I still remember the frustration I felt when I was pregnant with my first child and looking for a pediatrician. I wanted to pick the right one but I didn’t even know where to be begin. I interview about 4 pediatricians while I was pregnant and none felt right. To make things worse, this is something that’s hard to research online since most people don’t talk about what happens behind closed doors.
A couple of months before my due date, my husband needed to get his yearly medical exam and we tried a new doctor. She was a family doctor and ended up being our baby’s doctor for almost 2 years. While she was great and very respectful of our choices, I felt like I wanted someone that focused even more on natural parenting ways.
Various circumstances in life lead me to find our current pediatrician, who is even better than I ever imagined. A pediatrician will be a very close part of your life and someone you will see quite often. That’s why choosing the right pediatrician, and one that aligns with your parenting values is extremely important.
You don’t want someone telling you to leave your baby crying when you’re against it, you also don’t want someone who hasn’t kept up with current research and advices you with outdated information.
So, is it even possible to find the perfect pediatrician?
It is certainly possible, you just need to ask around, be open and know that your first choice might not end up not being the right person for you and your family. Finding the right pediatrician is a process and you need to be patient.
The thing with pediatricians is that they work for YOU. If something doesn’t feel right, if they’re advising you to do stuff that you don’t want to do or feels wrong to you, YOU CAN FIRE THEM and look for another doctor.
This is why it’s important to remember that you might need to try several doctors before finding the right one for your family and that is okay.
But, what if you live in a small town and only have access to one pediatrician? What if this pediatrician is not up to date on current research and giving you advice that doesn’t settle well with you?
On the video below, Dr. Sears shares with us great advice on how to find the right pediatrician and also shares advice on how to interact with your pediatrician when he’s your only option and your values don’t align:
This questionnaire will help you figure out if the doctor you’re interviewing is the right fit for you family. Scroll to the end of this post to download this FREE printable.
Tips on finding the right doctor for your children
Try a family doctor
A family doctor can see everyone in your family, from babies to adults. Since most families get sick at the same time and there are many genetic components that affect everyone’s health, having a family doctor is a great choice. Plus, most of the time these doctors are more open to alternative parenting styles, like attachment parenting and positive parenting.
Interview your doctor
You can book a free appointment to chat with a doctor before deciding if they’re the right for your family. Sometimes they do group meetings and sometimes they do individual meetings. Call the office and find out how you can chat with them.
Keep in mind that what’s important to you know, might not as be as important when you have your baby. I could have never predicted that I would end up practicing attachment parenting with my babies. In fact, I didn’t even know it was a thing until I started googling what we were doing with our baby and learned all about attachment parenting.
So, whoever you interview during your pregnancy, might not be the right once you have your baby, and that is okay. You are free to change doctors whenever you want to.
Ask important questions during the interview
The easiest way to find out if a doctor is right for you and your child, is by asking them questions. I’ve compiled a list of the most important questions parents should ask their doctor.
Print out this 3 page questionnaire and take it to your next appointment. It includes questions about the practice, the doctor’s experience and points of views, insurance, how sick appointment works, baby check-ups, views on parenting philosophy and more.
Find a doctor that listens to you and doesn’t make you feel stupid
This sounds like common sense but unfortunately there are some doctors that just have that superior attitude. In my experience, doctors with a lot of knowledge also listen and are humble. They make you feel like any question is valid and you feel okay to ask anything that crosses your mind.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve called my doctor…and how many times I’ve showed up with the weirdest questions. But you know what? She’s never made me feel bad and has always taken the time to explain things to me.
You bet that I will never change doctors unless she retires or I move to another city because I trust her, I feel like I can be honest and open and I can ask anything. That’s exactly what you want out of your doctor.
Walk away if it doesn’t feel right
During the first 2 years of your child’s life you’re going to see your pediatrician a lot, and after that you will see them at least once a year. This is person that is going to give you advice and that you need to trust in case a serious medical situation happens.
You need to feel comfortable with them to ask them any questions, you need to be able to talk to them about anything and you need to be able to trust them. This doesn’t mean you have to agree on everything, but it means your doctor has to be open to chat about information you’ve found during your research and to be open to chat with you about it.
Most important, don’t forget that if you feel like this doctor is not right for your children, you can always dismiss them and look for another one. Never stay with a doctor that makes you feel bad, keep on looking until the find the right one.
Find out what happens if your child get sick
The truth is, your child will be sick at some point, hopefully with something mild like a cough but things might get complicated. You want your doctor to be someone that’s available when your child is sick and you have questions.
Some offices offer a number you can call 24/7, other have an inbox where you leave your message and they call you back soon, others just let you call during business hours so if you’re stuck going to the ER if something happens after hours. Whatever their set up is, you need to find out from the beginning what it is and if works for you.
I personally hate going to the ER because the 2 times we’ve had to go, we’ve been there for 4 hours for something that didn’t need much treatment. So I want to be able to call my doctor, have them asses the situation over the phone and go to the ER only if they think it’s necessary. I don’t want to go to the ER for every single small thing my child gets, because most of the time it’s not necessary.
The truth is I panic when my kids are sick so I would probably have gone many times to the ER if I couldn’t call my doctor and talk about what’s going on and symptoms. Most the time whatever I’m calling about just goes away but now that I’ve spoken to our pediatrician I know what to look out for and how to asses if we can stay home or need to visit the ER.
Ask for recommendations
Ask around in your neighborhood, to your friends and family, which pediatrician or family doctor they go to and why. Ask them how they have handled things when you don’t agree with them or when your child has been sick.
If you feel like none of the recommended doctors are the right fit for you, ask online. Google your city and family doctors or pediatricians and see if anyone is talking about them online.
Ask in Facebook groups, especially if you’re a natural mom. These groups have people from all over the country and you might find that someone in the group can recommend the right doctor for you.
If you are ever stuck making an important health decision for your child, you want that advice to come from someone you admire and trust, someone you can have an honest conversation with. You need to find this person now, before your child gets sick. Once your child is sick, you will be probably be too stressed out to look for a doctor so the time to find them is now.
Also, you want your doctor to get to know your child when they’re healthy. This way if something happens, they can see for themselves that your child is not acting or feeling right. That’s why we always go to our yearly appointments because this way my children are familiar with their doctor, I can ask all my weird questions and our doctor can get to them even better.
Doctors are a very important part of your parenting journey, so take the time to find one that is the right fit for your family.
Do you have any other tips on finding the right doctor for your family? Tell us in the comments.
Check out this same interview you just watched above on YouTube: