you may want to schedule in-office visits or phone interviews with the providers you’d like to learn more about. Topics of conversation might include:
- How you envision raising your child
- What you believe a pediatrician’s role is
- Where you stand on vaccines and medication
- What sets my clinic apart from others
While most parents are primarily searching for likability, that one-on-one time is your chance to bring up any questions or concerns. Don’t be afraid to take notes. You should leave that conversation feeling comfortable and reassured.
We’re not your only option, but we’re trained to be a really good option
Some parents prefer to have their child seen by a family medicine provider. One of the perks of that is that there’s generally no provider transition when the child becomes an adult – they can continue seeing the same provider who has firsthand knowledge of the patient’s health history.
While family medicine providers are fully capable of caring for children (and anyone else in your family), some families prefer a provider with more specialized training. Pediatricians complete four years of medical school and three years of specific pediatric training. We complete rotations in newborn nurseries, neonatal intensive care units, pediatric intensive care units, pediatric hospitals, specialty clinics and primary care clinics.
Bottom line: Children have their own specific health needs, and a pediatrician’s training culminates in a strong understanding of that.
Whether your child has no health issues or is medically complex, your pediatrician can serve as a medical home or a bridge of communication between all the different specialties they may require.