When to Start Looking for a Pediatrician

Wondering when it’s a good time to start looking for a pediatrician? Learn why sooner is better than later and what to look for.

Is It Time to Start Looking for a Pediatrician?

Congratulations! You’re going to be a parent soon. By now, you’ve probably read a lot about what to expect during pregnancy and received all kinds of advice from friends and family, perhaps even strangers! Beyond all of the things you should be doing to care for yourself, you may have wondered when to start looking for a pediatrician.

Believe it or not, finding an Austin pediatrician should be on your short list. Experts say that the best time to start looking for a pediatrician is about three months before your baby is due. It may sound early, but choosing a pediatrician takes a little time if you do it right, and you’ll want to have time to meet with your selected pediatrician before the baby arrives.

Why Finding a Pediatrician Before Baby Is Born Is Important

Whoever you choose will want to know more about you, when you’re due, what kind of a delivery you expect to have, and any pregnancy issues they should be aware of. Your baby’s pediatrician will meet your newborn within a few days of his or her birth, running through a standard checkup protocol to assess your baby’s health. 

From there, you will get to know your pediatrician quite well over the years, as your provider will perform regular well-checks throughout your child’s adolescence. By the time your child is five, they will have had at least 14 well-checks and numerous other appointments with their pediatrician to diagnose and treat illnesses and injuries, as well as follow-up visits.

You will develop a long-term relationship with your pediatrician, making the selection process critical. Of course, you can always change pediatricians if necessary for whatever reason, but your goal when you start looking for a pediatrician is to find one you can stick with for the duration of your child’s adolescence. They will get to know your child through every stage and be there when your child is sick or injured. As the months and years tick by, they will have an intimate understanding of the history of your child’s health and wellbeing.

What to Consider When Looking for a Pediatrician

When you begin looking for a pediatrician, there are several things to consider. The first place to start is with research. In this Amazon/Yelp culture, we are all accustomed to looking at ratings and reading reviews. As a new parent, you likely know other parents who are a bit further down the road than you. Talk with them about their experience with their pediatrician, compare findings, and look up the providers online. 

You can go to sites that provide pediatrician ratings and reviews, as well as the individual pediatrician websites where you can learn about their services, costs and fees, location and hours, staffing, and insurance policies. Many pediatricians will have a “New Parent” page that will outline this information, as well as answer common parent questions. Write down any questions you have that aren’t answered on the website, plus any questions or concerns that come up after doing your research.

Keep in mind, not all pediatricians accept new patients or will be conveniently located by you. While friend suggestions are a helpful starting point, you will ultimately make your decision based on what is best for you and your baby.

Even if you find a pediatrician that seems perfect for your family, location matters. You will be traveling to and from their office more times than you may imagine, and available appointment times may be during morning or afternoon rush hour. A “quick” visit to the pediatrician can easily turn into several hours from the time you leave your house with your baby to the time you return home. 

Related: The Definitive Guide to Austin Pediatrics

Concierge Pediatricians Offer Convenience, Flexibility, and High Quality of Care

For many new parents, logistics and convenience are major factors, inspiring them to choose a concierge pediatrician instead of an in-office provider. Concierge pediatricians come directly to you, eliminating the need for traveling to and from a doctor’s office. That means, even if you move to another part of town or your schedule changes, you won’t have to worry about commuting back and forth to the pediatrician’s office.

Concierge pediatricians have the same education and training as in-office pediatricians, but they have chosen a different operating model, one that is often more personal and with fewer limitations. Many types of doctors are transitioning to this in-home model and Austin pediatrics is no different.

Concierge pediatricians are able to conduct the same health evaluations, administer the same vaccines on schedule, order the same labs and prescriptions, and keep the same records of your child’s health. Many will also file with your health insurance provider, but that is a question you need to ask if you want to use your health benefits. 

What concierge pediatricians can do that in-office providers can’t is visit with your child in the comfort and convenience of your home. They are also able to spend more time with your child than most in-office pediatricians. One of the primary reasons pediatricians opt for the concierge model is so they can spend as much time with each patient as necessary, focusing on quality versus quantity. With fewer overhead costs and an office to maintain, they are less pressured to see as many patients per day as possible to make ends meet.

Meeting with Your Chosen Pediatrician Before Baby Is Born

Whichever route you choose, whether it be a pediatrician’s office or a concierge pediatrician, you will want to narrow down your list to around two to three and meet with each one before your child is born. Most providers will set aside specific times to meet with expectant parents. Since you will have already visited their website and even talked with someone on staff, you will have many of the office details in hand. 

The time spent with the pediatrician is an opportunity to experience their personality and bedside manner, ask them specific questions about their background, experience, and listen to their perspective on things that are important to you. Another good question is to ask them the average time it takes to get an appointment (same-day, next day, after hours, etc.), the average waiting room time, and how frequently you can expect your child to see them versus a nurse or other provider. 

Of course, no pediatrician can be available at a moment’s notice to all patients, but some have put measures in place to ensure their patients have greater access to a provider. Be sure to ask whether the pediatrician provides telemedicine appointments, their hours of availability, their response times in returning calls, and whether they offer 24/7 virtual care.

Related: Keep Your Children Safe: Why 24/7 Pediatrics Is Crucial

You may also want to see if they provide any free classes for new parents, such as how to prepare for your baby, breastfeeding, newborn care, infant CPR, and how to get your baby on a schedule. These classes can prove to be invaluable to new parents, and you can get peace of mind when you know they are taught by a licensed medical professional.

The answers to these questions will give you plenty by which to compare pediatricians side by side. Once you make your final selection, you will then need to call to inform them that you would like your baby to be a new patient, the expected due date, and where you plan to deliver. They will ask you for information to get your unborn baby set up in their system. You may not need to contact them again until your baby is born, and your OB or hospital will often make the call for you.

As you can see, finding an Austin pediatrician takes time. Set aside a few months before your expected due date to research and meet with several providers. When your baby arrives, you’ll have one less thing on your plate.

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