1. Introduction

While there are many pediatricians to choose from, finding the best pediatrician for your family is much easier once you know what you want and don’t want. Below is a list of the questions I asked the pediatric group I was interviewing, the main points that swayed our decision, and some of the few key pieces of information I have found that are most important to new parents. It is very important to be comfortable with your baby’s doctor. It is equally important that your parenting style and your pediatrician’s philosophies are relatively the same. The following list only touches on the medical aspect of the pediatrician. Hopefully, you all have characteristics listed that are equally as important to you. I narrowed our list of potential pediatricians to those practicing at offices within a ten-mile radius of our house. The last thing you want to do when your child is sick is to worry about a long car ride just to get to the doctor’s office.

Congratulations! Your baby is almost here! As your due date grows closer, you have probably spent months researching everything you possibly can about this new little person who will soon be a part of your family. I remember spending every free moment on the internet or buried in “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” throughout my entire second pregnancy. Just as every single book told me it would, from the very beginning my first born started to mold my schedule instead of the other way around, and I found that the one question that never stopped floating around in my head was “Have I done everything I can for him?”. So I created a little series that would tell expectant parents just about everything I wish I had known. Research is showing that expectant parents worry more about finding the perfect doctor for their baby than any other decision they need to make.

1.1. Importance of Choosing the Right Pediatrician

The first few days of your baby’s life are absolutely critical ones for you and your new pediatrician. They’ll be in charge of keeping an eye on the health of your new baby and answering any questions you may have. Plus, your pediatrician’s guidance during the first 16 months or so of your baby’s life will help set your child up for a lifetime of good health. Therefore, it’s critical to pick the best pediatrician for your own parenting style. Even better, when you do find the perfect practitioner, the pediatrician can also provide helpful recommendations for other professionals in your corner such as lactation consultants, postpartum support groups, and childbirth education. Since the quality of care you receive as an adult is largely based on the quality of care that you received as a child, finding the right pediatrician is perhaps even more important than selecting an internist for your own adult care.

Choosing the right pediatrician for your newborn is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. While it’s essential to interview multiple candidates to make sure that the one you hire has the personality, experience, and location to be the right fit for your family, many pediatricians won’t take a new patient once the baby is born. This means that your choice of pediatrician may preclude the use of certain hospitals, birthing centers, or even have an impact on your birth plan. If possible, meet with multiple pediatricians or practices during the second trimester so that you have the information you need to make the right choice of birth location as well. You can easily schedule multiple interviews in one morning or afternoon by making a list of the top candidates and calling to arrange interviews.

2. Step 1: Understand Your Needs

The first step is to understand that finding a pediatrician isn’t really about finding a good doctor; it’s about finding the doctor that is the best fit for you and your family. Pediatricians that have great relationships with one family may have very different dynamics with another family. There are many criteria to consider, and the idea is to understand your needs and then investigate how potential pediatricians match those needs. It’s a sort of matchmaking endeavor. How are you going to know if a potential pediatrician is a good fit if you don’t first understand what you are looking for?

Congratulations! You’re having a baby. You’re probably already planning the nursery and buying tiny clothes. It’s a fun time. There are, however, many practical things to consider with a new baby on the horizon, and one of the most important is selecting the perfect pediatrician. Choosing the right pediatrician means one less thing to worry about once your baby is born, so it’s a good idea to take care of this before the due date. We’re here to help. This is part 1 of a 3-part series to help find the perfect pediatrician for your baby.

2.1. Assessing Your Parenting Style and Beliefs

Do you have anyone helping you make healthcare decisions? For example, a partner, relative, friend, etc. If so, how can the pediatric practice coordinate with this person?

Do you believe in alternative or complementary medicine for your child? Speaking to a pediatrician who has experience in these areas and can support your decisions will reduce the stress of caring for a sick child.

Are you an attachment parent? This style of parenting focuses on nourishing your child’s emotional and physical needs. For an attachment parent, it can be difficult to let your child cry themselves to sleep.

Do you plan on vaccinating your new baby on a regular schedule as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics?

How do you feel about sleep training? If this is something you believe in, making sure to articulate your plans to your pediatrician in order to gain support and/or feedback.

Do you believe that breastfeeding is the best source of nutrition for your baby? Some pediatricians will advise that you supplement breastfeeding with formula if your child does not gain weight, while others will encourage you to keep trying to breastfeed and/or feed your baby pumped breast milk.

The first step in finding the right pediatrician for your newborn is to consider your style as a new parent. Are there any beliefs, values, or concerns that you have about the raising of your baby that you believe we should share? Specifically:

3. Step 2: Research Potential Pediatricians

Is the pediatrician close to directly affiliated with a hospital near you? Also verify the pediatric office is accepting new patients and that they accept your insurance plan. You can use our doctor appointment research log to keep track of your findings. Once you have a recommendation or two in hand, head to the pediatric office website. If you’re finding the pediatrician through a healthcare provider network, that office will have all the doctors accepting new patients. If the potential recommended doctor has a private practice, like the one we went with, the doctors are often listed with their history on the practice’s website. Make sure you get a feel for the range of services offered. Finally, take note of the office atmosphere. A comfortable and well-run office that allows for a family-friendly environment can provide a better potential connection with the pediatrician.

Start by asking friends for their recommendations, and don’t forget to ask children for input as well. Once you have the list, check each potential pediatrician’s training and credentials. Not every doctor is board-certified. Then visit the American Board of Pediatrics website to verify the doctor you’re interested in is board certified. Take note of the medical school the pediatrician attended. When you make your first appointment, ask for educational backgrounds of all the doctors in the practice. This may seem over the top, but it is important that everyone is on a similar page when it comes to advising for your child’s health. Look over how long each person has been practicing. Then look for modern office features. Does the pediatrician work in a modern practice with electronic health and prescription capabilities, and do they have after-hours accessibility for support when you need it?

3.1. Sources of Recommendations

It is best not to select a pediatrician without considering other recommendations. It may be best not to ask non-medical professionals for a pediatrician recommendation, unless you trust them. For example, a colleague may know other pediatricians with a good reputation, but a shop owner or waitress may know only one that she sees when he buys groceries or eats in her restaurant. Hospital, birthing center, and midwife personnel, delivery room and postnatal staff, and nurses are professionals who can give informed guidance. They observe and work with multiple pediatricians. Typically they know which pediatricians have a good bedside manner, are approachable for parents, are conservative or liberal in their approach to baby problems, are responsive, etc. They also know which pediatricians come to the hospital when summoned (rather than making the family wait), which ones follow patients well, etc. Of course, other doctors, nurses, physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners will have colleagues whose care they can assess.

4. Step 3: Initial Contact and Consultation

What are the sample questions to ask during a pediatrician consultation? Many parents have mental or written lists of a series of questions to ask and topics to bring up during the pediatrician consultation. Here are some sample questions and topics discussed by Redditors on the July 2019 Babies board: How do they handle calls during office hours? What about calls when the office is closed? Which hospital are they affiliated with? Do their office times work with your schedule? Do you believe a “happy medium” of vaccination is okay? What is your view on food introduction and what are some signs should I look for when my baby is ready? Do you have a social media policy and proper ventilation when discussing pictures online? What are our options if we choose to exclusively pump or use formula feed? What type of baby gear do you recommend? What are your sleep training views and what resources do you have for advice?

Now that you have a starter list of what new pediatricians all accept your insurance and are accepting new patients, call each one to ask if they’re scheduling free initial consultations. Many hold specific days/hours for meeting-and-greets, and some may even offer group sessions or open houses for expecting families to help guide you in your decision-making. For some parents, nailing down a pediatrician based off a phone call or a quick in-office visit may not be detailed enough, as many feel more comfortable after speaking with them and asking specific questions related to their personal parenting styles and concerns.

4.1. Setting Up Interviews

If you are interviewing potential pediatricians for your newborn, then be sure to have prepared some breastfeeding-related questions. Do they have a lactation consultant on staff? What is their approach to common breastfeeding challenges? Will you need a separate appointment if you have any breastfeeding problems? After the meet and greet, see if you think the pediatrician listened to your questions. Did they give you the impression they care about you and your concerns? If the appointment was delayed, did he or she apologize upon meeting you, explaining the situation? Did they make time for your conversation or were you rushed out the door? First impressions are important. Use your intuition!

The next step in the process of finding the perfect pediatrician is setting up interviews. After talking with friends, family members, and other new parents, and gathering recommendations, ask your potential pediatrician some important questions so you can be sure you are choosing the best for your child. Most offices will allow you to go for a visit. Schedule a meet and greet to talk with the doctor and staff and see the office you are considering. Call their office secretary prior to the visit so that you can meet the criteria of items to look for and questions to ask.

5. Step 4: Evaluate the Pediatrician

Assess your comfort with each of the pediatricians with whom you come in contact. Do they answer all your questions? Do they seem interested in you or distracted? Dr. Hoecker also suggests borrowing a page from Goldilocks: “Don’t settle,” he advises. “You need the right pediatrician – not too aggressive, but candid; not too passive, but cooperative. Avoid a pediatrician who writes off your concerns. At the same time, be wary of the doctor who repeatedly orders laboratory tests, X-rays, and specialist visits.” The search will be well worth it when you find the doctors who are just right.

“In choosing a pediatrician for your baby, you would like one with whom you will feel comfortable and for whom you have respect,” writes Dr. Jay L. Hoecker. “You’d like a pediatrician who’s accessible and caring, and who takes the time to answer your questions.” If the office staff seems less than helpful now, before you’ve actually become a client, the quality of the staff is unlikely to improve after you have committed to the practice. Call the office with a list of questions, and gauge your own comfort with interfacing with the system. Are appointments easy to come by? What does the practice do when a patient has an important question during off-hours?

5.1. Assessing Qualifications and Experience

All pediatricians are required to complete undergraduate degrees, then attend medical schools to complete doctoral studies in general medicine and specialized studies in pediatrics. After these studies, he or she must attend a 3 to 4-year residency program that provides specialized training in the pediatric field under the supervision of board-certified pediatricians. Once qualified, the pediatrician can seek certification from the American Board of Pediatrics or based on the country where the specialist practices. Also, the specialist must be licensed to practice in the state where the specialist is practicing. Despite all this theoretical background, many studies are finding some discomfort in the medical doctors’ knowledge and attitudes regarding the oral health of infants. It reinforces the need for the pediatrician’s qualifications to be investigated in order to prevent oral health problems for newborns from arising.

6. Step 5: Making the Final Decision

Visiting a pediatrician’s office will also help with the final decision. Are all ages welcome and appear to be equally welcome? The office might offer a waiting area separated by a partition, one side for the well children and the other side for the sick children. But, are all the children treated and seen in the same rooms? Consider keeping a copy of your questions with you when you visit the offices for an appointment. If during the course of the conversation most of your questions are answered, just say you had a nice formula for discussion. If only some of your questions are answered, then you may want to schedule a prenatal appointment during one of your other office visits. Keep in mind that many practices have approximately ten to twenty newborns each month who are making prenatal visits. So if the staff appears to be brusque, anxious, or hurried during the visits, you should consider visiting the office when no appointment is necessary.

With a list of three to six pediatricians, it is time to move to the final step in your preparations. Visiting the pediatrician’s office is the last step before making the final decision. Visiting the pediatrician’s office can be the deciding factor for those parents who would choose otherwise. Most parents want to know if the pediatrician’s office is like an amusement park visit or a doctor’s visit. You will not be able to get inside and see a pediatrician at work, but an office visit can answer the following questions: Is the wait long? Are the secretaries or receptionists polite, helpful, and informed? Are the sick and the well children in the same waiting area and seen in the same room? Are the examination rooms infant-friendly? Will Mom and the baby be able to visit the pediatrician, at least for check-ups, without leaving the building?

6.1. Considering Practical Factors

Speaking of parking, if your pediatrician’s office is in the heart of downtown, consider the headache of finding a parking place every time you take your child to the pediatrician. On the other hand, if you are a stay-at-home mom or dad living in a cul-de-sac neighborhood, an office located in town with limited parking and the hassles of traffic might make you think twice. Other important practical considerations include the office setup. Do they have a separate well-child waiting area from the sick-child area? Take a look at the condition, cleanliness and kid-friendliness of the office waiting room. Will your child enjoy the video games or toys while waiting for a doctor to call you? Is there enough space for your child to play? To go a step further, consider the number of bathrooms and the parking situation. Yes, basing your decision on such details should be that trivial, because pediatrician visits are bound to be a significant part of your child’s life.

Think about what is best for your family. Will you be stretched too thin by driving across town to get to the pediatrician’s office in time for the last appointment of the evening? Could your child’s care be delayed if your pediatrician’s office is constantly full? Aside from office hours, think about the availability of pediatricians in the practice and the office’s proximity to your home or work. You might want to drive by a pediatrician’s office a few times during the week to see how long it takes and how convenient it is to park.

7. Conclusion

No matter how you ended up finding your pediatrician, the final decision should be made after meeting the doctor face to face. Take into account how you were received for your appointment; this is likely how most of your visits will be. Ask yourself and your partner if you were addressed and treated with respect and enthusiasm. Good doctors must love seeing children and when they do, they will take the time to answer all your questions. Remember, there are never stupid questions, particularly when it comes to taking care of your baby. Make sure your questions are answered sufficiently and that your doctor maintains proper eye contact. Finally, choose someone who you believe you and your baby will be comfortable with not only in times of good health, but also in times of need, because when your baby is sick, you will need their expertise, support and guidance.

7.1. The Lasting Impact of Choosing the Right Pediatrician

Moreover, results from the experiences of many pediatricians around the country show that finding the right pediatrician from the beginning usually reduces a predictable number of unnecessary phone calls from anxious and well-meaning first-time parents. Finding the right pediatrician is one of the first opportunities for new parents to make important decisions about the resources they are going to choose to help them throughout the lifelong learning experience of raising their child. By helping make their first experience a positive one, parents who find the right pediatrician are more likely to build upon successes and choices and follow through on recommendations from professionals and healthcare providers. By showing their new patients’ parents that they care, pediatricians can effectively help encourage the navigation of an often complicated and fragmented system for obtaining specialized care. Prompt recovery, healthy lives are always the ultimate benefit and goal.

Ultimately, parents’ peace of mind is probably the most important intangible quality of finding the right pediatrician. Complementing the care and health of their newborn, it’s clearly seen in the joy and excitement of the new baby’s life. Many parents who find the right pediatrician take comfort in knowing that they have a lifelong resource and support system in caring for their child. Most pediatricians grow to know their patients and their families quite well and become a rich and varied resource on raising children and helping first-time parents avoid mistakes that may result from inexperience. Choose the right pediatrician, and you’ll enjoy peace of mind and perhaps even feel as though your pediatrician is a part of your extended family. Parents whose newborns need to be seen by multiple pediatricians until the right fit is found all often report a sense of added stress in their own lives. They also seem to take longer to relax and enjoy their maternity leave.

Interested? Visit us for more information!


Gren, Caroline, et al. ““We can’t do without it”: Parent and call-handler experiences of video triage of children at a medical helpline.” PLoS One 17.4 (2022): e0266007. plos.org

Gren, Caroline, et al. “How parents express their worry in calls to a medical helpline: a mixed methods study.” BMC primary care 23.1 (2022): 80. springer.com

Chi, K. W., Coon, E. R., Destino, L., and Schroeder, A. R. “Parental perspectives on continuous pulse oximetry use in bronchiolitis hospitalizations.” Pediatrics, 2020. nih.gov

Peeters, Daphne, et al. Parental and physician’s point-of-view towards antibiotic prescriptions and discharge conversations in the pediatric emergency department.” BMC pediatrics 22.1 (2022): 121. springer.com

Rosenberg Danziger, Chen, et al. “Pediatrician, watch out for corona-phobia.” European journal of pediatrics 180 (2021): 201-206. springer.com

Missler, M., van Straten, A., Denissen, J., and Donker…, T. “Effectiveness of a psycho-educational intervention for expecting parents to prevent postpartum parenting stress, depression and anxiety: a randomized controlled trial.” BMC Pregnancy and …, 2020. springer.com

Wozney, Lori, et al. “Electronic discharge communication tools used in pediatric emergency departments: systematic review.” JMIR Pediatrics and Parenting 5.2 (2022): e36878. jmir.org

Flynn, Kathryn E., et al. “Smartphone-based video antenatal preterm birth education: the preemie prep for parents randomized clinical trial.” JAMA pediatrics 177.9 (2023): 921-929. jamanetwork.com

Kerr, A. M., Rubinsky, V., and Duty, K. “Pediatricians’ Communication about Medical Uncertainty: Goal-Oriented Communication and Uncertainty Management.” Health Communication, 2023. [HTML]

Klotz, Kerstin Alexandra, et al. “Telehealth for children with epilepsy is effective and reduces anxiety independent of healthcare setting.” Frontiers in pediatrics 9 (2021): 642381. frontiersin.org