Wondering when and how to find the perfect doctor for your baby? Below is some expect advice from parenting expert Tanya Remer Altmann. Altmann is an MD, a Fellow at the American Academy of Pediatrics, an Assistant Clinical Professor at Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA, and a mom of three.


Your choices may be limited by you insurance provider, but Atlmann says, "It makes more sense to focus on finding a doctor you connect with." You may change jobs, requiring you to switch insurance, or your job may switch insurance companies, but your child will require quality, consistent care until the age or 18 or even 21.

When to Start the Search for a Pediatrician

The last trimester is a good time to begin your search for your baby’s pediatrician, says Altmann. Babies are known to come early, so you want to be prepared—especially if you want your pediatrician to go to the hospital when your baby is born. “Some hospitals have their own pediatricians, and some doctors don’t do hospital visits,” she explains. If having your pediatrician see your newborn at the hospital is important to you, you’ll need to coordinate this ahead of time.

Where and How to Start Looking for a Pediatrician

Start with your friends and family. Getting word-of-mouth recommendations from those who may share the same parenting philosophy is a good place to start. If you are among the first of your friends to have a baby, or have recently relocated and don’t have a support network yet, ask your obstetrician or family physician for some recommendations.

Once you have some names, start searching docs online. Even a review site like Yelp! may help you hone in on specifics. The Find a Pediatrician tool from The American Academy of Pediatrics can you help you locate board-certified pediatricians. “When looking online at credentials, board-certified is important, you want someone who has passed the comprehensive exam. Beyond that, you don't need to stress about where the doctor earned her degree,” says Altmann. “It’s more about your connection to her than whether or not she graduated from an Ivy League school. You want to feel comfortable asking them questions and helping you raise a happy, healthy child.” And for that, you need to meet the doctor in person.

What to Look for in a Pediatrician’s Office

You may want to call the office and ask a few questions before you visit. Here are a few ideas about what to ask and what to look for:

  1. Is there a separate newborn room for well visits, away from children who may be sick (and contagious)? Is the office staff easy to talk to? You may love the doctor, but if the office staff is rude or unhelpful, it can make for a terrible experience.
  2. Ask about office scheduling. How long do visits take? You want to know the flow of the office. Is it a group practice, with other doctors covering for yours at times?
  3. What are the office hours? Are there after-hours appointments available? What about weekend visits? When does the pediatrician schedule well-child visits. If you plan to go back to work, can well-child appointments be made in those times so you don't have to take off?
  4. What about after hours and overnight? “Children are often sick when office is closed,” says Altmann. How long before you can call back from the doctor? Is there anyone else who can help? Is there a nurse available? Can you email the doctor with your questions, and receive a timely response?
  5. If you are choosing a provider who doesn’t have a contracted price with your insurance company, what are the payment policies?

What to Look for in a Potential Pediatrician

Picking a pediatrician is different than picking another doctor (an OB/GYN, for example). You want to make sure that they can speak to you as an adult and they can speak to your child at any age—from toddlerhood to the teen years.

“You want to feel as if the doctor will be a partner in your child’s health,” says Altmann. To ensure you share similar philosophies, ask about issues important to you, such as breastfeeding, circumcision, or antibiotics. Are you interested in an office that has lactation and breast-feeding support? Ask about it.

Also, ask what happens if your child needs to see a specialist. Does the pediatrician coordinate care among all doctors providing treatment for your child?

Altmann says to keep in mind that no one-size-fits-all. Go with the physician you feel best fits your family and your family’s lifestyle. And it you’re not happy with the decision, you can always change doctors.

Tanya Remer Altmann, MD, FAAP, reviewed this article.


Tanya Remer Altmann, MD, FAAP. Phone interview with expert, October 13, 2015.

“How to Choose a Pediatrician.” American Academy of Pediatrics website. Page last updated August 20, 2015.