In the “village” that it takes to raise your baby, you can consider your child’s pediatrician a partner. She’ll be someone you can turn to for guidance to ensure your baby is growing up healthy and strong. But how do you pick the perfect physician for your first child? As an expectant Circle of Moms member named Elliott points out, when you're a first time parent, it's not easy to know what to look for in a pediatrician: “...we're trying to compile a list of questions to ask so we don't get blindsided by something radically out of skew with our parenting style or needs six months on and have to change horses midstream."
If you, too, are evaluating your child’s health care provider options, consider the following five suggestions, offered by Circle of Moms members.
1. Do You Really Need a Pediatrician?
The first thing to determine when choosing a pediatrician for your child, is whether you really need one. Some moms members say a family practitioner is equally qualified, and someone you might feel more confortable with.
Laura notes that she spent some time searching for the perfect pediatrician for her son, until one day she realized that she wanted to use her own doctor because he already felt like "part of the family."
If you feel a similar kinship with your existing doctor, then Amy A. suggests you “look, first, at the doctor you already go to, and see if he would be willing/able to treat your whole family." All four members of her family see a family practitioner. This makes it easier for her to schedule appointments for all family members. She also likes the fact that the doctor has a “longitudinal view” of the entire family’s health.
2. Does She Accept Your Insurance?
Whichever doctor you choose as your child's primary physician, your wallet will take quite a hit if you have to pay out-of-pocket for every expense. So one of the most important things to determine as you narrow your list of candidates is whether the doctor is covered by your insurance plan, says a member named Dana.
“But one other thing to check on is whether or not the doctor will bill you for an email consultation,” Alyssa adds. “If that's the case you'd have to go further and talk to your insurance company about whether or not they'll cover that. You don't want a sudden unexpected bill showing up!”
3. Do Her Office Hours Suit Your Schedule?
Sara recommends moms look at their calendars and at the clock when interviewing potential pediatricians. Consider how long you have to wait before you see the doctor, she suggests.
Other moms suggest making a note of how difficult it is to get an appointment with the doctor. As Dana explains, one of the things that really bothered me with my son's pediatrician was that I could never see him unless the appointment was made months in advance (for well baby checkups)." When her son is unexpectedly sick, she generally winds up seeing the nurse practitioner rather than the pediatrician.
In case of after-hour emergencies, consider the pediatrician-prescribed protocol. “Is there a nurse line available 24 hours per day?” Amanda asks. If your child needs to head to a hospital emergency room, will your child’s doctor come in? You can even test the potential response, by calling a pediatrician you are interviewing with a question like, “My kid has a 103.5 fever; what should I do?” to see how you are treated by the doctor’s staff. “After all, you don't want to feel like you can't call there in your time of need,” Amanda says.
Robin agrees that “what if” scenarios can be helpful when interviewing potential pediatricians. When she asked what a doctor’s advice would be if she called about her sick son 15 minutes before the office closes, Robin says she knew to find someone else when the doctor told her to head to the ER.
4. Does She Collaborate with Other Doctors?
A member named Shana points out that you'll sometimes find doctors working together in a group practice to cover one another. In these cases, your should also consider whether you are comfortable seeing the other doctors in the practice when your primary doctor isn't available, Rebekah says.
Deidra B. believes small offices are more attentive, but with a bigger office, there’s a good chance that a doctor (even if it’s not your chosen pediatrician) will be able to see your child sooner.
5. Do You Share the Same Values?
Your child’s pediatrician should support your parenting style. Consider how you feel about hot-button issues like attachment parenting, breastfeeding and vaccinations. For example, “What’s his stance on antibiotic therapy, vaccines and diet?” Melissa asks. “Does it follow what the literature recommends, and what you feel is right?”
If you plan to breastfeed, you should find a pediatrician who will support you, or even has a lactation consultant on staff, Sara notes.
And if the pediatrician you are considering is also a parent, “sniff out how close her parenting style aligned with your planned style,” Glynis suggests. “Not only will you have it easier if the doc parented like you will, but his answers and his willingness to answer openly and without a "tude" will tell you a lot about what would happen in the future if your path differs,” she explains.
Ultimately, when it comes to who should be the primary health advisor for our child, says Dana, “being comfortable with your doctor and feeling like they don't discount mother’s intuition is very important.”
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.