Finding Dr. Right

How to choose a pediatrician you and your baby both will love

Locating a great pediatrician can take time and patience, so it’s a good idea to start while you are still pregnant. Considering that this potentially is the person who will guide your child’s care for the next 18 years, the effort is well worth it.

The basics First, compile a list of potential doctors, asking friends and prenatal caregivers for recommendations. Even before you meet the doctor in person, there are a number of simple but important questions to ask, many of which can be answered by the staff over the telephone. (Call in the afternoon when the office is less busy.) Here are some typical questions: Is the office open in the early morning, evenings or on weekends? Who are the doctors on call when the office is closed? n Are there regular call-in hours for talks with the pediatrician? How are emergencies handled? Will you have to go through a paging service? Will the doctor meet you at the hospital? Your next step is to schedule a visit with the pediatrician. While many doctors don’t bill for this initial interview, some will charge for an office visit. Be prepared to ask a number of questions that are important to you, such as: Do you support breastfeeding? Until the child is what age?

How do you feel about circumcision?

What are your views on the use of antibiotics?

How do you treat ear infections?

Are you open to alternative treatments for some illnesses?

How do you feel about immunizations?

Are you trained to care for a child with special needs? Even if you and the pediatrician don’t agree on every issue, you still can make the partnership work, but it’s wise to know from the beginning whether your philosophies are similar. How is the office run? When you visit the office for your interview with the pediatrician, pay attention to the way business is conducted. Are the staff members courteous? Are they accommodating to people in the waiting room? Also notice whether ill children are shown into exam rooms quickly to minimize the spread of germs. When you do find Dr. Right, you’ll realize your time was well spent. — DANA SULLIVAN