Welcoming your new baby into the world is both exciting and overwhelming. You have the joy of a new life, but with that life comes a plethora of responsibilities.
One of those responsibilities — and arguably the most important task for any new parent — is choosing a pediatrician and establishing a strong relationship with them. Your child’s pediatrician is an essential source of both support and information through their crucial developmental years.
To help this relationship work best for everyone involved, here are 15 questions you should ask during your first pediatrician visit.
1. What Is Your Pediatric Training and Experience?
Asking about your pediatrician’s qualifications and experience can help you feel more confident that you’re making a good decision on your child’s behalf. The pediatrician you work with should be board-certified and have completed an accredited pediatric residency program. You can typically find this information on their website.
2. What Is the Procedure for After-Hours Emergencies?
You can find your pediatrician’s office hours online. However, asking about the availability of appointments and what to do during emergencies outside of office hours will help you formulate a plan for your child should they need urgent care.
3. What Are the Best Ways to Reach You for Questions or Concerns?
Every pediatrician operates uniquely, with some preferring calls and others the messaging software included in patient portals. Find out how your pediatrician prefers to communicate about non-emergency questions or concerns.
4. What Is Your Vaccination Policy?
Talk to your pediatrician about their vaccination policy. This will help you follow a recommended immunization schedule to protect your child from preventable diseases.
5. How Often Do We Schedule Well-Child Visits?
Well-child visits are standard appointments for tracking your child’s growth and development. These visits also provide you with an opportunity to address any other concerns. Ask your pediatrician about the recommended frequency of these appointments during your child’s developmental years.
6. What Should I Expect During a Well-Child Visit?
Knowing what to expect during a well-child visit can help you better prepare for the future. Your pediatrician will likely want to discuss development, growth, vaccinations, and any recommended screenings. Knowing the structure will help you anticipate and prepare any questions.
7. How Do You Handle Developmental and Behavioral Concerns?
Every child develops differently, but your child should be on track to hit recommended milestones. If you have any concerns about your child’s development, you should talk to your pediatrician about how to approach these issues. They should be able to provide guidance and referrals to specialists when needed.
8. How Do You Support Breastfeeding, and Do You Work with Lactation Consultants?
Breastfeeding can be challenging, even if you’ve done it before. If you plan to breastfeed, you will want your pediatrician’s support. It’s possible that they work with lactation consultants or even have one on staff, which could be a beneficial resource.
9. What’s Your Approach to Common Newborn Issues Like Colic, Jaundice, and Sleep Issues?
Most newborns experience issues like jaundice, colic, and sleep problems. Your pediatrician should have guidance and suggestions for managing these challenges.
10. What Are Your Recommendations for Safe Sleep Practices?
Safe sleep practices can help reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and other sleep-related hazards. Talk to your pediatrician about their recommendations for creating a safe sleep environment for your child, often including particular bedding, sleep positions, and room temperatures.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
As a new or seasoned parent, you can never ask too many questions about your child’s health and well-being. And your pediatrician is one of the most important relationships to establish on behalf of your child.
Asking questions about the pediatrician’s experience, education, and qualifications can help you make sure you’re working with someone who has the necessary expertise to care for your child.
Asking questions about how you can partner on the approach to your child’s care and well-being will not only make you a more confident and prepared parent. It will also ensure that you set your child up for a healthy present and future.