How To Choose A Pediatrician Flickr / Brett Neilson
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How To Find The Perfect Pediatrician For Your Kid

Up until delivery day, you’ve been skulking around prenatal appointments while your partner’s OB/GYN talks about stuff that will probably scar you forever. In fact, you may never be the same after that graphic description of an episiotomy.

Good news! Very soon you’ll be involved with a new doctor who is way less concerned about your partner’s parts and way more concerned about all the parts of your new baby. And you should be looking for that person before your kid is born.

But how do you go about finding this magical creature called a pediatrician? Does it involve unicorn blood and special incantations? A quick survey of the bitchiest Yelp reviews? Nope. Nope. And Nope. Just read on.

flickr / Naval Surface Warriors

flickr / Naval Surface Warriors

Where To Start

You may have very well alienated all of your friends with kids a very long time ago (don’t worry, it’ll happen to you too). Now is the perfect time to reconnect. Chances are they may have gone through a couple of pediatricians by now. Learn from them. Get a few referrals. After all, that’s how they got you hooked up with your weed guy back in the day. Haven’t seen a dandelion since!

If you and your partner don’t have any friends then, bummer for you, bro. The good news is that the American Academy of Pediatricians would love to be your friend. They have a pediatrician search on their website. Once you track a few down, get the barbecue tongs out because it’s time to grill them.

flickr / Jason Lander

flickr / Jason Lander

Some Old-Fashioned Questioning

You’ll definitely want to make an appointment and meet any prospective docs face to face. In fact, the process of setting up that appointment and hanging out in the waiting room will give you plenty of info. You’ll feel like some kind of Sherlock (but without the pesky heroine addiction). How long were you on hold? Was the receptionist attentive? Is the waiting room joyful or somber? Do kids look like they want to run in terror when the nurse calls their name? If so, maybe Ratchet back your interest.

Questions To Ask The Prospective Doc

  • How soon will they start seeing your kid? A lot of pediatricians like to see the kid a few times before the family is discharged. This gives them a really good foundation on who your kid is (and enables them to start charging you right away!)
  • Are they associated with a certain hospital? If so, make sure that facility takes your insurance and isn’t too far from your home. You’ll want to limit the amount of time your kid can spend projectile vomiting in your ride.
flickr / McLevn

flickr / McLevn

  • When and how are they available? Knowing how/if you can reach them on a Saturday or late at night helps you understand how much they’re putting into their practice, and how much they’re practicing their putting.
  • Do they have kids? You don’t have to have kids in order to be a pediatrician, but it helps build empathy. It’s one thing to like kids. It’s another thing entirely to know what it’s like to be a parent staring down a 102-degree fever at 3 AM. No fun. That’s what it’s like.
  • Are there same day appointments? Same day appointments are crucial when your kid’s yuck factor reaches a certain level. You’ll want to follow up this question by asking if the doc will be the one who’ll see them at these times.
  • Who do you see when the docs not there? Doctor’s get sick (you would, too, if this was your job), so it’s best to make sure the backup isn’t an asshole.
flickr / Russell Harrison

flickr / Russell Harrison

  • How do they feel about (insert tricky subject here)? Breastfeeding until 5-years-old? Modified vaccination schedules? Alternative potty-training methods? There are plenty of tricky subjects you’ll want to make sure that you and the doc are gelling on. Otherwise things are going to get super awkward.

The Final Assessment

Once you’ve checked out your prospective docs’ credentials, it’s time to think about chemistry. Sit down with your partner and ask yourself: Is this really the person who’ll give me the peace of mind I need when my kid has some godawful rash on their ass and is screaming like they’re being tortured by nightmare monsters? That answer will point the way to your new doc.

Now bake them some cookies. It can’t hurt.

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