You’ve chosen your pregnancy care provider, your birth team, lined up support for after birth, and now it’s time to select your baby’s pediatrician. With the same care and diligence that you applied to your own care team selection, you may wish to consider some things when choosing a pediatrician as well. The aspect of pediatrics is such an important part of early parenthood that shouldn’t be overlooked.
When I was pregnant with my son, I scoured the internet for recommendations of nearby pediatricians with excellent reviews. Some pediatrician clinics have expectant parent tours (virtually or in-person) and allow you to get a sense of the practice and meet the providers. I did several tours and found them to be really helpful. Pediatric centers truly help you to understand the importance of your kid’s doctors and the extremely important role they play in your child's early life which ultimately affects who they turn into as they get older.
Some practices that came highly recommended in Facebook mom circles didn’t feel right to me once I actually saw them IRL and asked a few questions. The important thing to remember is to find a pediatrician that listens to you, gives you time to ask questions, and aligns with your own philosophy.
Accepting your insurance plan is key because babies see their pediatrician OFTEN. If you’re paying out of pocket, those visits can really add up. Consider location as well. Finding an office that’s conveniently located makes those frequent visits, especially if it’s a sick visit, all the easier to get to. There’s no need to add unnecessary stress to your new-parent life by trekking farther than needed.
Once you’ve narrowed down your list of possible pediatricians, make a list of questions that you’d like to ask them to find your right practice.
Here are my top 15 Pediatrics questions to ask:
- Do you accept my insurance plan? If not, how is billing handled? Will you submit to my insurance for reimbursement or must I?
- Do you have an expectant parent tour? If not, can we have an introductory meeting/ Zoom prior to a visit?
Is this a solo or group practice? If solo, who provides backup coverage when you are unavailable? If it’s a group practice, how many pediatricians are in the group? Will I be seen by each provider or the same one for each visit?
- What hospital(s) do you have privileges in? Do you have privileges at my birthing location for the newborn visit? (This is not always necessary but some people prefer continuity of care) What hospitals do you recommend for emergency care? Do you have privileges there?
- What hours are you available? Do you have evening and/or weekend hours? What happens if I have an urgent question outside of office hours?
Do you have a nurse line to call in for questions or concerns?
- Do you respond to email questions? Should questions be called into the office? How long does a response typically take?
- Do you offer same-day sick visits? Are the sick and well visits scheduled for particular times of the day? Different waiting rooms for sick and well visits?
- What is your office’s Covid policy? Do you offer Covid vaccinations and/or testing in the office?
- What’s your philosophy on vaccinations?
- Do you allow patients to follow an alternative vaccination schedule if they desire? (Some practices will not see patients who do not adhere to the recommended schedule)
- What is your philosophy on infant feeding? Introducing solids (traditional weaning or baby-led weaning)? Holistic health/ medicine? Circumcision? Sleep training? Covid and masks?
- Do you discuss parenting concerns such as behavior/ developmental milestones or concerns?
- Do you discuss and monitor for postpartum mood and anxiety disorders for the birthing parent? If so, can you make appropriate recommendations for adult providers if needed?
Do you have a lactation consultant on staff or recommendations if we need additional infant feeding support?
Add any questions that are important to you and address any special circumstances that you or your family may have, like accessibility and competence for special needs or health differences. Keep in mind what makes you feel comfortable in terms of policies and philosophies.Think of questions that you could ask that would reduce your anxiety no matter how big or small. You want to feel welcomed and supported by yourdoctor of pediatrics. After all, you’ll be seeing a lot of them in the first year of your baby’s life. Don’t forget about your own health during this process, check out our article on postpartum yoga!