As you did when choosing an ob/gyn, you want to find a pediatrician who is top-notch medically. Here are three questions you can ask to gauge a physician's perspective on some common pediatric concerns:
1. What is the best way to treat infant eczema?
A better first approach to using steroids or prescription drugs is often to reduce exposure to eczema triggers (such as soap, bubble baths and synthetic fibres like nylon or polyester), or to gently moisturize the skin with an emollient cream or lotion. Well-informed physicians are more likely to treat the cause rather than just the symptoms and will opt for the gentlest treatment possible.
2. What advice do you give to parents about introducing solid foods?
Specifically ask for the pediatrician's advice about introducing whole grains, fresh tastes, or organic foods. Your pediatrician should be conscious of nutrition and care about establishing the healthiest possible eating habits for your child.
3. How do you recommend treating ear infections?
If they say that all ear infections should be treated with antibiotics, they may be behind the times. The Academy of Pediatrics now teaches that, in many situations, ear infections will heal better on their own, thus reducing the unnecessary use of antibiotics. (But pain relief should be given for the ear pain.)
And, from the comfort of your home, you can learn a lot about some physicians and their practices by looking at their websites–many pediatricians have them now–and by talking to other parents.
Dr. Alan Greene, author of Raising Baby Green, is a graduate of Princeton University and the University of California San Francisco. In addition to being the founder of www.DrGreene.com, he is the Chief Medical Officer of A.D.A.M., and the Pediatric Expert for WebMD. He is the Chair Elect of The Organic Center and on the Advisory Board of Healthy Child Healthy World. Dr. Greene is a practicing pediatrician at Stanford University's Packard Children's Hospital.