You’ll need to choose a pediatrician before you have your baby, because he or she will come to the hospital within the first 24 hours to examine your infant after he’s born. Many families will stay with their pediatrician through the baby and early childhood years when frequent well-child check-ups and immunizations mean regular visits. Lea Ann Lund, M.D., of Tennessee Pediatrics in Hendersonville, suggests your child stay with his pediatrician until the age of 18, if possible.   

“Some practices carry patients through age 21 or through college, but this is not typical,” Lund says.

In choosing a pediatrician, one the best indicators for the “right” choice is you:

USE YOUR INSTINCTS

There’s a gut-level judgment to be made when selecting a pediatrician. At your first meeting, if the doctor is condescending to you, or if you are given an “I’m-too-busy-to-answer-your-questions” feeling, it’s time to move on.

MAXIMIZE AVAILABILITY

If your instincts are satisfied, find out what hours your potential pediatrician offers. If you keep late work hours, perhaps weekend hours would be helpful. How close is the doctor? Look into how the doctor handles after-hour emergencies. And, if you call about a concern for your child, will he answer?

FINAL CUT

Whittle your pediatrician choices down to recommendations from friends, relatives and co-workers. Then, if you find a doctor you like, be sure to speak with someone else who uses him. Next, meet the staff. Do they make an effort to provide a positive experience for you? Do you like the environment? Do they have time for you or are they hurrying you along? Finally, remember that your final choice of pediatrician is not irrevocable. If at any time you become dissatisfied, you can always start looking for another Dr. Right.