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 www.aap.org/referral. 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 familydoctor.org