How to Select a Pediatrician

See the Doctor in Action

From setting up the prenatal visit, you can evaluate how the office works -- for one thing, its all-important phone system. Having an occasional long hold is fine -- emergencies do happen -- but two mind-numbing delays in a row is likely a bad sign.

In the waiting room, chat up other parents, asking what they like and dislike about the practice. Also check out the area. Are there books, toys, or a TV to distract children? Even at a good office, you may have to wait on busy days -- will you want to sit here?

Once you've chosen a pediatrician, the true test is how she performs in real situations -- say, if there's a hive outbreak over a holiday weekend or if your baby has the dreaded colic. Samantha Smeraglia and her husband, of San Diego, found that their pediatrician went above and beyond when their 6-month-old daughter was diagnosed with a potentially serious genetic condition. "Our doctor turned up at our first specialist appointment to see how we were doing," Smeraglia says. "We were grateful for her concern."

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