When you’re expecting, it can sometimes feel like your to-do list is endless. From where you’ll deliver your baby to where your baby will sleep, the sheer number of decisions you have to make can become overwhelming at times. Although it may seem like one that can wait a bit, choosing a pediatrician for your newborn is one of the most important decisions you’ll make during pregnancy.
A pediatrician is a doctor who specializes in caring for infants and children, but they also treat adolescents and young adults. The doctor you choose for your baby might take care of them throughout their childhood and even into adulthood. Finding the right pediatrician requires some research, but when you find someone you trust, all the effort you put into it will be worthwhile.
If you’re wondering where to begin when looking for a pediatrician, we’re here to help. Hopefully, we can make one of the items on your to-do list a little bit simpler for you.
When to find a pediatrician for your baby
A common question new mothers have is when they should look for a pediatrician. Since you won’t actually need one until your baby is born, it can sometimes be one of the decisions to put off until later. However, during pregnancy is the perfect time to make this decision.
Finding a pediatrician during your pregnancy takes some of the stress off as you don’t have to search while caring for a newborn. It also makes the process after birth much more efficient. You don’t want to wait any longer because the pediatrician will likely want to see your baby soon after the birth. In most cases, your child’s doctor will likely want to schedule a visit within a couple of days after they are born. This doesn’t leave you a lot of time to search for a pediatrician after your baby is delivered.
Another reason why pregnancy is a great time to make this decision is that many pediatricians will allow you to have a consultation with them to make sure it’s the right fit. If you take the time to do your research, you’ll be able to meet with multiple doctors to ensure you find the right one.
Things to consider while you’re searching for a pediatrician
As you start to research pediatricians in your area, there are certain questions you should ask and things you should keep in mind. Here are 5 questions to consider while you’re hunting for a pediatrician.
1. Where is their office located?
Some pediatricians practice at multiple offices, so it’s important to know which location you’ll be visiting with your child. You may want to make sure you’re aware of how close the office is to your home and place of work if you’re not a stay-at-home parent.
2. What is their sick policy?
Every doctor’s office is different when it comes to their policy for sick children. Although most pediatricians will typically say they can get your child in for a visit if they’re sick, as the parent of a small child, I’ve found this isn’t always true in practice.
Does the office you’re looking into have extended hours specifically for sick children?
3. How available are they?
Finding out how you will communicate with your child’s pediatrician is something to consider while you’re looking around. Some pediatricians are more available than others and you may be able to contact them at night or on weekends if you have concerns.
In larger medical offices, you may not be able to contact the pediatrician directly, but they have a patient portal or something similar where you can message the doctor with any concerns.
4. Do they take your insurance?
Although it may have been one of the first questions on your mind, it’s still worth checking directly with the doctor’s office you’re considering. Finding out if they take your insurance plan will save you a lot of hassle and money in the long run. If you don’t have an insurance plan, find out what their financial policy is and if they offer any discounts for patients paying out of pocket.
5. What are their credentials and experience?
Just because a doctor has been practicing for a long time doesn’t mean they’re the right fit for your family. Conversely, just because they’re newer to the field doesn’t mean they’re not an excellent doctor.
However, it’s still worth finding out what type of experience they have, even if it’s just for peace of mind. The only way to make an educated decision about who will be your child’s doctor is to find out as much about them as you can, including their credentials.
Finding the right pediatrician
The process of searching for a pediatrician can seem overwhelming, but finding the right fit for your family is priceless. From the first cold to the first broken bone, the pediatrician will be there to care for your child and guide you in the right direction.
Even if your child doesn’t have any health concerns, they’ll be going to the doctor for wellness visits, which are essential, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The pediatrician you choose should be someone you can trust and feel safe going to when you have questions about your child’s health.
If you get stuck in the process, here are some ways to narrow down your search for the right pediatrician.
1. Ask around
One of the best ways to find a pediatrician you’ll be able to trust is by asking other parents you know. There are plenty of reviews and information available online nowadays, but hearing from someone you know is still more valuable than an online review.
2. Consider office hours
Although it may seem like a simple thing, the office hours of a pediatrician will be extremely important for you down the road. You may want to look for a pediatrician that has late or extended hours if you’re a working parent and will have to plan appointments around your professional schedule. If the office closes before you’re done with work, you may find yourself having to take time off whenever your child needs to go to the doctor.
3. Schedule a visit
One of the perks of choosing a pediatrician during pregnancy is that you’ll have a chance to meet with them face-to-face. Scheduling a meeting will give you the opportunity to ask any questions about their practice, availability, or experience. To make the most of your visit, write down a list of questions beforehand and take notes during the meeting in case you end up talking to multiple doctors over the course of your pregnancy.
The world is full of wonderful pediatricians, and choosing the right one for your child is not always simple. There are many ways to make an informed decision based on your family’s needs, but at the end of the day, it’s okay to trust your instincts as a parent. Only you and your spouse can decide what’s best for your child.