Finding a pediatrician is probably one of the top 3 items on the "Get Ready for Baby To-Do” List when you are expecting. A pediatrician is a medical doctor who manages the physical, behavioral, and mental care for children from birth until age 18 and can diagnose and treat a broad range of childhood illnesses, from minor health problems to serious diseases. These are providers who can set the tone for your parenting based on their values, input, advocacy, and more!
It’s your right, as new parents, to interview as many pediatricians and their practices as you want. So, selecting a pediatrician for your family is something to take the time to invest researching in…you will potentially be with this person for a long time, make sure it is a good fit and don’t settle! A good starting point for recommendations is your friends & family, your ObGyn/Midwife, or a trusted mom’s group (though this can sometimes be a rabbit hole).
Here are some questions to use when interviewing potential pediatricians:
**Make sure they are board certified AND verify that they take your insurance**
Where are they located? Close to home, your work?
How large is the practice? Do you want the pediatrician to be of the same gender as your newborn (this may be important to your child once they becomes an adolescent.)
What are the office hours? Any walk-in, late night or Saturday appointments?
What is the on-call procedure for this practice?
Is this pediatric provider immunization friendly? Are they willing to spread out immunizations for your baby?
What is the waiting room procedure like? Is there a well waiting room and a sick waiting room or just one room for everyone?
Where does the pediatrician have hospital admitting privileges? Is your health insurance accepted there?
Does the provider share similar views on important issues for you (ex. Breastfeeding, circumcision, vaccinations, etc.)
Is this pediatric practice breastfeeding friendly? Do they have a CLC or IBCLC on staff?
Are there any fees for forms or copies from this practice?
Is this pediatric practice diverse? Do they have same-sex, interracial families they support? Is the staff diverse.
As always, you can change your pediatrician at any time. If you aren't happy with their care, feel like they don't take adequate time with your family, feel like you are shamed as a parent, are uncomfortable with them, feel dismissed, etc...it's time to move on. Parenting is challenging, a pediatrician should help foster your growth as a parent as well as take care of your child(ren).
Carrie Stephens CD/PCD(DONA) is a certified Birth, VBaC & Postpartum Doula, and Placenta Encapsulation Specialist that serves the Grand Rapids and West Michigan areas. She also serves as Director of the Maternal Wellness Program, a non-profit group that provides support for perinatal mood disorders and pregnancy/infant loss.