So, you’re having a baby. Right now, you’re probably in a flurry of painting a nursery, finding a crib, deciding on the right theme for your baby’s room and choosing a name. But there’s another important decision to be made – who will you be teaming with to care for your baby over the next 18 to 21 years. I’m talking about your baby’s pediatrician.
Pediatricians are doctors who specialize in the care of children from birth until their transition to adulthood. Pediatricians are educated in evaluating and managing children’s social, emotional and physical well-being. But how do you go about finding a pediatrician? There are several things to consider when thinking about finding a doctor who is right for you and your baby.
First of all, talk with your friends and family members who have children. Who do they see? Do they like their doctor? Secondly check with your insurance company to see which pediatricians in your area are covered by your plan. From these two sources, you can come up with a list of pediatricians to consider.
Likely, you’ll still need to narrow it down. Here are a few questions to help you shorten your list:
- Is the pediatrician accepting new patients? Some pediatricians are already too busy, and can’t take any new patients. Others might be close to retirement and don’t want to take any additional babies. A quick call to the office can easily answer this question.
- Is the office convenient for you? Babies see the doctor often in the first year of life, so think carefully about just how far you want to be driving each time you go. Also, make sure hours are convenient for you. Some offices stay open later during the week while others have hours on weekends. Some physicians take a day off during the week. Make sure you know your physician will be available when you think you’ll need her most.
- Is the pediatrician board certified in pediatrics? This means the physician completed specific education requirements and passed a test to prove his knowledge in pediatrics. It’s easily researched by visiting the American Board of Pediatrics website.
- Do you think you will get along with a particular pediatrician? While pediatricians all have similar training backgrounds, our personalities are certainly very different, and our management styles may vary as well. Different people may think a pediatrician is terrible while others think the same doctor is perfectly wonderful. The only way to know is to meet the doctor. Some doctors offer a meeting with expectant parents prior to the baby’s birth, others are open to talking with you on the phone. Yet again, a quick call to a pediatrician’s office will give you the answer you need. If you end up meeting or speaking with a pediatrician, make sure to have a list of questions ready before your discussion. Click here for some ideas on questions.
It’s a good idea to start making a list of potential pediatricians approximately four months into your pregnancy. That way you will have plenty of time for research and to meet with pediatricians before your baby is born. Most parents decide by seven to eight months into the pregnancy. Once you’ve made a decision, call the pediatrician’s office and let them know. Then, just sit back, put your feet up, and wait for that baby!