Choosing a pediatrician is one of the most important decisions you’ll make for your child.
But finding a pediatrician doesn’t have to feel overwhelming. Doing initial research, weighing a few important factors, and asking plenty of questions will help you narrow your choices.
Begin the Search for Your Pediatrician
Ask trusted friends and relatives for recommendations when choosing a doctor for your baby or child. Chances are you’ll receive some helpful feedback — both positive and negative — based on their experiences.
Once you’ve asked around and done some initial research, schedule an interview with those pediatricians you think will be a good fit. Many pediatricians offer free in-office or over-the- phone consultations where parents can ask questions and get a feel for the doctor’s personality and approach.
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Factors to Consider When Choosing a Pediatrician
Once you’ve narrowed your list of pediatricians, there are several practical details to consider including:
- Office hours — Make sure the office hours accommodate your family’s lifestyle. For example, will appointment times interfere with you and/or your spouse’s work schedules?
- Office location — In just the first year of your baby’s life, you’ll visit your pediatrician at least five times, not including appointments for unplanned illnesses or special circumstances. Be sure the location is a convenient distance from your home and/or workplace.
- Insurance and billing — Verify that the doctor’s office accepts your insurance or can help you set up a payment plan. Asking questions about billing practices, fees, and other financial matters upfront can save you time and money in the long run.
- Educational background and training — If you’re interested in learning more about a pediatrician’s educational background, visit his or her website, search online databases, or call the doctor’s office.
- Patient access — Look for a pediatrician who can link you with other services as needed. Children’s Community Pediatrics, a large pediatric network with specialized services in office and expanded 24/7 access, is associated with UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.
Questions to Ask When Selecting Your Child’s Doctor
When choosing a pediatrician, ask any questions you have about topics like breastfeeding support or standard medical procedures. Questions might include:
- Is there someone I can call if my child gets sick after hours?
- What schedule do you recommend for vaccinations?
- What is your opinion and level of knowledge regarding breastfeeding?
- What is your opinion on circumcision (if applicable)?
- What’s your stance on infant sleep (nighttime feeding, sleep training methods, etc.)?
- What is the protocol if my child becomes sick and requires hospitalization?
- What should I do if you are unavailable when I call or schedule an appointment?
When to Start Searching for a Pediatrician
It’s helpful to secure a spot with your pediatrician before your child is born. That way, you’ll be ready when adjusting to life with a new baby. Plus, many pediatricians’ offices host tours and classes on breastfeeding and other basics for expectant parents.
Finding a Pediatrician in Your Area
Use UPMC’s online Find a Pediatrician tool to learn more about our pediatricians, including information on their education, medical backgrounds, and parent reviews. The American Academy of Pediatrics also can help you find board-certified doctors based on your zip code.
From nutrition to illnesses, from athletics to school, children will face many challenges growing up. Parents often will make important health care decisions for them. We hope to help guide both of you in that journey. UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh is a national leader in pediatric care, ranking consistently on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals Honor Roll. We provide expert treatment for pediatric diseases, along well-child visits, urgent care, and more. With locations across Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia, you can find world-class care close to home. We also work closely with UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, a national leader in care for newborns and their mothers. Our goal is to provide the best care for your children, from birth to adulthood and beyond. Visit our website to find a doctor near you.