for partnering with your child's pediatrician
By Jennifer Trachtenberg, M.D.
a mother and practicing pediatrician, I know the value of establishing
and maintaining a good relationship with your child's pediatrician.
This physician relationship is unique. It is the first one your
child will have and it will span many years. The pediatrician will
see your child through many social, emotional and physical developments
as he or she grows into young adulthood. Thus, the relationship
you have with your child's pediatrician should be one of respect
and most importantly, trust. Ensure that your doctor is up-to-date
on the latest medical advances and supports your health choices,
such as protecting your child against serious childhood diseases
are my tips for a successful relationship with your pediatrician.
After all, some moms say that they talk to their pediatricians as
frequently as their husbands in the first years of their child's
Don't wait: start looking early. It is wise to begin looking for
a pediatrician during the second trimester of your pregnancy. More
and more moms today go through a rigorous selection process and
interview several pediatricians before choosing one.
Get recommendations. The best way to find a pediatrician is to ask
your friends, relatives and neighbors. If you are new to your neighborhood,
it is a good idea to ask the local hospital, your obstetrician/gynecologist
or your insurance company. And don't settle! In many ways, your
pediatrician will become one of your most important healthcare advocates,
and the relationship should feel like a partnership. Choose one
that best matches your childcare philosophies, complements your
personality style and offers practical advice.
Before beginning the interview process, determine what your preferences
are for your child's pediatrician. Would you prefer:
" A solo or group practice?
" A new practice or established practice?
" A particular gender?
" What is the physician's hospital affiliation?
" Is the pediatrician a member of your insurance plan?
" How far is the office from your house and/or office?
you know? As children get older, they generally prefer a physician
of the same sex.
Now that you've narrowed down your choices based on the criteria
above, you're ready to meet your child's future doctor. Here are
some questions to help you guide the interview:
What is your philosophy on child rearing?
2. What are your views on breastfeeding?
3. How do you feel about circumcision?
4. What recommendations do you have for forming good sleep habits
in an infant?
5. What literature/classes do you recommend?
6. What is your philosophy on prescribing antibiotics or other medications?
7. What is your view on infant immunizations and combination vaccines?
8. What types of vaccines do you use in your practice?
you know? There are now combination vaccines available that combine
protection against several serious childhood diseases in fewer shots.
should also learn more about the pediatrician's office practices
" Does the office have early morning, evening or weekend hours?
" Is the office staff willing to accommodate your schedule
in making appointments?
" Who returns phone calls about medical issues: the pediatrician,
a nurse, a physician's assistant or the office administrative staff?
" Who will you speak with during an off-hours emergency?
" In a group practice, how often will you see a different physician?
" In a solo practice, who will you see if the pediatrician
is not in the office?
" Are the office staff and nurses friendly, courteous and helpful?
" How long do you have to wait for appointments or callbacks?
You are now ready to select the most important doctor your baby
will have. Be sure to make the most of the time you spend in the
doctor's office during your child's checkups.
THE MOST OF WELL BABY VISITS - THE PREPARATION
" Write down your concerns and bring that list with you to
the visit. Remember, you should never feel embarrassed to ask a
question or state your concerns. You can never ask too many questions
when it comes to your baby's well being. Be an active partner with
your child's doctor.
Arrive early to complete paperwork and be prepared for possible
waits. To make the time go quicker for the baby, bring activities,
and remember to bring snacks and extra diapers!
During the first couple of years, your infant will receive immunizations
during most well visits. Immunizations are one of the best things
you can do for your child, as they help prevent potentially fatal
diseases and protect your little one from needless suffering. So,
set a good example for your child - try to stay calm. Hold and talk
to your child during the immunization. You can also make funny faces
or use a favorite toy to distract your child. And ask your doctor
about vaccine options that are available, including combination
vaccines that can reduce the number of shots. Remember, you have
During a typical well visit, your child's pediatrician should review
the following topics with you:
Diseases immunizations prevent
- Your child's status on the immunization schedule
- Potential side effects
- Options available to reduce the number of shots
- Growth (e.g., your child's height and weight)
- Motor skills (e.g., sitting, walking)
- Language/communication skills (e.g., talking)
- Cognitive skills (e.g., understanding, following directions, counting)
- Social skills (e.g., interaction, reaction to strangers, smiling)
General parenting advice
- Approaches to dietary guidelines
- Proper sleeping habits
- Any other concerns that you might have
should feel that your child's pediatrician takes the time to listen
to you, does not rush you through appointments, acknowledges your
concerns, and offers valuable advice.
may not share the same parenting philosophies for every issue, but
as long as the pediatrician is willing to advise you and respect
your decisions, then you are bound to have a successful partnership.
renowned and board-certified pediatrician, Dr. Jennifer Trachtenberg
has been practicing pediatric and adolescent medicine in New York
City for more than 10 years. Currently, she is a clinical instructor
in pediatrics for Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City and
a fellow member of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Trachtenberg
is active in her role as a pediatrician outside of the office, providing
information to the public on topics such as child development, cold
and flu, food allergies and childhood obesity. She has appeared
on numerous television programs such as NBC's Today in New
York, NY1's News Report and Living it up with Ali &
Jack. Dr. Trachtenberg has been contributing to the parenting
portal of iVillage.com and Parentsoup.com, discussing children's
health topics ranging from fighting a fever, to bed-wetting and
thumb sucking in parent friendly, easy to read articles.