Not since you picked your partner has there been a more important decision to make. OK, maybe we're exaggerating—a little. But you will be seeing a lot of your baby's pediatrician. We're talking at least eight routine office visits in two years. Add earaches and fevers into the mix, and it might seem like you see your doc more than your hubby. Sadly, there's no Match.com for picking a pediatrician. Instead, start here:
Let the Hunt Begin
First rule: Start while you're expecting. Once baby's here, there'll be no time to conduct a proper search. Like old-fashioned dating, we suggest you ask your BFFs to hook you up—especially those who parent the way you want to. It may sound obvious, but also ask your ob-gyn for recommendations. Chances are she's a parent too! And if you like your doc, you just might like her doc, too.
The Right Fit
Some moms suggest you read up on each doc's medical background, like where they went to school and interned. Once you narrow your list, call each office and make sure it's accepting new patients and it honors your insurance. Then set up appointments with your top prospects. Before your first “date,” consider what kind of mama you're going to be. Are you the type to take people at face value or do you Google, well, everything? It makes a difference when dealing with a doctor. Some are used to dispensing information strictly by the book—and a just-the-facts approach may be exactly what you're looking for. On the flip side, you may need a doctor who's open to discussing the information you found online or perhaps trying alternative treatments with an open mind. Use your initial meeting to ask about policies on things such as co-sleeping, breastfeeding and delaying or following an alternate immunization schedule. If necessary, let potential candidates know upfront that your viewpoints may go against the grain and gauge their reaction. All things being equal, go with your gut. (Call it your first lesson in listening to your maternal instinct.)
Hands-Down, The No. 1 Most Important Thing to Consider, Period
You need to be comfortable with the doctor's philosophies and policies. You'll want to feel that you can ask him anything and your concerns will be handled with respect and compassion. After all, your pediatrician will play a huge role in your family's new life. Remember: If things just aren't working out, it's easy to break up—relatively mess-free!