How to Choose a Pediatrician for Your Baby
Finding a doctor for your baby
It won’t be long before you have a new baby in your home. Your OB/GYN has taken care of you and your baby during pregnancy, but once your baby is here, you’ll need a pediatrician.
Pediatricians are medical doctors who specialize in caring for children from birth through the teen years, and choosing a pediatrician before you deliver is the first step in creating a healthy lifestyle for your baby.
“Your baby’s pediatrician is an important partner in your baby’s health,” says Scripps Clinic OB/GYN Anupam Garg, MD. “In addition to monitoring your child’s growth and development, your pediatrician will provide immunizations, treat childhood illnesses, and offer health education and support throughout your little one’s childhood years.”
There are likely dozens of pediatricians in your area, and finding the one who is right for you and your baby can take time. We recommend you start your search in your third trimester of pregnancy, so that you have a doctor selected before your baby is born.
Network and research your options
Consider starting your search by asking for recommendations from family members and friends. Your OB/GYN or primary care physician also may have recommendations. Another option is to check with the physician referral service at your hospital or health care network.
Often, you can find out more about the doctors on their hospital web sites or through online searches. Attending infant care classes during the third trimester can be a good way to meet local pediatricians, since they often teach those classes.
Once you have some recommendations, you may want to make an appointment in person or over the phone to talk with the pediatrician about your concerns.
“Check and see if the pediatrician offers a ‘meet and greet’ appointment during the pregnancy,” Dr. Garg says. “This gives you a chance to visit the office ahead of time and ask any questions.”
10 questions to ask
- Do they accept your health insurance?
- What is their care philosophy? Experience? Do they communicate clearly?
- What are the office hours?
- How much time will they spend with you at a routine appointment?
- What services are offered if your baby is sick after office hours? Do they have someone on call or alternative care?
- Will the doctor or nurse answer medical questions over the phone?
- Is it a group practice? If so, can you request the same doctor each time?
- What is the approximate waiting time for an appointment?
- How long do they recommend that you breastfeed? Do they offer breastfeeding support?
- Do they recommend circumcision for infant boys? Do they perform the circumcision in the hospital or in their office?