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Choosing a provider for your child

Okay, mom-to-be, you have a healthcare provider to look after you. But what about your soon-to-be newborn?

Every baby should see a provider for wellness checkups and to take care of any illnesses that might develop. So if you haven't picked your baby's provider yet, now is a good time to do so. The following tips and information can help you get started:

Types of providers

One of the first steps is to decide which type of provider you'll choose. There are many types of experts who care for babies and other children:

Pediatricians are doctors with special training in taking care of children, from newborns to teens and even young adults.

Family doctors care for people of all ages, including babies. You might already have a family doctor you see for all of your routine healthcare needs.

Nurse practitioners. Some pediatric or family nurse practitioners also take care of babies.

How to find the one for you

To find a provider, you might ask other parents whom they'd recommend. If they suggest someone, find out why they like that person.

You can also ask your health insurance plan for a list of providers that accept your insurance. Your insurance plan's website may have information about the providers' medical training. Check to make sure they're accepting new patients too.

Get to know them better

It's a good idea to see if you can meet with a few providers to ask them some questions. Most will let you interview them by phone or in person. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and other experts say you might want to ask questions like these:

  • When will you see my baby for the first time? How often will baby have checkups?
  • Will you or a nurse be available to answer questions about my baby's health by phone or by email?
  • How does your office handle questions or concerns at nighttime and on weekends?
  • Who else in the office can see my baby when you are not available?

As you talk with the provider, ask yourself if you feel comfortable talking with him or her and if you like the provider's communication style.

Baby's early checkups

You and your baby's new provider will spend a good deal of time together at first. In fact, your baby's first checkup will take place soon after he or she is born. After that, your baby's provider will want to see your little one often in the first year. This is the typical time frame for checkups:

  • 1 month.
  • 2 months.
  • 4 months.
  • 6 months.
  • 9 months.
  • 12 months.

At each visit, the provider will examine your baby. He or she will also check on your little one's growth and development—from those first precious smiles to the first time your baby rolls over.

What about vaccinations?

Babies also need a lot of shots to help them stay healthy, which your provider's office will administer. These include vaccines that protect against serious diseases, like:

  • Hepatitis B.
  • Polio.
  • Chickenpox.
  • Pneumococcal disease.
  • Rotavirus.
  • Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis.
  • Measles, mumps and rubella.

Checkups aren't just good for baby

Your baby's well-child visits are also a good time to ask their provider questions. You can ask about your baby's health or about being a new parent. You might want to jot down your questions in advance.

More pregnancy news

On top of finding a provider for your baby, you may also need to find someone to take care of your baby once you go back to work. For help making that decision, check out our child care tips.

Additional sources: American Academy of Pediatrics; Office on Women's Health

Reviewed 2/1/2022

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