You spent a good deal of time finding the right prenatal caregiver to guide you through pregnancy. Now that you’re nearing the end, it’s time to put the same amount of careful attention toward choosing a pediatrician for baby. (We suggest settling on baby’s doctor by your seventh or eighth month to avoid waddling in and out of endless doctors’ offices during those last few weeks.) So how to find a pediatrician that’s right for you and your child?
The best way to begin your search: Ask around—your friends, family and doctor (including your ob-gyn, midwife or primary care physician) are great sources for reliable referrals. You can also consult the American Academy of Pediatrics members directory in your area. To truly do due diligence, run candidate names through your state's medical board to check for any previous disciplinary action.
Once you’ve got a few names, it’s time to set up the interviews. And since you’ll probably only have about 10 minutes to size up the candidate, it’s critical to have the right questions all cued up. Get prepared with our checklist of key questions to ask the pediatrician—and yourself, after you’ve concluded the interview. There are no “right” answers here, as every family’s needs, priorities and preferences are bound to differ. Instead, let your (baby-filled) gut be your guide.
Questions to Ask the Doctor
• Do you accept my insurance?
• How long have you been in practice? Where did you attend medical school? Are you a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics?
• Do you have any sub-specialties?
• Is this a solo or group practice? If it’s solo, who covers you when you’re gone? If it’s a group, how often will we see the other doctors in the practice?
• What is your childcare philosophy? What are your views on vaccines, antibiotics, alternative medicine, bottle feeding, circumcision, sleep training, etc.?
• Will you discuss issues such as parenting strategies and my child’s emotional and social development?
• Will your initial meeting with my baby be at the hospital or the first checkup?
• What is your schedule for well baby checkups?
• How far in advance do well appointments need to be scheduled?
• Do you offer same-day sick appointments?
• What are your hours? Are you available to see us in the evenings or on weekends?
• What if my baby gets sick when the office is closed? How are off-hour emergencies handled?
• Do you respond to questions by email? Do you accept calls for routine and non-emergency questions? If I leave a message, how long does it usually take you to return the call?
• Do you have separate sick and well waiting rooms?
• What hospitals do you work with? If my child has to be hospitalized, where would he be admitted?
• What tests are handled in the office, and what is done elsewhere? Where?
• What are your policies for insurance claims, lab policies, payments and billing?
Questions to Ask Yourself
• Did you feel comfortable with the doctor? Did you like his or her communication style and bedside manner?
• Was the interview rushed? Did the doctor take the time to clearly address all of your questions?
• Did your child respond well to the doctor? Did the doctor seem compassionate and patient?
• Was the office clean?
• Was the waiting room kid-friendly, with toys and books?
• How long did you wait before seeing the doctor?
• How easy was it to schedule the interview?
• Was the office staff helpful? Were the nurses friendly?
• Was the office conveniently located? Did it offer adequate parking?
Updated December 2017