Choosing the right doctor for your child is one of the most important things you can do for him, for yourself, and for your family. Before making a decision, be sure to ask friends for recommendations and call the practice to schedule a new-patient consult appointment. Regardless of how a physician answers the following questions, remember to heed your instincts as a parent and use the appointment to get a feel for how well she fits with your child, your family, and your beliefs about medicine and prevention.

1. How many years have you been in practice?

2. What are your specialties?

3. What ages of children do you treat? All the way through high school? Younger?

4. What are your days off? Who sees patients on those days?

5. What obstetricians do you work with? A good question if the doctor works in an office with family practice physicians who also practice obstetrics. It can be helpful to streamline pregnancy, childbirth, and pediatric care.

6. Do you only perform well-child checkups on certain days or at certain times? Many practices have strict rules about when regular checkups can be scheduled. Make sure you understand your doctor's policy.

7. As a pediatrician, what are your biggest concerns about children's health? It's a general question, but certain health concerns like obesity, type-2 diabetes, and child accidents can affect the kinds of questions, cautions, and treatment physicians give all of their patients.

8. What kind of experience do you have referring children with speech delays, fine or gross motor delays, sensory-processing concerns, and cognitive delays to other professionals? Some doctors are more knowledgeable than others in these areas.

9. What is the best way to contact you if I have a non-emergency question?

10. Do you have children of your own? If so, how has this experience helped or hindered your practice in medicine?

11. At what hospitals in the area do you have privileges?

12. What are your opinions on natural health and healing?

13. What kind of parent education resources does your office/practice have for families?

14. Do you have extensive experience with patients that have special needs or severe injuries?

15. What kind of help and support can you offer parents of children with behavioral problems?

16. What are your thoughts on the nation's healthcare reform? How do you see it changing your practice?

Resources for seeking information about specific areas of childhood health: