How to Find a Great Pediatrician

 July 29, 2022

It may be that you are getting ready to have a new child or perhaps you’ve moved to a new area and need to find a new pediatrician for your family.



The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents take their child in for seven well-child visits in their first year of life and those visits are just for when they are healthy. Once you add up all the times your child isn’t feeling well and the coming years of bumps, scrapes, ear infections and colds, picking the right pediatrician becomes glaringly important. Over all of these visits your pediatrician will be getting to know you and your child well and it will be essential that you feel comfortable communicating with them.

As your pediatrician will be taking care of the ones you love the most and providing guidance to you from a physical, behavioral and mental health standpoint it will be key to find someone whom you can trust. Over the years, they will perform your child’s physical exams, monitor development, diagnose and treat illnesses, and at times prescribe medication that your child may need. Usually your pediatrician will care for your child all the way up to age 18 and sometimes even longer so making the right choice from the start is worth the time it will take.


How to Start the Search

It would seem more scientific to use a complicated search algorithm, however often one of the best ways to start your search is to ask those you trust most. Start by asking your friends and family members who they use and love for their children. They will give you an honest assessment of their pediatricians and you can start to create a list of doctors to consider.



If you have moved to a new area where you know relatively few people, consider asking other health care professionals that you interact with. If you are still expecting, contemplate asking your OB-GYN or the nurses in their office for recommendations. Not only do they often come in contact with pediatricians naturally, they also will figure out which pediatrician is popular from hearing about that doctor from their other clients. If your kids are already born, ask other parents at their school or other activities you take your children to during the week. This is one area where it is good to ask advice from others in your life!


Making the Most of the Internet

Once you have a list there are numerous ways to use the internet to help refine your list down to 2-3 pediatricians. An important consideration will be if the pediatrician accepts your health insurance, is in-network and is accepting new patients. After verifying these basics, don’t be afraid to consider what your own personal preferences are for a pediatrician for your child. Things like age, gender and level of experience may seem like a biased way to make this decision however these factors can affect your rapport and your child’s rapport with the pediatrician in the future.

For example, would you prefer to have a female doctor for your female child so when your child encounters puberty it will be easier for her to discuss it without difficulty? Or do you prefer talking to someone older or someone your age when discussing decisions you are making for your child? If you feel your needs or preferences may change over the years then it may be good to consider a pediatrician that is part of a large practice. By doing this you will have the option to change providers as needed moving forward.



Use the internet to your advantage as many pediatricians either have their own website or are listed on the website of the health system they are affiliated with. On the website you can find information to take into consideration such as how many years they have been in practice, where they received their education and training, languages they speak and any areas of expertise the doctor may have for treatment. This can be especially important if your child has special healthcare needs that you are aware of already. Many pediatricians choose to become board-certified by the American Board of Pediatrics after finishing their training which can be checked by using the American Academy of Pediatrics’ directory of board-certified practitioners. In addition, if they have the letters “FAAP” after their name, it signifies that the doctor is a fellow within the organization, meaning they have reached the highest designation of membership. This credential indicates that the pediatrician is up-to-date on the most recent research and treatments when it comes to treating your child.

Also available on the website will be information to help you know when the pediatrician is available to you. Since you will be going to see them often, consider the location of the office and how easy they are to reach. The website should list information as to whether they have regular business hours, weekend hours and information as to after-hours care. Easy and convenient communication with your child’s health care team can be important, particularly with infants or children with special needs. For example, is there an on-call provider for after-hours care or do they offer same-day visits? This could make the difference in an emergency or unexpected situation.


Taking the Time for a Visit

The internet won’t tell you everything you need to know but it should help you narrow down your list to 2-3 pediatricians who appear to be a good fit. Most pediatricians will offer a free visit for you to get to know them and ask questions about their style of care for your child. Schedule this visit and take the time to write down the important questions you want to ask them while you are there. This will show respect for their busy schedule and ensure you don’t forget to ask about something that is important to you when making this decision. Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as needed to have the confidence you need to know they are the right pediatrician for your family. In order to help you be sure you are focusing on asking the right questions, ask yourself if the answer will matter to you when making the decision as to which pediatrician to pick.



During your visit, take notice of the environment and ensure it matches what you are seeking. For instance, is it important to you for the office to have a ‘well-child’ and a ‘sick-child’ entrance and waiting area? Is the waiting room kid-friendly and welcoming? Many pediatricians work with other providers including nurse practitioners, physician assistants and other pediatricians. If it is a group practice, find out if your child will see different doctors or the pediatrician you choose each time. Consider how you feel about the other practitioners and the people at the front desk in the office during your visit. If you prefer to have access to an online patient portal where you can communicate with your pediatrician, schedule appointments and review lab results, discuss this with the front desk to determine what will be available to you as a family receiving services from the practice.

When you get to meet with the pediatrician ask your questions but also consider how the doctor interacts with you and with your child. Do they seem genuinely interested in your child and your family? Consider if their views on children align with your own when speaking with the doctor. Pediatricians also hold a range of views on bottle feeding, vaccinations and helping babies learn to sleep through the night. It will be helpful in the years to come if your views align in these areas. Discuss with the doctor any special and unique needs your child may have and determine if they are familiar with providing the type of care your child may need. It is important that you feel you can speak to your pediatrician honestly and openly and without feeling judgment about how you choose to raise your child.


Final Considerations

These meetings will weed the bad pediatricians from the good, and you should have yourself a caring doctor for your child in no time. Throughout your first few visits with the doctor you chose, continue to observe how your pediatrician interacts with your child and how much attention they give to you and your family. You can use these visits to ensure it’s a good fit as your child will develop a special relationship with their pediatrician. You want to be sure your little one is comfortable with your choice as he or she grows and develops.



As a final thought, during the first visits and over the years, remember to listen to your gut. If at any time you stop feeling comfortable with the doctor, then this isn’t the right pediatrician for you anymore. As a parent you should always feel empowered to find another provider who can provide the right care for your child!

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