Choosing a Doctor for Your Baby

pediatrician checking out newbornBabies and children are not small adults. They have specific health care concerns. Selecting a doctor who will care for your new baby is an important decision. What should you look for in a pediatrician? The following information will help you in the process of finding the right doctor for your baby.

Selecting Candidates

• Check your medical insurance provider's list of doctors that are included in your benefit plan.
• Seek recommendations from your doctor or midwife for a pediatrician or family doctor for your baby. They are already familiar with you and your preferences.
• Ask relatives, friends, and neighbors about their babies' doctors. Determine your "care philosophy" and special requirements that may affect your choice of a doctor for your baby.
• Schedule interviews before your baby is due with any doctors you are interested in meeting. Most doctors do not charge for these visits. In addition to getting specific answers to questions about your baby's care and the office procedures, a personal interview will help you examine the doctors communication skills and your comfort with him/her.

Questions for the Doctor's Office Staff

• Is the doctor in my insurance network?
• How does your office handle billing/insurance claims and payment?
• What is my co-payment amount?
• What is the doctor's educational background, training, and experience?
• At which hospitals does the doctor have privileges to practice?
• Are there other doctors in the practice? How is coverage managed?
• Where is your office located?
• What are your office hours, including weekend and extended hours for working parents?
• Does this practice have specialized pediatric nurse practitioners or physician assistants? If so, what is their role in the care of my child?
bull; Who will answer my questions when I call? When will phone calls be returned? Is there a charge for call?
• Does your office provide educational materials, such as newsletters, pamphlets, and videotapes?
• What is the average cost for well baby visits, immunizations, and sick child visits?
• How far in advance should I schedule well baby visits?
• How long will I have to wait to see the doctors?
• Does the waiting room have separate areas for well and sick children?

Questions for the Doctor

• How long have you been in practice?
• What can you tell me about the other doctors and nurses in your practice?
• If you are not available, who will cover for you and what is their training and philosophy?
• Specifically what do you want new parents to contact you about?
• How often are well baby visits done and what happens during each visit? Do they include discussion on development issues, discipline, and parental guidance?
• What is involved in the routine medical care of my baby during the first two years of life?
• What types of tests are done in this office?
• What situations indicate that I go directly to an emergency room? Would I call you first?
• Will you attend my baby's delivery, and see him/her in the hospital after delivery?
• Will my feelings and opinions be considered in discussions and decisions?

What is your philosophy on the following:

  • Breast feeding versus bottle feeding
  • Continuing breast feeding if I should develop an infection or should my baby experience a slow weight gain
  • Feeding on demand or on a schedule
  • Returning to work
  • Circumcision
  • Starting my baby on solid foods
  • "Spoiling" a newborn
  • Allowing my baby to sleep in my bed
  • Parenting by both mom and dad
  • Infants and children in day care
  • Contraception while nursing

Republished from Her Healthcare. Image: Anita Peppers.