Choosing a pediatrician for your baby may feel like a bigger decision-- raises your anxiety--more than finding your own health care provider. Your pediatrician will be one of the first people to see your baby. Your pediatrician will also be the healthcare provider you see the most over the course of your baby's first year (or really, the next 18 years!). Here are things to consider when choosing a pediatrician.
1. Trust Your Gut
Your experience can and will be very different than someone else's. If something doesn't feel right then listen and consider looking elsewhere. If you click with your pediatrician and he/she "gets" you, then continue forward and feel confident in your choice!
2. Proximity To Home
You want someone that is easy enough to get to when you have a sick kid at 5PM on a Friday (because, let's face it, this is inevitably when your child will get sick)!
3. Office Hours
Does the practice have evening and weekend hours for sick visits? And are those visits done at their office or a satellite office? Naturally, you want to avoid going to urgent care or the emergency room with your baby.
4. Calling About A Sick Kid
Speaking of sick visits, do you speak directly with a nurse or do you have to leave a message and wait for the nurse to call you back?
5. Personal Preference
a. Consider your personal preference between a male or female pediatrician. Does the gender depend on if you have a boy or a girl? You might have a male doctor and a female nurse practitioner depending on the office. This can be a nice balance.
b. Does the potential care provider have children? Is this something that is important to you? Before you even make a phone call to an office, check out the practice's website and you can usually find biographies of the team.
c. What is the doctor's experience with your feeding choices (i.e. Breastfeeding, bottle feeding, donor breastmilk, etc.). As moms who have breastfed, we have found it nice to have someone, either a doctor or an NP, who has personal experience with breastfeeding and can give you professional as well as real life advice. You can also have someone like us on speed dial for any breastfeeding concerns, questions, or issues and we will be at your house within 24-48 hours for a lactation visit.
d. What are their views on important parenting points such as, feeding choice, sleep advice, screen time, potty training, school/classroom related issues? You want to find someone that is either open-minded or whose views are in line with the type of parents you plan to be.
6. Admitting Privileges: Lastly, check to see where their admitting privileges are. Boston Children's Hospital, Mass General Hospital, elsewhere? Since we live in an area with the most prestigious hospitals in the world, take advantage of this luxury!
We know some of these points are so far ahead to think about. But it's good to consider all of these things now because your pediatrician is the healthcare provider you will see the most, for the next 18 years! You want to make sure you choose a pediatrician who is someone you connect with, trust, and who understands you and where you are coming from.
What if you want to change pediatricians? If you find you are not loving your pediatrician, it is ok to switch doctors! This may seem more daunting than just sticking it out, but it is worth the search to find the right provider for you, your child, and your family. Your relationship with your pediatrician is important and can impact the choices you make in those first few weeks, months, and years of your child's life. You owe it to yourself and your child(ren) to ensure this is a positive relationship.
Many pediatricians’ offices offer an "open house" once a month where you can go and meet the practitioners in the office. This may be a good place to start.
Do you want to read about other mothers’ experiences of choosing a pediatrician and navigating their first year with a newborn? “Like” the Boston NAPS Facebook page to join our community and meet other mothers in the greater Boston area and beyond.