Once you've gotten over the hurdle of which doctor, doula, or midwife will deliver your baby on the way, it's time to work on finding a pediatrician for once they're born (we know, the big decisions don't end!). Ideally, you'd start your search 28 to 34 weeks into your pregnancy when you have a more refined idea of what you want in your child's doctor. And it's easier to do so if you're equipped with questions to ask a pediatrician to see if they are the right fit. "It's important to have a pediatrician you've already met and respect because you have enough going on after the baby is born without having to worry about finding a doctor," says Evaline Alessandrini, MD, a pediatrician in Philadelphia.
Other than the basics like whether they accept your insurance and how long of a commute you'll have to the office, there's plenty to consider. Begin by asking family and friends who they've used—typically a list of three to 12 doctors is recommended (after all, you're going to whittle it down). If you don't have enough referrals or are new to the area, scour the pediatrician referral database at the American Academy of Pediatrics or ask your gynecologist or other doctors for recommendations. Approach finding the right pediatrician similarly to how you'd search for an ideal partner while dating—just because they are nice or check some boxes on your wish list doesn't mean that you feel comfortable with them.
And when it comes to making your final decision, make sure you've met face to face since there are certain things you won't get from a phone appointment. (FYI, some offices will charge you for this initial visit so be sure to ask up front if you have any concerns.) Now that we've detailed how to find a roster of eligible doctors for your baby, let us tell you all about the top questions to ask a pediatrician. After all, this may be one of the most important interviews you'll ever have.
Questions to Ask a Pediatrician
1. Are you a parent?
2. What is your background and training?
3. How many years have you been in practice?
4. What are your thoughts on breastfeeding? What about circumcision?
5. Are you a solo practice, or do you have other doctors on staff? If solo, who fills in while you are away?
6. What are your office hours? Do you have hours on evenings or weekends?
7. If there is an emergency, how can I get in touch with the office?
8. Does the office specialize in anything in particular?
9. Will you take minor questions via a phone call or email in between visits? What is the typical response time?
10. Do you visit newborns in the hospital after they're born?
11. What do you think about immunizations?
12. Do you help with sleep training?
13. Do you have separate entrances for well and sick visits?
14. Which hospital are you affiliated with?
15. Which tests do you do in office vs. in a lab? If at a lab, where is the closest location?
16. What is your policy on antibiotics?
17. In your opinion, what are the biggest issues facing children's health today?
Now that you're armed with the go-to questions to ask a pediatrician, go through and see which matter most to you (after all, you'll only have around 15 minutes or so to meet with the doctor). Insider tip: Start with the most important things first.