Choosing Your Baby’s Doctor

Babies and children are not just small adults – their healthcare needs are different. It is important to find a healthcare provider who can give the care your baby needs. You should see a healthcare provider when your baby is well and not just when he or she is sick.

Your baby’s primary care provider may be a pediatrician, a family practice doctor or a pediatric nurse practitioner.

A pediatrician is a doctor who has been trained in the care of babies, children and teens.  A family practice doctor has been trained to care for people of all ages, from birth to old age.  A pediatric nurse practitioner usually works with a doctor and has been trained to take care of babies and children.

All of these providers can care for your child. They will provide:

  • Well-child care, including immunizations (shots)
  • Information on growth and development, feeding and discipline issues
  • Care for illnesses and injuries

Many providers work together in a group practice with:

  • Other primary care providers
  • Nurse practitioners (nurses with additional training in adult or pediatric care)  
  • Office nurses or medical assistants
  • Laboratory technicians
  • Staff who handle the scheduling and billing

Choosing a doctor is an important part of preparing for a new baby.  You need to begin as soon as possible. Your first step should be to check with your insurance company to see who in your area accepts the insurance.

You can ask your obstetrician for names, and talk with other parents about their baby’s doctor. Many doctors will offer a special time for parents to come and visit the office, learn about the physicians and staff, and ask questions. There may or may not be a charge for this visit.

Below are some things to think about when searching for a doctor.

  • Is the office near your home or place of work?
  • How long does it take to get there during rush hour?
  • Is parking convenient or is the office on a bus route?
  • Does the practice have more than one office?
  • Are the same doctors at the same offices all the time?
  • What are the office hours?
  • Are there weekend or evening hours?
  • How do you make an appointment?
  • How long does it take to get a well-child appointment?
  • Will your child see the same doctor for all visits?
  • What about payments and billing?
  • Does the doctor accept your insurance?
  • What hospital does the doctor use?  Is this hospital covered under your insurance?
  • How long do you have to wait in the office before you are seen?
  • Is there a separate waiting area for sick children?
  • Does the office staff seem friendly and interested in children?
  • What are the doctor’s training and experience? Does he or she have a specialty or area of interest? What happens if your child gets sick at night or on weekends? Whom do you call?

You will learn whether you agree with the doctor’s ideas about child raising as you talk with him or her. You can also talk with other parents to find out about their experiences and recommendations.

Last Updated 04/2015