New parents often have “find a pediatrician” at the top of their list when they’re expecting. It’s one of those critical yet time-consuming tasks that can suck up a whole lot of energy at a time when you have very little to spare. But picking the right pediatrician is important. It ensures that you get the best possible care for your little one and that you have proper guidance along the way. And if you’re brand-new to the parenting world, well…guidance is like gold!
According to Parents magazine, the best time to start looking for a pediatrician is when you or your partner is between 28 and 34 weeks pregnant. This allows a bit of buffer time so that you have plenty of opportunity to do your homework. Once you’ve narrowed down your list of prospects—you can start with the HealthSplash platform—be sure to ask the following questions so that you find the best match. These questions can also be used by those who are already parents but are looking for a new doctor for whatever reason.
- Are You Board-Certified?—As with many medical specialties, pediatrics doesn’t require board-certification, but finding a doctor who has this extra credential can be worth your time. Pediatricians who are certified by a board not only have to complete med school and a residency, but also have to pass several extra exams and maintain up-to-date certifications.
- Are You a Member of the AAP?—Pediatricians who belong to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) are considered FAAP-designated. FAAP stands for Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and signifies that a doctor is in good standing and board-certified. You can verify that your doctor is, indeed, certified and in good standing on the AAP’s website.
- Are You a Parent?—Let’s be clear: You go to a doctor because you want advice and treatment based on well-vetted research, not anecdotal data. Some of the best pediatricians aren’t parents. However, choosing a doc that’s been in your shoes may be beneficial down the line, and may ensure that he or she is empathetic to many different parenting scenarios. It may also help you build trust if your doctor has kids of the same age or gender.
- How Do You Feel About Breastfeeding?—The first few months or years of parenthood are often dominated by questions about feeding, and a good support system is critical when you’re nursing, pumping or formula-feeding. Ensuring that your feeding goals align with your doctor’s recommendations will help ensure that you’re confident in whatever choice you make. Note that the AAP supports breastfeeding and the use of human milk in feeding for the first year.
- How Far Out Do I Have to Book?—The best doctors are in the highest demand, and this can be a major bummer if you’re dealing with a sick infant for the first time! Try to find a pediatrician who prioritizes accepting same-day and last-minute appointments. On the same note, make sure that his or her practice is up-to-date and allows you to book appointments online.
- Do You Answer Questions by Chat or E-Mail?—In today’s on-demand society, it’s almost impossible not to turn to the internet for quick parenting answers, but the web isn’t always the most reliable source. Having access to your doctor through user-friendly, digital health tools will help make sure that you get good last-minute advice, even on the weekends or after hours.
- What’s Your Basic Parenting Philosophy?—Once you’ve gotten past the logistics, it’s time to dig into philosophy. Inquire about your doctor’s opinion on vaccines, sleep training, circumcision, co-sleeping, gender identity and other issues that aren’t always cut-and-dry. At the end of the day, you want a doctor whose principles align with your own so that your relationship is built on respect and trust.
Remember, the pediatrician you love might not be a good match insurance-wise. With HealthSplash, you can easily search doctors in your area that are in your insurance network. With our easy-to-use health tools and these helpful questions, you’ll be well on your way to finding the perfect pediatrician to help make the transition to parenthood as painless as possible!