Get the Most from Pediatrician Visits
A helpful quiz to prep you for the new doc in your life. Hint: Some Q's have more than one correct answer!
1. The best time to have an appointment is: A. First thing in the morning. B. The last slot of the day. C. Right after the office staff gets back from lunch.
A and C. "Early morning and after-lunch slots are least likely to have a long wait," says Laura Jana, M.D., a pediatrician and coauthor of Heading Home With Your Newborn. The later your appointment in the morning or afternoon, the more likely it is that the doctor will have gotten backed up, especially with the rush of older kids (and all their germs) after school lets out. You?ll also want to avoid scheduling during naptime whenever possible. Crankypants alert!
2. At well-baby visits during the first year, you should expect your doctor to: A. Track your child's growth and developmental markers, do a thorough physical exam, and administer immunizations. B. Discuss your child's nap and nighttime sleeping schedule as well as his eating habits. C. Allow time to talk about any behavioral issues you've noticed or have questions about.
A, B, and C. "I like to start each visit by asking parents if they have questions," says Alanna Levine, M.D., a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics. "I also go over changes parents may need to make. For instance, if their baby is rolling over, I remind them it's time to lower the crib mattress."
3. To prepare yourself before the appointment, you should: A. Call the office to see if the doctor happens to be running late. B. Load up your diaper bag with a bottle and a stash of small toys. C. Inform the office administrator of any changes to your insurance or contact information.
A, B, and C. "It's a good idea to call to see if the doctor is running on time," says Dr. Levine. Emergencies can arise, so you may end up waiting, and you'll want to keep your tot occupied with your own bag of tricks. Update the staff on key info in advance so that's one less thing to deal with.
4. Never visit your doctor's office without making sure you have: A. Your child's vaccination records. B. A list of your questions. C. A list of symptoms (runny nose? weird rash?) your tot may
A, B, and C. "I'm a big believer in parents writing down their questions and kid's symptoms before they arrive, because they're so easy to forget during the appointment," Dr. Jana says. Noted! It's also important for you to keep track of your child's health history and document any reactions to vaccines or medications. Throughout your little one's childhood, many doctors will ask for these detailed records.
5. If you hate to see your little one get a shot, make it easier for you both by: A. Giving him something to suck on. B. Standing back so the doctor has elbow room. C. Dosing Baby with a children's pain reliever ahead of time.
A. It's hard to get around the discomfort of shots, but studies suggest that babies cry less and exhibit fewer signs of pain when they suck on a pacifier, especially one dipped in sugar water, for the big pinch. If it's okay with the doctor, hold and comfort your baby during the injection too. Most M.D.'s don't recommend using topical numbing solutions or preventative pain medications. "You should only give acetaminophen if a fever occurs after the shot," Dr. Jana says.
6. If a doc dismisses your concerns, you should: A. Switch doctors immediately. B. Ask her to discuss the issue with you in more depth. C. Research the topic online and follow the advice you find.
B. As in parenting, there isn't always one right answer when it comes to medicine. So if a doctor recommends something that makes you uneasy, politely ask her to explain her reasoning. If you have an article from a magazine or a reliable website that's relevant to the topic, bring it in to discuss. If, however, your pediatrician consistently refuses to consider you a partner in your child's health care, it may be time to start seeing a doc whose style you prefer or who can better explain the rationale behind her suggestions.
7. The fastest way to get a reputation as Annoying Mom at the office is to: A. Ask tons of questions during all your appointments. B. Page the doc after hours to discuss issues you could have raised earlier in the day. C. Bring your baby into the practice at the slightest sneeze.
B. "It doesn't bother me when parents bring their children in frequently," Dr. Levine says. If the situation is urgent, most docs won't mind if you disturb them (even at 3 A.M.). But if you're worried about, say, a cough that's been lingering for days, rather than page the doc, wait until office hours. Don't hesitate to call after hours if you have a truly pressing need -- for example, if your baby is absolutely inconsolable or has a fever that just won't let up.
Originally published in American Baby magazine in 2011. Updated in 2014.
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