Parents are faced with many big decisions, and finding the right pediatricians to see their children ranks up near the top of the list. This is an important issue not just for new parents, but also for families that have recently relocated. Pediatricians often care for children well into their teenage years, which is why taking the time to make a good decision is so important. A great place to start is to ask friends, family and co-workers for recommendations. Some pediatricians are so well-established that they are unable to fit new patients into their schedules; for this reason, the sooner you can start looking, the better. Once you find the right pediatrician, he or she can become the doctor for all of your children.

What kind of phone support do you provide?

Caring for a child is a stressful ordeal and sometimes a problem arises that needs a simple recommendation rather than a full-blown doctor'??s appointment. Find out if the doctor has a nursing staff that will field questions before recommending you bring your child into the office.

Is there an alternative doctor available when you are ill or on vacation?

As much as you'd like to think a doctor never gets sick or needs a break, they do sometimes need someone to cover their duties for them. Find out who will be stepping in for the doctor when they canâ??t be around.

Do you provide care at the hospital after birth?

Some pediatricians will come to the hospital to do an immediate examination after the birth of the child and some will also perform circumcisions. If these are important points for you, be sure to ask instead of assuming the doctor will provide these services.

Do you have separate waiting areas for sick and well children?

In an effort to keep well patients healthy and sick patients comfortable, many doctor's offices now offer separate waiting areas for sick and healthy patients. This becomes especially important if your child is immunocompromised for any reason. Before settling on a pediatrician, look into the office policy on separating healthy and sick patients. 

How much time can I expect you to spend with me and my child at each visit?

Doctors are busy, but the best ones will make a point to spend as much time as possible with each patient. Ask prospective pediatricians how much time they typically spend with each patient, and look for someone who takes the time to answer all questions and address any concerns rather than rushing out the door to see the next patient. 

Will my child see the same doctor at each visit, or will he see the first available doctor?

Some larger medical offices will schedule patients with the first available physician, unless specifically asked to do otherwise. Check with the front desk to ask what their policy is before you decide on a pediatrician at a larger practice, to be sure your child will see the same doctor at every visit. 

Do you have a pediatrician you recommend?

Always ask for referrals from friends and family when looking for a pediatrician for your little one. Referrals come with a built in reference you can trust, and you're more likely to find the perfect pediatrician through someone you know rather than searching through a list of random names. 

Which hospital are you affiliated with?

Ask which hospital the pediatrician is affiliated with and research the hospital, as well, since that's where your child will need to be seen in the event of an emergency. 

Do you offer same-day appointments for emergencies?

Always ask whether the doctor offers same-day appointments for emergencies or urgent care, and what the availability is. When dealing with little ones, being able to head to the doctor at a moment's notice is crucial. 

Do you see patients after hours for emergencies?

Kids don't operate on a 9 to 5 schedule, and you always need to be prepared for after-hours emergencies. Look for a doctor who's prepared, as well. If the pediatrician isn't available after hours, ask what the procedure is for emergencies and who the on-call physician is.