Choosing a Pediatrician

Choosing a Pediatrician: What to know about making this very important decision.

by Tali Toland

When you see the little pink line on the pregnancy test, a million things run through your head. Choosing a pediatrician isn’t the first thing you think of, but it’s something you should focus on sooner rather than later. According to Dr. Vivian Lennon, medical director of primary care services for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, you should choose a pediatrician as early as possible and no later than the beginning of your last trimester. “It’s important for new moms to have a pediatrician lined up when the baby is born,” says Lennon. “I recommend parents interview a few different doctors. You may end up choosing the first one, but it’s important to get a sense of what’s available.”

What to ask: Once you've decided on a few pediatricians to interview, here are a few questions you should ask. 

What are your office hours?
What days of the week do you work?
How would I contact you if I have a concern?
In the event you aren’t available, who covers for you?
What happens when I call after office hours?
Do you work Saturdays or evenings?
If so, what types of visits will you see during those hours?
Are there other doctors in the practice?
Will we also deal with them at some point?
What are the expected visits during the first year?
What is the scheduling process? 
What is the average wait time for an appointment?

Call the doctor if...

Your baby is less than three months old and has a temperature of 104 degrees or higher.
Traditional treatments don’t work.
Your child is vomiting. Children under 1 have a higher risk for dehydration.
Your child is more lethargic and irritable than normal. Parents can usually sense a change in their child’s behavior. You will know when something is not right with them.
Your child has breathing problems. Signs that your baby is having trouble breathing include difficulty eating or sucking a bottle, and a breathing pattern that is too fast or labored.