How to Pick a Pediatrician: The Ultimate Guide for First-Time Parents

About 20% of emergency department visits are pediatric. Children are prone to several illnesses and having a pediatrician who is a call away is vital. Pediatricians have essential skills and knowledge to address various conditions in children.

Choosing the right pediatrician is one of the best gifts you can give to your newborn baby. In fact, it is crucial to start searching for a baby doctor while pregnant.

Within your baby’s first year, you will visit the pediatrician more times than you can imagine. You need to learn how to pick a doctor who will be right for your little one.

Check out this guide on how to pick a pediatrician.

What Do Pediatricians Do?

It is essential to know the scope of a pediatrician’s role. Understanding what these doctors do will guide you in choosing the right one.

In simple terms, it is a doctor specializing in the treatment of infants, children, and young people up to 21 years.

Pediatricians maintain a child’s health through regular growth and development checkups. They vaccinate children at each stipulated stage. They also give parents practical health advice.

With their medical training, baby doctors treat a broad range of injuries and illnesses. Some of these professionals provide general healthcare, while others have diverse specialties. You can get a pediatrician specializing in cardiology, oncology, and neonatology, among other categories.

The American Board of Pediatrics has set minimum standards for such specialists. One needs to first graduate from a certified medical school. After that, the doctor must undertake a residency in pediatrics for three years before obtaining a state license.

A pediatrician can decide to train further for a particular specialty. Some baby doctors take exams to become board certified. These steps are critical in increasing their skills and competence.

How to Choose a Pediatrician

A pediatrician is a primary care doctor for your child. Choosing right will give you peace of mind as your child grows in good hands. Yet, knowing the right one for your family requires intensive vetting.

You need to consider these factors first.

1. Take your Time

Don’t wait until you deliver to get a pediatrician. Start the search as you begin your third trimester. You’ll save yourself the frustration of running around when you’re almost due.

Searching for a baby doctor in haste will make you settle for a raw deal. With limited time, you won’t be in a position to vet critically. Gather a list of your ideal pediatricians and look into each carefully.

You will rest easy once you get a commendable doctor for your baby. Get an experienced pediatrician and do the vetting gradually. With sufficient time, you can have a face-to-face interview with each listed one.

2. Interview the Identified Pediatricians

You should have an idea of what questions to ask when interviewing a pediatrician. The first thing you need to know is the pediatrician values. If your values don’t click, you should consider getting an alternative.
Ask the doctors about visits. Can I just walk into your office, or I need an appointment? What if my baby has an acute illness? This information will enable you to streamline your expectations.

Babies can be prone to unforeseen circumstances. They can fall or get a fever in the wee hours. Your pediatrician should assure you that your child will receive the appropriate care, any time.

Inquire more on the checkups. You need to know what it involves. This information helps you to make follow-ups in case the doctor fails to administer the scheduled care.

3. Look into Your Pediatrician Credentials and Experience

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated the number of pediatric jobs as 28,490 in a 2018 survey. As the number of births increases, the demand for professional pediatricians rises.

The last thing you want is to have a quack taking care of your young one’s health. You need to be sure that you’re working with a certified doctor. The level of integrity and professionalism will be evident.
A board-certification from the American Board of Pediatrics goes further to show the extent of a pediatrician’s competence.

You need to know your baby doctor’s experience. Working with a trainee who just graduated can dent your confidence in the healthcare provided. A pediatrician who has been in practice for several years has significant expertise.

4. Work with Referrals

Your doctor can refer you to the right pediatrician. You can also ask friends and family for referrals. Once you have a list, execute thorough due diligence.

You might also need to ask your referees some questions. You can ask about the appointments. Inquire how the pediatrician addresses concerns.

Request your friends or family to give you all the information about a pediatrician before you visit one. Nonetheless, your own research is indispensable. Your referee’s idea of a good doctor might not resonate with you.

You can check the experience and credentials of a pediatrician online. Learn about the best practices to know how to go about interviewing one. Starting from the point of referrals gives you headway in landing a great doctor.

5. Convenience

When finding a pediatrician, convenience should be a priority. Your child’s doctor shouldn’t be a city away. Emergencies happen, and you don’t want to drive for miles to get to the hospital.

Your ideal pediatric clinic should be in a central place. It should be easily accessible. Nonetheless, you ought not to compromise quality care for proximity.

Changing a pediatrician constantly isn’t recommendable. You need a professional who will walk with your child from infancy, all through to adolescence. That’s why you need to prioritize convenience.

Convenience does not solely focus on location. A pediatrician should ensure that you get all the services you require from a facility. Having to move to different clinics for tests can be exhausting.

6. See Your Pediatrician in Action

In a survey, 47% of parents confirmed that they spent less than 20 minutes in a pediatrician visit. Unfortunately, most popular baby doctors might not give you quality time. With a long queue at the waiting bay, a pediatrician is likely to shorten the consultation.

During your first visit, you can judge whether you’ll continue seeing the pediatrician. The office setting can give you several cues. Don’t ignore the message a disorganized office is conveying.

If your doctor isn’t giving you attention, that’s a red flag to note. One or two calls can be acceptable. But you’d be worried if your pediatrician keeps receiving or making calls amidst your conversation.

The way a pediatrician interacts with your baby is of utmost importance. The resultant bond should be mutual. Don’t shy away from changing the specialist if your current one isn’t friendly to babies.

7. Take Note of the Office/Clinic Atmosphere

In your baby’s first year, the number of pediatric visits is significant. There are several necessary checkups. Besides, with cases such as regular flu and fever, visiting a pediatrician is inevitable.

You should settle for an environment that you find comfortable for you and your baby. Check the ambiance of the waiting area. There ought to be a separate waiting bay for well visits and sick visits.

Confirm if the facility has a play area. Does it encourage children-friendly activities? Kids need a place where they can be occupied as they wait to see the doctor.

The atmosphere should be warm enough. The painting, the décor, and other designs should make your child feel at ease. If the office environment brings out tension, it might be unfriendly for the baby.

8. Know if Your Pediatrician Takes Insurance

About 44% of Americans skip a necessary hospital visit because of the high cost of healthcare. Parents might also face financial hitches trying to keep up with pediatric visits. Inquiring if a pediatrician takes insurance should be a priority.

You need to know if your health insurance covers pediatric care. Work with a doctor who is within your plan. The approach will save you from out-of-pocket costs.

If you are comfortable with cash payments, compare quotes. Pediatricians have different packages. You need to settle for a service provider whose services you can afford.

However, cost shouldn’t be your ultimate guide when choosing a pediatrician. You need a qualified doctor. Unprofessional pediatricians might lower their prices to entice parents.

9. Check Clients Reviews

The growing use of the internet has made online reviews prevalent. Sites such as HealthGrades and Yelp are some of the review sites that you can check. Many people are embracing online reviews when selecting a healthcare provider.

Identify pediatricians who have positive reviews. It’s highly likely that their services have been exceptional. Some reviewers go further to explain why you need to visit a particular baby doctor.

Conversely, you need to be keen on online reviews. Feigning reviews isn’t a new phenomenon. Some service providers request reviews from family and friends, which might have a level of bias.

Carry out individual research once you identify the best-rated pediatricians. Online reviews should be a complementary approach.

10. The Quality of the Hospital

Most pediatricians work in a hospital setting. You might have a highly qualified doctor in a low-quality hospital. Thus, also look into the facility.

You ought to check the quality of children and newborn care. You don’t want to have your infant in a place where life-saving machines are faulty. The survival rates of patients depend largely on the services in a healthcare center.

While interviewing your pediatrician, seek to know more about the hospital. Take a visit and see how each area operates. Signs such as stagnated long queues should worry you.

Visit the emergency waiting area. Note the response rate of healthcare providers. If you don’t like the quality of the hospital, it might be necessary to look for an alternative pediatrician.

11. Solo Practitioner or Group Practice

Choosing a solo practitioner or group practice is a matter you wouldn’t want to ignore. A solo practitioner is a pediatrician who operates in the office alone. The personalized experience you get with a solo practitioner is crucial for most parents.

Yet, you might need to have another appointment if your pediatrician is away on leave. Changing specialists or appointments can be destabilizing.

In a group practice, the office has several pediatricians. If yours is unavailable, you can see another doctor. Besides, group practices have several facilities, such as a lab, meaning that you can have tests within the same clinic.

Whichever option you go for, screening the pediatricians is vital. You need to be confident that the doctor has the competence to check and treat your little one.

Breaking Up With a Pediatricians

If the ride with your pediatrician has been troublesome, it’s probably time for a change. You might have conflicting values with your doctor. Regardless of your child’s age, you can choose to have another pediatrician.

However, you should consider several visits before opting to switch pediatricians. But with blatant errors such as misdiagnosis, change urgently. It would help to inform your baby doctor of your decision.
Your relationship with them should be cordial. If you don’t click, just move on. Your baby needs to be under a person you trust.


The choice of a pediatrician affects your child. You need to know how to pick aspecialist who shares your value. You can stick with an outstanding one up until your child becomes a young adult.

Start the search while still pregnant. You should have a rapport with a pediatrician before your baby arrives. With critical research, you’ll get a great specialist.

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