How to Handle… Choosing a Pediatrician
Three takes on finding the best doctor for your child
Your family’s perfect match out there… you simply have to find her (or him). We asked a blogger, a doctor, and a celeb—all of whom are also moms—for their advice on streamlining the search for the perfect pediatrician.
Jennifer Linney, mom of two in Fort Worth, Texas, and blogger at Bug and the Sweet Banana
“With Connor, my firstborn, I chose a pediatrician by the book: I researched doctors and their practices, I interviewed a handful of doctors, and I made a choice based on views and personality, ease of getting an appointment, location. I decided on a sole practitioner with whom I felt a good rapport and whose office was located in the quaint old town district within walking distance of our home.
“Only once my son arrived and we had a handful of appointments did I realize that the waiting area and the exam rooms were way too small for comfort. Add a fussy baby, a stroller with car seat attached, a shell-shocked mom and a sleep-deprived dad, an overflowing diaper bag, and winter coats, and we were always anxious to make our getaway by the time the doctor entered the room.
“A few months later, the pediatrician told us that she was joining up with some other pediatricians and moving to a larger office. We liked the doctor and made the switch with her, but when it became difficult to schedule appointments, when the receptionists felt the need to always call me ‘Mom,’ and when we missed a flu shot clinic and were then told we couldn’t receive the shots until several months down the line (I was told, “We had signs up saying when the clinics would be”), we ended up switching to a sole practitioner a friend had recommended to me.
“Although this new doctor’s office is a little out of the way, appointments are easy to schedule, the office staff are organized and know us all by name (no more ‘Here’s your insurance card, Mom!’), and they make billing and insurance matters easy. Given how much interfacing new parents need to do with their pediatricians’ offices during a new baby’s first year, I’ve learned sometimes it’s the little things that matter the most… and sometimes you don’t know what those are until you’re actually experiencing them.”
Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, MBE, FAAP, pediatrician and author of Seattle Children’s Hospital’s Seattle Mama Doc Blog
“Beyond asking your friends and family for recommendations, you can utilize the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) referral information about pediatricians recommended by the Academy. This stamp of approval comes with a guarantee that the physician was trained at a reputable medical school, completed training and passed the board exams in pediatrics. Most clinics that care for children maintain websites, too; take time to read potential doctors’ bios to get a sense of who they are.
“Remember that, whoever you decide upon, it’s never too late to transfer care. Pediatricians want you to be comfortable with your care. If the ‘fit’ isn’t quite right, move on. You can even ask your doctor’s office for recommendations.”
Alicia Silverstone, acclaimed actress, activist and author of The Kind Diet and the upcoming book The Kind Mama
“When we were looking for a pediatrician for [our son] Bear, it was important to us to find one who shared our understanding of natural health. That meant finding a doctor who wouldn’t try to push unnecessary drugs and vaccines on my child, as well as someone who was excited about my vegan lifestyle.
“I started my search by asking my healthiest mama friends and my midwife for recommendations. There were a few doctors who everyone spoke highly of, so we met with them or joined their group consultations.
“They were all great, and two of them happened to be vegan themselves. They were all very supportive of natural health, and the one we chose had views on vaccination and medicine that aligned closest with ours. That said, my husband and I have only taken Bear to see him twice because we feel like he is so healthy and if we feel inspired to go, we will. Doctors emphasize the importance of regular ‘wellness’ visits, but Bear is thriving and healthy beyond belief. And we feel great about that.”
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