Choosing a pediatrician can be a very difficult task if you don’t know what you’re doing. When looking for the right pediatrician for your children it’s important to remember that this is someone who you will be partnering with to ensure your children grow up healthy. This needs to be someone who you trust, and someone who respects your beliefs (whether or not he agrees with them.)
So often I hear of people who are unhappy with their child’s pediatrician. In fact, I was one of those people. If the pediatrician you choose is not to your liking, then it’s important to be proactive and find someone who is right for you. I switched pediatric offices when my little one was six months old, and my oldest was 2 ½. It wasn’t one particular thing that made me switch—it was a number of things that were building upon each other. It was the best thing I ever did.
If you are looking for a physician who will take a more natural approach to your child’s health, then my first recommendation is to visit the website for the American Association of Naturopathic Doctors. The website has a physician finder section allowing you to search by specialty, location or a doctor’s name. Among those who practice pediatrics, there are more than 200 listed, with offices in 28 states and the District of Columbia.
Since there may not be a naturopathic pediatrician in close proximity to where you live, it’s important to look for a pediatrician who is close (enough) by and shares your values. When interviewing physicians, you should have a list of questions someone choosing a more “natural” approach to parenting may want to know. Some of the questions I recommend are:
1. What is your approach to vaccination? If parents choose not to vaccinate their children, how do you handle that? (If you are choosing to vaccinate your children, then ask the doctor if they are open to spreading out vaccines, so your child is not receiving as many vaccines at once—this way if there is a negative reaction, you can determine which vaccine caused it).
2. Do you have separate waiting areas for sick and well visits?
3. Do you have same-day appointments for sick children?
4. What is your approach to introducing foods? How long do you believe babies should be breastfed?
5. What is your experience with vitamins, homeopathic medicines, herbs and other non-western approaches?
6. Do you consider yourself accepting of parents who choose a more natural approach to parenting?
In addition, if your chosen pediatrician is a sole-practitioner, you will want to find out who the doctor is that covers for him. You may even want to meet that person, just in case your child is ever sick while your own pediatrician is away, you will want to make sure this person is not overly quick to medicate. Also, if your doctor is a member of a group practice, you will also want to meet the other members of the practice to find out if their philosophies are in line with yours.
The most important thing you can do when choosing a pediatrician is to listen to your gut feeling. If something doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t. Don’t ignore your instincts. They are usually right. And, if you find a pediatrician is not right for your family, don’t be afraid to switch doctors. In the end, you’ll be glad you did.