Many new parents are surprised to learn that frequent trips to the doctor’s office don’t end after the baby is born. Most pregnant people can expect to see their OB-GYN at least 10 to 15 times over the course of a complication-free pregnancy. Then, after the baby arrives, they can expect to visit their newborn’s pediatrician at least eight times during the baby’s first year of life.
Your child’s pediatrician plays a vital role in their health and development, so it’s essential to find one that’s a good fit for your family. But with over 67,000 board-certified pediatricians serving babies, children, and families throughout the US, finding the perfect doctor can be overwhelming. Here are five tips to help you during this process.
It’s a good idea for your baby’s doctor to be close to where you live for convenience reasons. Newborns see their pediatricians several times during their first year, and as they grow, they’ll likely continue seeing the same doctor well into their teenage years. It is also important to consider the potential pediatrician’s working hours, especially if you work 9-5 on weekdays.
Things to consider include: do they offer after-hours or weekend appointments? Are there other pediatricians or nurses at the practice if the doctor isn’t available? Do they take walk-in or day-of appointments? If you don’t have a vehicle, is their office accessible by public transportation?
Ideally, your baby’s pediatrician will share – or at least respect – your views on health issues you feel strongly about and support your decision-making. Many parents also find it important that their child’s pediatrician shares their same race or ethnicity, or speaks their native language. This is one of the reasons why communication matters, especially during the initial interview with the potential doctor.
All pediatricians are medical doctors, which means they’ve gone through medical school, completed a residency program, and obtained their state license. You don’t need to focus solely on credentials when selecting a pediatrician for your baby; however, most experts recommend selecting a board-certified physician rather than one who is not.
Board-certified pediatricians undergo additional training and must pass a board certification exam administered by The American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) to ensure that the practitioner is highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area, having demonstrated excellent communication skills, professionalism, medical knowledge, and patient care. You can verify the certifications of your pediatrician online at the ABP website.
Bedside manner is described as the way a doctor talks to and cares for their patients (and parents, in the case of pediatricians). How the physician interacts with your baby should play an important role in your decision to choose a pediatrician. Things to look out for include: Do you and your partner feel comfortable around the doctor? Do they listen to and answer your questions and concerns genuinely and empathically?
A newborn crying throughout the entire appointment doesn’t necessarily warrant switching doctors, but if you feel like the pediatrician doesn’t care or doesn’t make enough of an effort to soothe your baby or make them feel comfortable, this may be an indication that they lack a strong bedside manner.
Lastly, you will certainly want to find a pediatrician who takes your baby’s health insurance. Check with your insurance provider to make sure the doctor or practice you selected is covered by your specific plan. Some insurance companies require parents to choose a pediatrician within their network, while others don’t. In either case, it’s better to know beforehand, so you don’t find yourself having to frantically search for a new doctor after you’ve spent researching to find one you really liked.