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Christina's Baby Journey: Choosing the perfect pediatrician

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(WEAR) - Dr. Brian Sontag is a seasoned Pensacola obstetrician. He, of course, fields many, many questions from his expectant patients - especially from first time moms.

One of their most common inquiry is, "when do I need to find a pediatrician?"

"I usually tell people around the 30-week time frame. It's two and a half, three months to go in in the pregnancy. Start looking. Start talking about it," he suggested.

Next question: how does one go about the process? Sontag is a father of three children. He understands the anxiety surrounding finding the proper pediatrician for a family.

He says check with your insurance to make your prospective pediatricians are available in your network.

After clearing that hurdle, you should set up an interview. Sontag suggests meeting with them before baby arrives.

"You don't have to, but the best part of doing that though, is the fact you can go and interview or sit down and talk and get to know, and see if that person is gonna mix with you in the long run," he explained.

Sontag said parents should make sure your parenting philosophies are in line on important topics. "Such as, whether or not you're gonna breast feed or bottle feed," he advised.

Another major concern is vaccination schedules. Some families want to space vaccines out over appointments instead of getting multiple ones at a single visit. Some families forgo vaccines altogether.

"Some pediatricians are willing to work with you on the shots that are gonna be done over the first year of life. Some are gonna be done over the first year of life. Some are gonna be pretty resistant to change," he said.

Sontag said during your visits, pay close attention to the office waiting rooms. "Make sure there's a sick child and a well child area that's separated for when you go in with your child," he expanded.

Other tips:

  • Make sure their hours work for your schedule. Some practices offer night or even weekend appointments for working parents.
  • Ask which hospital they're affiliated with, and find out if they will visit your newborn there after delivery.
  • Ask if they perform circumcisions, and how they feel about topics such as co-sleeping, alternative medicine, and attachment parenting if those are options you're interested in exploring.

Sontag said selecting the right doctor for your baby depends on your parenting style and approach.

He urges parents-to-be to ask a lot of questions and keep interviewing until they find the proper fit. After all, it's a critical job they're applying for, and one that lasts eighteen years.

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