Choosing a Baby Doctor: Ten Questions to Ask Your Pediatrician

Many parents-to-be have discovered it's a good idea to interview possible baby doctors before the baby is born. And though today's health care plans have perhaps severely limited your choice of doctors, most plans still do have some choices. Physicians usually welcome these appointments and do not charge for prenatal interviews, but occasionally some do.

Ask if there will be a fee when you call to make the appointment. Also, ask how much time you'll have with the physician, so that you can pace your questions. Have your questions written down, and take someone with you -- your partner or a friend. One of you needs to take notes. When grandparents live nearby, some parents-to-be bring along their mom or dad, especially if this person will be seeing a lot of the grandchild.

Here's a list of common questions. Ask what is most important to you first.
1. What is your philosophy about child rearing? Do your homework and know your issues before you have this conversation. For example: Do many of the mothers in your practice breastfeed their babies successfully? Do you think children should be fed on a schedule? Sleep in the same bed with their parents? Wean at a particular time? What is your usual recommendation for babies who cry when they're put to sleep at night? What is your philosophy about antibiotics or other medication for children who have colds or other ailments? What is your opinion about infant vaccinations or circumcision?

You'll think of other questions over time as your baby grows up, but it's important to get some sense in advance of how much a baby doctor and you agree on child rearing. Otherwise, if you disagree often, you'll probably change baby doctors later anyway, or you'll avoid discussing those issues on which you disagree and you won't get the benefit of a professional opinion sometime when you'd like to have it.

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