4. Take notes.
During the visit, write down what the pediatrician says. Note any condition that’s diagnosed or any medication prescribed (have him spell them out if you’re not sure); your child’s BMI, weight, and height and how they’re tracking; shots your kid receives; and vitals like blood pressure.
If you do nothing else…Review your notes a couple of weeks after the appointment and make sure you receive the results of all tests done during the checkup. Follow up even if the pediatrician told you to assume that no news is good news, says Dr. Chandra-Puri. Paperwork sometimes falls through the cracks.
5. Don’t be afraid to second-guess.
“Moms are often worried about offending their child’s doctor by questioning something she says,” says Dr. Singhal. “But I always tell parents ‘You are the expert on your child—not me. I may see him for fifteen minutes a few times a year, but you know him better than anyone.’ I’ve had instances when I thought a child was well enough to go home from the hospital and the parent said ‘He still doesn’t look right to me.’ You know when your kid isn’t his usual self, and pointing that out really helps the pediatrician understand the situation and dig in deeper to find out what’s wrong.”
If you do nothing else…Listen to your gut—it’s okay to question, well, everything, from diagnoses to bedtime advice. Voice your reservations about the safety or side effects of medications and the necessity of procedures. And if your doctor is reluctant to run a test you think your child needs, have him explain why until you feel satisfied. Ask, ask, ask, as if it were your job. Because the truth is, it is.
The Thing That Drives Your Doctor Crazy (and Doesn’t Help Your Kid One Bit Either)
When your child’s feeling sick, it’s natural to want answers fast. But when you rush to your laptop and start Googling for clues, it’s easy to get tangled in another kind of web—a mix of vague or inaccurate info. Not that you don’t have plenty of company. “Research shows seventy to eighty percent of people online are looking for health information—and that number is even higher among parents, who also tend to search longer and read more,” says pediatrician Rahul Parikh, M.D. But resist playing house before you even talk to a real-life doc. At the very least, know where to look—sites like healthychildren.org, mayoclinic.org, and kidshealth.org—and use the info to start a conversation with your pediatrician, rather than showing up with 50 pages of printouts and a self-made diagnosis.