5 Questions to ask your child’s pediatrician

It’s hard to think straight when your child is sick. So at your next well-child checkup, take the time to talk to your pediatrician and get answers to a few important questions. Take our cheat sheet with you to your next appointment so you don’t forget anything!


It’s 10 pm. Your daughter’s fever just spiked. Do you call the office? Offer ibuprofen or acetaminophen? Do nothing?

Your son falls and hurts his leg. An hour later, he’s refusing to bear weight. Should you head to the ER? Which area hospital is the best?

Your child’s pediatrician can give you some great information — before you need it — if you know what to ask. And you’ll never remember to ask all your questions when your child is burning with fever or screaming in pain. So take some time to ask your questions when all is well, and write down the answers in a notebook you can save for future reference.

1. How can I ask a quick question during office hours?

Many, many times, your child will have an illness/reaction/rash/issue that you can resolve with a 2-minute phone call. The trick, especially in this world of automated phone systems, is getting through to the nurse. Ask specifically how you can cut through the menus and get an answer.

Don’t be afraid to tell your doctor exactly what you go through when you call the office — many have no clue. Explain that you go through 6 levels of menus just to leave a message — then wait 2 hours for a callback. Can you email a question or call a direct line for faster results? You won’t know unless you ask.

2. When should I call you?

Many parents agonize over calling the pediatrician at night or on the weekends. Ask yours for guidelines on when to call — and what you can expect. Will you get an answering service? Does your doctor sign out to another practice? If you know what’s waiting on the other end of the phone, you’ll have one less thing to worry about when you need to make the call.

3. Which hospital do you recommend for which ailments?

You may live minutes from a world-class children’s hospital. If your toddler has a broken arm one afternoon, that hospital might not be your best bet. They’ll be busy treating more severe injuries and illnesses, and you’ll sit for hours with a child who is hurting — but not critical. Your pediatrician knows which hospitals are best equipped to handle broken bones, sick children, and anything else.

4. Do you have any concerns about my child’s development?

You’d think this is a question that would automatically answered, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes, in the rush of a busy practice, a doctor doesn’t have a chance to take a step back and look at the whole picture. But when you ask a direct question, they’ll take that moment to consider — and perhaps notice a borderline hearing test two years running, or something else that might fly under the radar but should be addressed.

5. What do you wish all parents knew?

This is a great question to ask your pediatrician, because it can get them to cough up a piece of great advice you might never hear otherwise. Those nuggets of wisdom often prove invaluable.

Tell us: What other questions are on your list? Let us know in the comments!

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