It's smart to scope out the pediatrician scene while you're still pregnant. "It's important to have a pediatrician you've already met and respect, because you have enough going on after the baby is born without having to worry about finding a doctor," says Evaline Alessandrini, MD, a pediatrician at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
The benefits of committing to a pediatrician early aren't just for parents. Dr. Alessandrini's recent study, which she co-authored, found that babies who see the same doctor for their first six months are up to twice as likely to receive important health tests before they turn 2. "You don't want to have to reinvent the wheel every time, like going over whether the immunizations are up to date," she says. "If you have a continuing relationship with a doctor, you have the time and comfort to go deeper."
The best time to start looking for a pediatrician is between 28 and 34 weeks into your pregnancy, when you likely know what you want and have at least a few weeks to do your homework. The process may seem daunting, but realize you're not trying to find the Best Pediatrician in the World -- you're looking for the best one for your child and a personal connection for you.