Choosing Your Baby’s Health Partner

A pediatrician is more than a doctor — he or she is your partner in keeping your baby in good health. (Not to mention a confidant, advice-giver, and developmental expert!) Because your baby’s doctor plays such an important role, it is important to find one that you feel comfortable with — choose a pediatrician who is qualified, but also one that relates well with you.

Start by asking family members, friends, relatives and your OB/GYN to recommend a pediatrician. The American Academy of Pediatrics also has an online Pediatric Referral Service at Make a list of three or four and schedule 10 to 15 minute interviews sometime during your last three months of pregnancy. And remember, just because your friend likes a doctor, doesn’t mean you will. Choose a pediatrician that has a philosophy and personality that you like.

Here are some questions to ask when you interview pediatricians:

  • Do you get your questions answered by the pediatrician or the office staff?
  • Does the pediatrician seem to know the latest advancements in pediatrics?
  • Is the doctor board certified through the American Board of Pediatrics and also a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics?
  • How helpful and friendly does the office staff seem to be when you visit?
  • Is there a separate waiting room for sick and well-care visits?
  • How will your calls concerning health questions about your child be answered?
  • What is a typical wait when you schedule an office visit?
  • Note the waiting room and office. Is there anything that troubles you about what you see?
  • What is the doctor’s pediatric background?
  • Does he or she have a subspecialty? If yes, what is it?
  • In what hospital(s) does the doctor practice?
  • Is there a time set up for the doctor to return calls during the day, or is there a best time to call with questions?
  • Who will handle your questions if the doctor is not available?
  • What are the clinic or practice office hours? Is after-hours care available?
  • How does the practice handle after hours calls and emergencies?
  • Is this clinic or doctor on your insurance plan?

When to Call the Doctor

Call the doctor at the first sign of illness if your baby is younger than 3 months. If your baby is 3 months or older, call the doctor if he or she:

  • Isn’t wetting as many diapers as usual
  • Has a temperature higher than 100˚ F for more than three days
  • Seems to have ear or sinus pain
  • Has yellow eye discharge
  • Has a cough for more than one week
  • Has a fever up to 101 F and a barking cough
  • Has a low-grade fever with diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
  • Is pulling at his or her ear and is irritable
  • Has thick, green nasal discharge for more than two weeks
  • Has a moist, productive cough with breathing that is rapid and sounds tight
  • Shows any signs of illness that worry you

Seek medical help immediately if your baby

  • Refuses to nurse or accept fluids
  • Coughs hard enough to cause vomiting or changes in skin color
  • Coughs up blood-tinged sputum
  • Has difficulty breathing or is bluish around the lips and mouth from
Categories: Infant/Pre-School, Little Ones