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How to Choose a Pediatrician: Finding the Right Doctor for Your Child

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.

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.

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.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with a pediatrician at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, please visit the Find a Pediatrician website.