Tips for Choosing a Pediatrician for Your Baby

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Medically Reviewed By:
Mark Arredondo, M.D.

Expectant parents are typically filled with excitement as they prepare to welcome their newborn into the world.

Amid this excitement, a pivotal decision looms large: choosing the perfect pediatrician for your baby.

This choice will shape your child's health care journey, so here are some expert tips and pediatrician interview questions to aid you in selecting the right pediatrician doctor.

What is a pediatrician?

A pediatrician, as defined by the Cleveland Clinic, is a doctor who specializes in the health and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. Their care begins at birth and continues through a child's 21st birthday, or even longer if necessary. Pediatricians play a crucial role in preventing, detecting and managing many physical, behavioral and developmental issues that affect children.

You might wonder about the difference between pediatricians and family practice doctors.

“A board-certified pediatrician has spent three years of residency training exclusively working with and learning about children's health care and passed an examination covering these topics from birth, through adolescence and into early adulthood," noted Dr. Kelly Henchel, medical director of Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla.

“A board-certified family practice doctor has spent the same three years learning about health care in all people from birth through adulthood, aging and end-of-life care, and has passed an examination covering all of these topics. Both groups can provide primary care for children,” she added.

Further, “In the first year of life, infants will see their pediatrician for at least seven well-care visits," Henchel noted. "From the first birthday until 3 years, they will be seen an additional six times for well-care and then yearly following that.”

How to choose a pediatrician for your child

“Pediatricians care only for children, which allows the entire practice to be tailored to fit the needs of the parents and children,” Henchel noted. “Pediatricians focus on all of the factors that allow children to develop into the best version of themselves, including safety, nutrition, developmentally appropriate anticipatory guidance, immunizations, screening tests and growth.”

It is natural, however, for parents to want to find the best pediatrician for their child.

Tips to finding the best pediatrician for your child and their needs

Choosing the right pediatrician for your child is a significant decision, and the Cleveland Clinic offers valuable guidance on how to go about it effectively. Here are some essential steps to help you find the best pediatrician for your child's needs:

Step 1: Ask people you trust

Start by seeking recommendations from friends, family members or coworkers who have children and whose opinions you respect. Your obstetrician may also provide valuable recommendations based on their knowledge and expertise if you're expecting.

Step 2: Scan the pediatrician's website

Use the internet to gather basic information about pediatricians in your area. Many pediatricians have their own practice websites or are listed on health system websites. Here, you can discover crucial details such as:

  • The doctor's medical background and training

  • Years of experience

  • Office hours and location

  • Languages spoken

  • Collaborations with other health care providers

Step 3: Meet the pediatricians you're considering

Narrow down your choices to two or three pediatricians and arrange meetings with each one. Most pediatricians offer virtual or in-person interviews at little or no cost. During these meetings, ask questions about:

  • Office location and accessibility

  • Availability of after-hours care

  • The presence of other providers at the office

  • Alignment with your child's specific health care needs

  • How they address topics important to your family

  • Hospital affiliations

  • Accepted insurance plans

  • Board certifications

By following these steps, you can make a well-informed decision when selecting a pediatrician who will provide the best care for your child's health and well-being.

Questions to ask when choosing a pediatrician doctor

Henchel suggests, “Parents should ask if vaccines are given in the practice so that they do not need to arrange separate visits for them. They should ask about the hours and days the practice is open and the after-hours options for advice or triaging of a sick child.

"They also may like to know if there are any learners [medical students or pediatric residents] involved in the practice as these visits can be more time-consuming, but also help ensure the pediatricians are up to date in their care recommendations as they are helping to train the next generation of providers," she said.

Follow your gut when selecting the best pediatrician for your child

In the United States, there are approximately 33,430 pediatricians, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It's important to recognize that not all pediatricians are the same.

By asking pertinent questions, ensuring alignment with your values and trusting your instincts, you can help ensure that your child is in capable and compassionate hands.


Kelly Henchel, MD, medical director, Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital, St. Petersburg, Fla.

Cleveland Clinic: Pediatrician

Cleveland Clinic: How to Pick the Best Pediatrician for Your Child

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2022, 29-1221 Pediatricians, General

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