My son just had his two-year well-baby check-up. He was Mr. Social Butterfly as he chatted up the nurses, and at the end of his appointment he demanded a sucker from the receptionist. He’s clearly got the system figured out; it’s just weird for me, as his mom, to think that a whole two years have passed since I took him to his very first check-up at just four days old.
Preparing for a new baby can be stressful, and for many new parents, choosing a pediatrician is one of the toughest parts of getting ready for baby. So how can you be sure that you’re making the right choice for your child? Read on to find out.
Ask for recommendations. This should be your first step in the hunt for a pediatrician. I asked my own doctor for recommendations, and she gave me a long list of pediatricians that she knew personally. Make use of your friends, family and contacts in the medical field; the best way to find a reliable doctor is to seek one that has been tried and tested by people you trust.
Meet them in person. A doctor might look good on paper, but that means nothing if they have the social skills of a grizzly bear. Many practices even hold “meet and greet” sessions to give you an opportunity to ask questions. You’ll know instinctively whether the doctor is someone you can feel comfortable with.
Find out if they are board certified. Board certification is not required to practice medicine, but most people prefer doctors who are certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties. Certification guarantees that the doctor meets “nationally recognized standards for education, knowledge, experience and skills,” according to www.CertificationMatters.org. To get board certified, doctors must go through a rigorous testing and a peer evaluation process that is administered by other specialists in their area of medicine. In other words, board certification is a good indication that the potential doctor knows what they’re doing.
Look online for reviews. You can find online reviews for just about anything – including doctors. Websites like HealthGrades and RateMDs can be helpful resources if you’re looking for real opinions about a particular doctor.
Question the logistics. The policies of the practice can have as much of an impact on your experience as the doctor himself. Here are some questions to ask.
- Is it easy to get a same-day sick appointment? Make sure the office allots sufficient time in the schedule for sick appointments.
- Do they have after-hours care? For those times when you can’t make it to the office before five, or on a weekday, after-hours care is important.
- Is the office easy to get to? Sick children and two-hour car rides don’t mix. Make sure the office is close enough to home and school that getting there won’t be a problem.
- Is there a separate sick and well waiting area? You don’t want your new baby to be subjected to illness every time they go in for a check-up.
- Will you have 24-hour access to a doctor or nurse? When a problem arises at 2 a.m., round-the-clock access can ease your mind and help you care for your child until morning.
You can have the best pediatrician in the world, but if getting timely care for your child is harder than getting into med school, the pediatrician won’t be helpful at all.
Make sure they support your parenting philosophy. There are a lot of highly controversial topics when it comes to caring for infants. For instance, co-sleeping is a hot topic because some doctors feel that it poses a danger to infants, while others feel that it facilitates breastfeeding and bonding. Immunizations are another big one: Some parents aren’t comfortable having their children receive certain vaccinations. Make sure the pediatrician is willing to support the decisions that you make as a parent; they should work with you, not against you.
Finding the right pediatrician can be a bit overwhelming. By requesting recommendations from people you trust and asking the right questions, you’ll be sure to find the right pediatrician for you and your baby.