Signs You Should Break Up With Baby's Pediatrician

So baby’s doc is unfriendly? Preachy? Vague? How to decipher the annoying from the just plain bad.
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Updated January 30, 2017
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You’re seeing baby’s pediatrician so often, she notices when you get a new haircut. And she’s obviously someone you’re supposed to trust with the health and well-being of your child. But if baby’s doctor aggravates you from time to time, don’t freak out — it’s totally normal. “Not everyone loves their child’s doctor,” says Cheryl Wu, pediatrician at LaGuardia Place Pediatrics in New York City. “But many differences are just personality conflicts, and most can be worked out.” So it’s important to be able to distinguish a little annoyance or an ignorable disagreement from a deal breaker. These are the top signs you might want to start looking for a new pediatrician:

She Doesn’t Make an Effort

Here’s a for instance: Every time you enter the doctor’s office, your child screams his head off. That in itself isn’t reason to leave, but if the doc never tries to do anything about it, it might be time for a change. You don’t have to leave the practice entirely, but you might want to switch to a different doctor within the practice. A doctor doesn’t necessarily need to have an amazing personality (you’re not there for pleasant conversation), but she should at least make an effort to make patients comfortable. Period.

She Doesn’t Ease Your Fears

Parenting is downright frightening — especially when you think your kid is sick. And you’re not the first scared parent in the history of the universe; baby’s doctor has seen quite a few nervous new moms pointing out bumps and bruises that are probably totally harmless. But here’s the thing: Even if you’re acting crazy, you should expect your doctor to give you the information and resources to ease your fears — and to check out anything you’re obviously concerned about. “It’s part of a pediatrician’s job to reassure parents and make them feel less worried,” says Wu. “Even if I think it’s not a big deal, if a parent pushes, then I devote time to the issue. Most doctors can detect levels of anxiety and know to respond to them.”

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You Can’t Understand Why She’s Doing Things

If the doctor orders a test or a medication for baby, it’s important to know why, but if you’ve asked and the doc just can’t make you understand her reasoning, you’ve got a big problem. “The doctor should be able to explain why she’s doing certain things,” says Wu.

You Two Can’t Find Middle Ground

“Some pediatricians are relatively rigid,” says Wu. In fact, yours may lecture you about getting baby to bed early, or pooh-pooh you for supplementing with formula. And that could totally irk you, but try not to let it. Instead, explain why you’ve made certain choices. The doctor should listen to you and explain her stance to you — when she does, try to be open-minded. “There is almost always a middle ground,” says Wu. “Doctors are supposed to respect certain choices, like ones that are part of specific cultural beliefs, but they’re also supposed to recommend what’s healthiest or safest for the child. It’s important you try to see things from the doctor’s point of view too.” Chances are, she only has baby’s best interests in mind.

She’s Not Doing Her Job

It’s rare to find a doctor who doesn’t follow the rules, who’ll put a child in harm’s way or who’ll ignore a potentially dangerous health problem. But we can’t say it will never happen. “It’s part of a doctor’s oath to do no harm,” says Wu. “If she’s ordering [invasive] tests that might not be necessary, or if you’re taking your child in repeatedly for a problem that’s interfering with his ability to do the things he’s supposed to do, it’s not resolving, and she’s not ordering treatment or following up,” then it’s time to find a new doc.

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