When we had our baby, we were told that we could pick a pediatrician or wait until we had her and see if we liked the on-call at the hospital. Because of a shortage of Doctors and not really knowing where to start as we have no other children, we decided to wait until we were at the hospital. You would think that an on-call Pediatrician would be very sweet, kind and experienced. The Pediatrician that we had was definitely experienced but had not a sweet bone in her body. She came into our room rather abruptly, unswaddled the baby who was sleeping, opened her diaper, said "everything looks good," put the baby with her diaper half undone back into a swaddle and instead of handing her to me dropped her on our bed and left the room. We thought maybe she was in a hurry to get to an emergency but she came back the following day and things went pretty much the same except she let us know that unless our baby was critically ill she didn't want to see us again and gave us a letter to the same effect. So we left the hospital with no Pediatrician and a fear of ending up with one like the on-call.
Where to Start
When looking for a Pediatrician ask your family doctor, friends, family or even your Obstetrician for a referral or recommendation well before your baby is born (if at all possible). Many Pediatricians practice in groups and therefore it is important to take a look at the whole team. If your baby has a sudden illness and your doctor is not in you will want to be comfortable with his or her colleagues.
What to Ask the Doctor
Can you get in on a same-day basis if your baby is sick?
Do they have evening and weekend hours?
Which hospital are they connected with?
Is there a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner on staff? (They are trained to spend more time talking to parents about milestones and any issues that arise in the early days.)
What to Ask Yourself
Do you feel comfortable talking with your Pediatrician? (Could you ask him/her anything?)
Is the office a place that you feel comfortable?
How does he or she interact with his or her patients? (You will see how older children react when they see the doctor or how doctor interacts with your baby.)
When to Call Your Pediatrician
Baby has a fever of 100F or 38C or higher.
Has signs of dehydration (no wet diapers or significantly less than usual).
Is unusually lethargic or not as responsive as usual (difficult to wake).
Vomits fluids beyond "normal" spit-up.
Blood in stool or more than eight bouts of diarrhea in eight hours.