7 Tips for Picking a Pediatrician

young family sitting on a couch in the backyard

There are many things in life that don’t require any homework or proper research. However, picking a pediatrician for your child is not one of them. It is important to spend a little bit of time and energy to make sure you find a doctor that will be the best fit for you and your family. So in your search to find that great doctor, here are a few helpful tips to help you along the way.

1- Do your homework

Start your search for a pediatrician by doing a little bit of research and detective work. Get referrals from

  • your obstetrician/gynecologist or nurse-midwife,
  • family friends,
  • acquaintances, and
  • other parents you know.

Word of mouth and one-to-one recommendations are a great place to start. When purchasing a product online, very few of us would do so without glancing at the reviews. Picking a pediatrician is much the same. Get some reviews. First-hand references from people you already know and trust are the best way to do this. If you can’t get any names or reviews of prospective doctors, then do some online research or ask your insurance provider which doctors in your area are covered under your plan.

2- Make sure the pediatrician is certified

Is the pediatrician you’re interested in certified by the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP)? Or are they a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)?

You can check here: https://www.abp.org/content/verification-certification

If the doctor is certified, they will have an “FAAP” after his or her name. This means she/he has met established standards for providing child health care.

3- Does the doctor have specialized training?

This may be particularly important to know if your child has special medical needs and requires some extra help. The same is true for any other special medical or physical needs that your child may require. Finding someone with a bit more expertise may be is important.

4- Narrow down and interview

It may sound odd to interview someone for the job as your pediatrician but that’s what you should do. You want a doctor that will suit your family’s needs and requirements. After narrowing down your choices to two or three doctors, it’s time to get specific questions answered.

When possible, set up face-to-face meetings with each doctor. These don’t need to be any longer than 15-20 minutes. Doing so will give you an opportunity to get to know the doctor and his/her staff and to ask about their policies. You’ll also get a good idea of their personality which will go a long way toward your relationship with your family pediatrician.

Some questions you can ask:

  • What is your childcare policy? (ie. in terms of breastfeeding, circumcision, alternative medicines, etc.)
  • Are you part of a group practice? If you go to a doctor in a solo practice, it’s easy to know exactly whom you’ll be dealing with. If the physician is part of a group practice, ask
    • how often you may get to see them,
    • who their colleagues are, and
    • how easy or difficult it will be to see the same doctor each time you visit.

For the sake of continuity, it’s always easier for the doctor, parents, and child to deal solely with one another as much as possible.

  • How are emergencies handled? Some offices accommodate same-day walk-in visits. Ask how after-hours emergencies and questions are handled. Young children especially will likely be in and out of the doctor’s office quite often. It’s important to know how easy/difficult it will be to make different appointments
  • Is there a call-in policy? Some pediatricians have a specific call-in period each day. In some practices, a nurse answers routine questions.
  • Does the practice accept your insurance or does it accept a variety of plans in case your coverage changes? What are the payment plan options if you don’t have coverage?
  • Look for a doctor that welcomes questions from you, seems to enjoy working with children, and takes the time to discuss problems and listen to your concerns.

*NOTE: When setting up an interview, be sure to ask if the doctor charges for such a meeting. Some practices do and others don’t.

5- Location

Consider location when choosing a pediatrician. If your child is sick, the last thing you want to do is travel long distances. This may mean sacrificing your first choice pediatrician for your second choice doctor if your second choice is much closer to home. If you take into account drive time and waiting room time, you may want to pick a pediatrician closer to home. However, never base your decision solely on location, but do consider it.

6- Hospital affiliation

Find out which hospital the doctor is affiliated with and make sure your insurance covers services there. With regards to the hospital, find out what their visiting policies are -ie. if your child has to be admitted, if you can stay overnight, or if there is 24-hour visiting for parents.

7- What kind of practitioner should I look for?

Many parents want their babies or children to have a dedicated pediatrician (a doctor who specializes in the care of children). For obvious reasons, this has many benefits. On the other hand, other parents are happy to stick with their family practitioner. While these doctors don’t solely specialize in childhood medicine, they can treat the whole family, from birth to old age.

Either type of doctor is fine, as long as you feel comfortable and confident about your child’s care.

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27 thoughts on “7 Tips for Picking a Pediatrician

  1. Tyler Meredith says:

    I like what this article mentions about how important location is. It makes sense that choosing a doctor that’s close by is important because a sick child isn’t going to want to sit in the car for an hour when trying to get them to the doctor. It’s something I’ll have to keep in mind for when I move to make sure I find a quality doctor that’s convenient to get to.

  2. Tomas Killington says:

    My wife is pregnant with our first child. We have been looking for a pediatrician to make sure that he/she will be well taken care of. I didn’t realize that it is a good idea to see if the pediatrician is affiliated with any near by hospitals to ensure there services are covered by your insurance. I’ll be sure to remember that as we continue our search.

    • Heidi Bagley says:

      Yes it’s an easy thing to overlook but it is so convenient when your pediatrician works at an affiliated hospital and can be a great reference for you if you child needs additional services.

  3. John Mahoney says:

    Thank you for talking about choosing a pediatrician based on your location. It makes sense that keeping this in mind can help you make sure you find a convenient office to go to and call in case of an emergency. I would want to find a professional that has experience with kids and can provide tips on how to keep my family safe and healthy.

    • Heidi Bagley says:

      Thank you for your comment!Yes having a convenient location is huge! The last thing you want to do with a sick kid is have to take them for a long car ride or get stuck in traffic etc.

    • Heidi Bagley says:

      Thank you for your comment. Personality has been a really important thing with my son and his pediatrician so I completely agree with you.

  4. Tiffany Locke says:

    Getting first-hand references from people you already know and trust is a great way to find a pediatrician. Making sure you find someone that you can trust and make sure the job gets done properly is important. Checking what hours different pediatricians are opened would be a good idea to make sure you’ll be able to fit appointments in your schedule.

  5. Westchester NY Pediatrics says:

    When trying to find the perfect pediatrician for a child starting with referrals from friends and family is a good idea. Interviewing a pediatrician may seem strange at first but it really is a great way to find the perfect fit. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Gloria Durst says:

    I like how you say that you would want to find a pediatrician who is specalized in pediatric care. It would make sense to find a doctor who not only has this education but also has experience. My husband and I are looking for a doctor for our daughter, so we’ll have to find someone who is properly specialized.

  7. Sandra Hexner says:

    I thought that pediatric doctors are pretty much all the same. I am in the search for one because I’m due this fall. Your point that some kids really do need a specialized doctor and that I need to keep that in mind as I search. I may hold off until the baby is born to start calling around. Also, thanks for the reminder to ask if I’ll be shuffled to several doctors or just stick with one, I think that will make a big difference too. Thanks!

  8. Carolina Hughes says:

    I like that you mentioned the importance of choosing a pediatrician that’s close to your location to make sure that your child will be checked immediately if an emergency arises. We just moved here in our place, and I want to make sure to find a clinic that my son can regularly visit whenever he needs to. For me, choosing a pediatrician located near your place makes everything convenient. I will make sure to remember all your tips on choosing a pediatrician. Thanks!

  9. Amanda Drew says:

    I think that it’s a good idea to ask about how the physician handles an emergency like you suggest. My husband and I are going to be moving to a new city with our three-year-old daughter. She has asthma, so she needs to go to the doctor often. Your tips should help us find a great pediatric physician who’ll be close to us.

  10. Bobby Saint says:

    You made a good point when you said to do your homework when looking for the right pediatrician for your child. One way to do this is by asking for references from people you know such as your friends, family, and even your wife’s gynecologist. They may be able to recommend someone whom they have worked with previously. Gather some feedback to get an idea if this doctor meets your qualifications. If I were to look for a pediatric doctor for my son, I would make sure to take this into account. Thanks.

  11. Gerty Gift says:

    I liked your suggestion to ask about how emergencies are handled. I just know that my kids are going to eat something wrong or some other thing someday. I hope that asking this question will help me find someone that will be effective in helping my children.

  12. Derek Dewitt says:

    My wife and I just moved to a new town, so we are looking for a pediatrician to start visiting. I like your point about narrowing down your choices and then conducting face-to-face interviews with different professionals. We’ll be sure to do this so we can ask about policies and fees.

  13. Easton Memmott says:

    I like that you mentioned that you should check if your pediatrician and allocated hospital are both under your insurance coverage plan. I need to find a pediatrician for my son, and I want to be sure that I do it right. I will be sure to check our insurance coverage on our pediatrician.

  14. Derek Dewitt says:

    My wife and I just moved to a new area, so we are looking for a pediatrician to start visiting in town. I like your point about getting referrals from family and friends. I’ll have to try asking some family in the area if there is a specific clinic they visit.

  15. Sarah Smith says:

    My sister is giving birth to her first child in another couple months and is starting to look into a pediatrician. She would really appreciate your advice to get referrals from family friends or her gynecologist to find a quality pediatrician. I’m sure with this tip she should find a reliable doctor to take care of her son.

  16. Millie Hue says:

    I totally agree when you said that it will not be convenient if the location of their medical facility is far from home since you need to make your child comfortable while taking them there. I will keep that in mind now that I need to find a doctor for my kid after moving into this location this year. He is not sick yet, but I need to be prepared because we will never know when our kids can get sick since they can get exposed to germs and bacteria due to the way they play.

  17. Jeff Wilcox says:

    I like the tip that you gave to choose a doctor who you could interview before you hire them. My wife and I have been talking about finding a doctor to help our son figure out what he is allergic to that is causing his hives, and it would be important for us to know that we could find one who we could be confident in. If we decide to find a doctor, I will be sure to look for one who we could interview before we would hire.

  18. Drake Welsh says:

    I thought that it was helpful when you suggested to interview a pediatrician before you hire them. We are going to adopt a child soon, and we will want the right doctor for him. When we do, I will be sure to interview a doctor before we hire them.

  19. Eli Richardson says:

    I’m glad you talked about what you need to research before choosing a pediatrician. Recently, my sister said she believes it’s time for her kids to get their vaccines. My sister moved from her old house, so she needs to find a reliable doctor, and I think your article will definitely help. Thanks for the advice on only hiring certified pediatricians for your child’s needs.

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