Here are some questions you might want to ask during an interview with a potential pediatrician: Where and when will the pediatrician examine your newborn? How does she feel about breast feeding and bottle feeding, and does she approve of the feeding method you’ve chosen?
Does she make herself available to discuss non-medical issues such as pacifier use, sleeping habits, and nutrition? Does she have regular call-in hours when you can ask questions over the phone? Does the practice offer advice and medical updates through a website? Is there a fee for phone consultations?
As you consider which pediatrician to use, think about such practical issues as the distance from the office to your home, the office hours (some pediatricians have extended hours for working parents), the doctor’s fees, her procedure for emergency visits, and how her office handles insurance. If she practices alone, find out who covers for her when she’s sick or on vacation, and try to meet that doctor briefly. If the pediatrician you interview is part of a group practice, ask if you can choose one of the doctors as your primary pediatrician.
Choose a doctor you feel comfortable talking to, since you’ll frequently consult with her about your child’s growth and development, as well as medical problems. You may find that after you start taking your child to a pediatrician, your feelings about that doctor will change. You may not have known at the time you first interviewed her that you would be facing such issues as thumb-sucking, sleep problems, or late toilet use.
You may discover that her opinions about these issues are contrary to yours. She may, for example, be against giving bottles to a toddler, while you think it’s acceptable.
In such situations, parents who feel intimidated by their pediatrician choose to hide their child’s habits when they come in for appointments. They may leave their child’s blanket, pacifier, or bottle at home, rather than face the doctor’s disapproval. Such parents may eventually grow distant from their pediatrician, seeking her advice only on medical issues.
Other parents in the same situation may become more open with their doctor, letting her know just how their child behaves and discussing differences of opinion on parenting issues. If you find yourself disagreeing with your child’s doctor too often, you’ll have to decide whether to work out a compromise or switch pediatricians and start a new relationship.