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How to Choose a Pediatrician for Your Baby

By Shelly L. Baldwin, MD
UAMS Department of Pediatrics
Arkansas Children's Hospital

So you are expecting a new addition to your family and are excitedly awaiting the arrival. You are experiencing so many thoughts and feelings. You want to do everything you possibly can to ensure your baby's health. That is great; you are doing wonderfully so far. Of course, one of your biggest concerns is: Who is going to be my baby's pediatrician?

Whether you are becoming a parent for the first time or you have had several children already, the birth of a new baby is a miraculous event. As such, choosing a pediatrician for your child is very important. While pediatricians are generally friendly and supportive, you will likely meet one with whom you find a special bond. If you feel comfortable with that pediatrician, you will likely be satisfied with your child's medical care. The box on the right lists qualities that you may wish to consider when you choose your child's pediatrician.

The following suggestions may also be helpful during your search:

1. Do your homework:

• Check the pediatrician's credentials;

• Find the office location and office hours; and

• Find out which insurance plans are accepted.

2. Ask others about their experience with their pediatrician:

• Often times family members, friends, and your community
may recommend a pediatrician who is well-liked and knowledgeable.

3. Consider scheduling an interview four-to-six weeks before the birth of your baby:

• Observe the office staff and clinic space;

• Ask your pediatrician what to expect after your baby is
born;

• Ask for a clinic handbook for office hours and contact infor-
mation for your pediatrician, for appointments and for ques-
tions or concerns; and

• Ask how to contact the pediatrician in case of an emergency
and ask which hospital or hospitals the pediatrician uses.

Many parents schedule an interview with a prospective pediatrician before the baby is born. During this prenatal interview, a parent may meet the pediatrician and the office staff and tour the clinic. While there, ask questions regarding scheduling the first appointment and everything from breastfeeding, newborn care, circumcision and how to contact the doctor for after-hours needs.

Choosing a pediatrician for your baby can be an exciting event. Your pediatrician will eagerly await the birth of your baby and then partner with you as your child grows and develops.

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