You’re 8 months pregnant, ticking through the enormous to-do list you created, and you’ve come to the next entry – Find a Pediatrician. Easy enough, right?
There are likely dozens, if not hundreds, of qualified pediatricians in your area, but I had to start somewhere with a list of 9 questions and priorities for my family.
The questions to ask when choosing a pediatrician are meant to guide you toward making a decision – only you can choose how important each factor is.
1. Office hours
What are the office hours? This is important – private offices can vary greatly with their opening and closing times. Additionally, some offices close for a lunch break that could coincide with yours.
As an example, you might choose an office that opens at 9 am, which is a little late if you have a sick baby up at 6 am. Weigh all of your options to ensure your pediatrician’s office hours work with your schedule.
How far is the office from your home? My rule of thumb is this – if you can’t see a pediatrician within a 30-minute commute, it’s too far (this is not including specialists).
I had to visit the doctor twice in one day with my daughter last year; a long commute would have made that nearly impossible.
3. Hospital visits
Does the pediatrician make hospital visits? The tide is changing on this one – a lot of pediatricians do not make regular hospital calls anymore.
It can be nice to choose a pediatrician that has an office inside your hospital. This way, they can do rounds and check on your infant right after you give birth.
4. Vaccination schedule
Do you have strong feelings towards vaccinations – either for or against them? Talk to the pediatrician about this before joining, it could save you a lot of headaches down the road.
Many pediatricians will push you to follow standard vaccination schedules, but they may also be completely willing to let you make your own decision at the end of the day.
Others may not even take care of your child if you refuse vaccines. It’s definitely something to ask about!
5. After-hours/on-call procedure
What are the after-hours/on-call procedures? Is a doctor always on-call, do they use a call center, or do they partner with another practice?
Our pediatrician works with a local university to provide after-hours care. It was a really nice facility, and we were grateful to have an option outside of office hours!
6. Weekend hours
Does the office have weekend hours? If you are a full-time working parent, this might prove to be an important factor.
Some offices have “sick” hours on the weekend and some have none at all – mine does not, but it hasn’t been a problem for us.
7. General philosophy
What is the general philosophy of the pediatrician?
Are they pro-breastfeeding? Do they encourage the Cry-It-Out method?
I met with a famous French pediatrician who had really strong opinions about child rearing – it all depends on what you are seeking in a pediatrician.
8. Email and text communication
Does your pediatrician accept emails? This feature is fairly new in most practices, but it’s pretty nice for those spontaneous first-time-mom questions.
Some doctors – mostly doctors in the concierge space – may even allow texting, which can be super convenient for fast communication.
This is another big one: does your pediatrician take your insurance?
When factoring in insurance, keep in mind that you will need to see a pediatrician a TON the first year – it can add up. And if they accept your insurance, any preventative care visits should be covered in full. That can really add it if they aren’t in your network and you have to pay out-of-pocket.
Are there any additional questions that helped you make the decision when searching for a pediatrician?
Rebekah is a writer and mother of three young children. She is also the woman behind Two Mama Bears, a blog for parents with babies and toddlers.