7 Questions Pediatricians Ask That Make Moms Feel Guilty

Ad failed to load

When my partner and I were deciding on a pediatrician for our kids, we picked the one that most parents in our new neighborhood used and was close to our apartment. We didn’t vet the doctors with a barrage of questions, and that probably has to do with where we live: in New York City, we have a lot of options (who would take our health insurance, at the time). But I didn’t think about questions the pediatrician would ask me, as the new mom. Some of the questions were simple (“Are there pets in the home? Does anyone smoke in the house?”), but others kind of made me feel guilty, either because I didn’t know the answers, didn't completely feel comfortable in my new role as a mother, or because I didn’t know the correct answers, which really went against the grain of my Type A personality.

I was not a very anxious new mom, but my confidence in my parenting abilities was pretty low. I had never been somebody’s mother before and there were so many ways I could mess up. So in the examining room, with a 3-day-old child in my arms, I felt so vulnerable as the pediatrician went through her list of questions at our first visit. Her bedside manner was wonderful, but I couldn’t help but feel nervous that my responses would fall short of what a “proper” mom would say.

Now that my kids are older, I can anticipate the questions their doctor will probably ask, and I’m truthful, but less susceptible to feeling guilty. Not only has my self-confidence grown a bit in the decade since first becoming a mother, but I realize that pediatricians are not interested in judging parents. Truly, they only want to help us raise healthy children.

Ad failed to load

Thinking back on my “newer mom” self, though, here are some questions our pediatrician asked that made me feel guilty:

Ad failed to load

“When Was The Last Time She Ate?”


This question regarding my newborn at her first pediatrician appointment requires me to have full function of my short-term memory. That is damn-near impossible, as I had not slept or really processed this whole “new mom” thing yet. Luckily, I saw this one coming when I had my second kid, so I didn’t have to deal with the guilt of not remembering my child’s recent meal history.

“Did You Notice His Yellow Skin At The Hospital?”

Apparently my second baby had a hint of jaundice, which our pediatrician detected at our first visit to the office. The doctor who checked him at the hospital mentioned nothing about it. I felt terrible that I couldn’t tell that my kid’s skin had a yellowish tinge. I thought it was just the terrible fluorescent lighting in the examination room.

“Are You Breastfeeding?”


This is a loaded question. Not everyone who wants to breastfeed, can. Not everyone who can breastfeed, wants to. It’s hard not to feel judged for your choices as a new mom. I had never been a mom before, so I never felt truly confident that my kid was getting the best from me. I had no point of comparison. While I did breastfeed my kids, I still felt apprehensive when I was asked this question. I would have preferred the doctor simply noting, as she took my child’s weight, which fell within a healthy range, that it seemed the baby was growing well and to just keep up the good work. I could have used that boost of confidence.

Ad failed to load

“Do You Want To Spread The Vaccinations Out?”

I hated when my kids were babies and had to get their shots. But I believed they had to get their shots because, you know, science. There were a couple of visits where they were due for multiple vaccinations and the pediatrician offered to do one or two at that appointment, and then we could come back for the remaining one or two a week or so later.

I was a full-time working parent, though, and our pediatrician’s business hours were the same as my business hours, which meant I had to miss work to take our kids to their well visits. I felt so guilty for having the baby get more than one shot per appointment, but in the end, I can’t regret that decision too much. My kids have no memory of getting multiple shots. Their wailing, however, is forever burned into my memory.

“Are They Drinking Milk?”


Um, can we possibly rephrase this one? How about, “Are the kids ingesting some foods that, by the end of the week, deliver roughly the proper amount of nutrients?” My children are not milk drinkers and one of them absolutely hates dairy (even removes cheese from her pizza, if you can believe it). But they do eat leafy greens (as in, the occasional lettuce leaf), that contain calcium. I realize it’s not the same as getting a couple of glasses of reduced fat milk, but it’s something, and right now the “something is better than nothing” approach to parenting is working for our family.

“Are They At Least Taking A Calcium Supplement?”

Oh right. I was asked this at their last check-up and made a mental note to pick up some vitamins with calcium. Maybe now I’ll actually go ahead and do it.

My kids do take vitamins, with Vitamin D and calcium, but not every day because we all forget. I might gloss over this fact in conversation with their doctor.

Ad failed to load

“Did You Take Her Temperature?”


I have no faith that thermometers work. I never seemed to get an accurate reading when I stuck it under my baby’s arm, and I didn’t have the guts to take it rectally. I could have purchased one of those forehead readers, but what if the batteries were dead when I actually got around to needing it?

When I called my pediatrician, concerned that the baby might be running a fever, I used my gut to measure the temperature. I know this is not at all scientific or a good way to gauge how sick my kid might be, but using a thermometer was more frustrating than using the back of my hand to feel her forehead. I wasn’t being lazy, people. I was just tapping in to my maternal instincts.

Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

Watch full episodes of Romper's Doula Diaries on Facebook Watch.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

15 Baby Names With Unique Nicknames, So Your Family Has Options

I love a good diminutive name, also known as a nickname. I believe I’m partial to them because of my own name, Abigale, but I go by Abi. And since they’re both uniquely spelled, everyone thinks my name is pronounced Ah-bee for some reason — but even …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

The Entire Family Can Enjoy These Movies & Shows Coming To Netflix In June

It's just one of those sad facts of life: every month, shows and movies vanish from Netflix, their varied excitements no longer at your fingertips. But luckily the streaming service is always prepared to fill that content void with lots of new things…
By Megan Walsh

The Reason Why Babies Smile At You Will Seriously Make You Smile

Whether you're currently the recipient of your own baby's sweet smiles or you just seem to be a magnet for baby grins in general, you might find yourself wondering why babies are always smiling at you. Sure, you could be a 'smile whisperer' but scien…
By Kate Miller

8 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say That, Yes, You Are Their Favorite

For a baby to show a preference for a specific person is not only normal, but an essential part of their development. Babies need to form strong attachments to their caregivers for their emotional, social, and physical wellbeing. Usually, but not alw…
By Kimmie Fink

10 Reasons Why I Won't Apologize For Giving My Toddler A Pacifier

My first child had no interest in a pacifier. I tried a couple times to get him to take one, but he always spat them out and gave me an incredulous, judgmental look. But my second? It was love at first suckle. And after a while, the incredulous, judg…
By Jamie Kenney

Being A Dog Parent Prepared Me For Having A Baby, Really

I’ve always wanted kids; I was never as sure about raising a puppy. Then I spent six months living with someone who brought home an eight-week-old golden retriever puppy, and I see no way to make it out of that experience claiming not to love dogs. I…
By Heather Caplan

20 Of The Most Popular Unisex Names Of All Time, That You'll Be Hearing More Of For Sure

You might think of unisex names as a fairly recent trend, but the truth is these versatile monikers have been commonly used throughout history (well, some more commonly than others). That's why the team over at recently compiled a list of t…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

How To Have A Date Night With No Babysitter, Because It's Easier Than You Think

After having children, many couples feel that their love lives immediately go out the window, but it's so important to make your romantic life a priority so both you and your partner can be the best versions of yourselves you can be. As we all know, …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

9 Ways Baby No. 3 Made My Family Feel Complete

My husband and I decided to have another baby right after we got married and, well, we had no idea what we were getting into. I got pregnant right away, endured a high-risk pregnancy, and, before I knew it, my third baby had arrived. Together, we emb…
By Steph Montgomery

8 Stereotypes About New Dads That Are *Totally* True

Much like new mothers, new fathers have a lot on their plate. Parenting can be scary and complex, especially at first and regardless of your gender. People want to do right by their kids, after all. And since all new parents are a hot mess, dads are …
By Priscilla Blossom

8 Differences Between Being Pregnant In Your 20s Vs 30s, According To Science

Whether you're planning a pregnancy, or just thinking about your future family, it's typical to think about things like child-spacing, how many kids you want, and when to start trying to conceive. When making your pro/con list, you might also conside…
By Steph Montgomery

16 Moms Share Remedies For Their Most Intense Chocolate Cravings During Pregnancy

For better or worse, pregnancy is usually synonymous with odd cravings. Sure, there are the stereotypical combos like pickles and ice cream that plague gestating women the world over, but there are other mind-boggling combinations, too, including but…
By Candace Ganger

Putting Sunscreen On Your Kid Doesn't Have To Be A Fight — Here's How To Do It

I am almost translucent, so me and sunscreen are basically besties at this point. Even though my children are beautifully deep brown thanks to my husband's genetics, I still slather them like biscuits being buttered because I refuse to take risks wit…
By Cat Bowen

19 Moms Share The Way They Cured Their Pregnancy Comfort Food Cravings

I was obnoxiously sick during the first trimester with, "lucky" for me, both of my pregnancies. For the first three months I lived on saltines, lemonade, and fresh bread. Once I was able to eat, however, all I wanted was savory and sweet comfort food…
By Dina Leygerman

I Used To Judge Formula-Feeding Moms — Until I Became One

The other patrons in the hip Brooklyn restaurant probably couldn’t care less what I was feeding my baby, but I’ll always remember the shame I felt as I quickly mixed up his bottle of formula in front of them. I admitted to my childless friend that I …
By Katherine Martinelli

7 White Lies It’s Necessary To Tell To Keep Your Relationship Healthy

Telling lots of lies typically isn't associated with a healthy, strong, lasting relationship, and that's still certainly true, but not all lies are exactly the same. Though you've probably heard from someone at least once or twice that the lie they t…
By Lauren Schumacker

The Skinny Jeans That Saved Me Postpartum

Accepting my post-pregnancy body is hands-down one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It’s something that I still work on every single day. During my first pregnancy, I was 20 years old, so I managed to bounce back quickly. In fact, I dropp…
By Allison Cooper

7 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say They Feel Safe

In those first weeks of new motherhood, it can feel like you need an interpreter for your newborn. With their limited means of communication, figuring out what message your baby is trying to get across to you can be a challenge. With time, however, y…
By Kimmie Fink

Here's Why Dogs Are Obsessed With Babies' Poop, According To Science

Most family dogs seem to understand babies, and they're more than happy to make friends with the newest member of the pack. It's adorable... for the most part and until you go to change your little one's diaper. Suddenly, you're wondering why dogs ar…
By Lindsay E. Mack

6 Signs You're Meant To Have A Big Age Gap Between Kids

There's a five year age difference between my two children, to the day. Their age gap wasn't planned but, for a variety of reasons, works well for our family. And since I was so focused on having a second baby, I totally overlooked the signs that wou…
By Candace Ganger

My Dog Knew I Was Pregnant Before My Family Did

Growing up, I was 100 percent sure I'd be a mom one day. To a dog, that is. My baby plans came later. And once my husband and I were sure we wanted both a dog and a baby, we'd add to our joint dog-and-baby name list over Sunday brunch or on date nigh…
By Melissa Mills