You have many decisions to make when you’re expecting a baby. You need to choose a name, decorate the nursery, and decide whether to breastfeed or bottle feed. But one of the most important decisions is choosing your baby’s doctor, or pediatrician.
Choosing a Pediatrician
Your pediatrician will be a source of support and information for many years. Plus, you’ll be seeing your pediatrician often. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends seven well-check visits in your baby’s first year alone.
Many factors go into finding the right doctor for your baby. Here are some things to think about when choosing a pediatrician.
Look for an office that’s convenient to your home or day care. When your baby is sick, you don’t want to be stuck in traffic.
Fees and insurance
Before you fall in love with a particular practice, make sure they take your health insurance. Ask about fees for well-child visits and sick visits.
Are they only open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.? If you work during the day, a practice with evening or weekend hours may be a better fit.
Size of practice
Is there only one doctor? Or is it a group practice? If so, will you see a different pediatrician at every visit?
How important is bedside manner to you? Would you prefer someone warm and fuzzy or with a matter-of-fact personality? Would you relate better to a doctor closer to your age, or one who’s older and more experienced?
Are they board-certified?
To make sure your child gets the most up-to-date care possible, look for a pediatrician who is a board-certified Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (FAAP). That FAAP designation means they passed a rigorous exam to become board-certified. If a pediatrician is board-certified, it means they have gone above and beyond state licensing requirements.
Does their parenting philosophy jibe with yours?
You may have strong opinions about breastfeeding, circumcision, or sleep training. If so, look for a pediatrician who will support you.
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Where Do I Start Looking for a Pediatrician Near Me?
Start by asking family, friends, and co-workers for recommendations. Your own doctor may be able to offer suggestions. You can also use the UPMC Find a Doctor tool to locate pediatricians in your area.
How Far in Advance Should I Find a Pediatrician?
You should find a pediatrician well before your baby is born — ideally in the last trimester of pregnancy. Your hospital will ask for the name of your pediatrician when you’re admitted to deliver. It’s better to decide early rather than pick someone in a rush at the last minute.
When Should I Schedule the First Pediatrician Appointment?
The AAP recommends that you schedule your first pediatrician appointment before the baby is born. If possible, meet the doctor for an in-person visit during your last trimester. If that’s not possible, you may be able to schedule a phone or online appointment.
A pediatrician will see your baby soon after birth when you’re still in the hospital.
Once you’re home, your pediatrician will want to see the baby within a week. They will examine and weigh your baby to make sure they are getting enough to eat. After that, checkups happen regularly throughout the first year.
What Questions Should I Ask the Pediatrician?
Before you meet with the pediatrician, write down a list of questions. Here are some basics.
- Are you board-certified?
- Do you have a separate waiting area for well babies and those who are sick?
- What is your philosophy about circumcision, breastfeeding, and sleep training?
- Are you open to alternative medicine?
- How many doctors are in the practice?
- Do you have evening or weekend hours?
- What insurance do you take?
- Can I get a same-day sick appointment for my child?
- What hospitals are you affiliated with?
- Do you do telehealth visits?
Doing your homework before your baby is born will pay off in the long run. But go with your gut when choosing a pediatrician. After all, it’s a relationship that could last until the time your baby goes to college.
kidshealth.org, Choosing a Pediatrician for Your New Baby, Link
healthychildren.org, How to Choose a Pediatrician, Link
healthychildren.org, Find a Pediatrician or a Pediatric Specialist, Link
New York Times, How to Choose the Right Pediatrician, Link
American Academy of Pediatrics, Recommendations for Preventive Pediatric Health Care, Link
Connect with UPMC
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.